Temperature manipulation during layer chick embryogenesis

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The current study investigated the effects of temperature manipulation (TM) during late embryogenesis on temperature preference, response to high environmental temperature, behavior, and performance in young layer chicks. Control (CC) embryos (n = 96) were incubated at 37.8°C eggshell temperature throughout incubation. Thermally manipulated embryos (n = 96) were incubated at 37.8°C eggshell temperature throughout incubation and were exposed to 40°C for 4 h/d from embryonic d 14 to 18 (TM chicks). After hatch, chicks from each treatment were divided into 3 subgroups (n = 32 per group) and were subjected to a temperature preference test at d 1, 7, or 33. One day after the temperature preference test, each subgroup was exposed to 1 thermal challenge for 4 h (d 2, 40°C; d 8, 40°C; or d 34, 35°C). Effects of TM on (fearfulness) behavior of chicks were investigated in a tonic immobility test and during home pen observations. Temperature manipulation decreased incubation time with 7 h (P <0.0001) and body temperature at hatch with 0.2°C (P = 0.002). The TM chicks preferred a lower ambient temperature in the temperature preference test (P <0.05) and showed a higher body temperature response than CC chicks to the thermal challenge at d 2 and 8 (P <0.05). No effects of TM on behavior and performance were observed. Because most TM studies are conducted in broilers, this study is the first attempt to unravel the effects of TM during late embryogenesis on posthatch environmental adaptation in layer chicks. The results demonstrated that effects of our TM on postnatal temperature preference and response to high environmental temperatures are only found until d 8 of age. This may suggest 1 of 3 options: a) the timing or the level, or both, of TM and duration were not at the sensitive period of embryogenesis or not sufficient, or both, respectively; b) the level of the postnatal thermal challenge was not strong enough to induce a hyperthermic response; and c) the postnatal effects of TM in layers are limited in time
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1502-1508
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • incubation-temperature
  • thermal manipulations
  • body-temperature
  • broiler chicks
  • muscovy duck
  • heat-stress
  • thermoregulation
  • embryos
  • hatchability
  • performance


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