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Influence of environmental and nutritional stressors on yolk sac utilization, development of chicken gastrointestinal system and its immune status

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 September 2007

M. Mikec*
Croatian Veterinary Institute, Poultry Centre, Zagreb, Croatia
Z. Biđin
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
A. Valentić
Croatian Veterinary Institute, Poultry Centre, Zagreb, Croatia
V. Savić
Croatian Veterinary Institute, Poultry Centre, Zagreb, Croatia
T. Amšel Zelenika
Croatian Veterinary Institute, Poultry Centre, Zagreb, Croatia
R. Raguž-Đurić
Croatian Veterinary Institute, Poultry Centre, Zagreb, Croatia
I. Lukaè Novak
Croatian Veterinary Institute, Poultry Centre, Zagreb, Croatia
M. Baleńovic
Croatian Veterinary Institute, Poultry Centre, Zagreb, Croatia
*Corresponding author:
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The impact of practically all the everyday stress factors occurring in the first days of the chick life on the rate of the utilisation of the yolk sac content, on the chicken immune status and on the growth of the animal's body and intestinal masses was investigated. The impact of the stress was investigated during the first five days of chick's life. The chicks were divided into five groups, each comprising 44 birds. The first chick group was exposed to moderate cold (2–3°C below the optimal temperature for the chick age). The second group was exposed to moderate heat (2–3°C above the optimal temperature for the age). The third and fourth group were deprived of feed and drinking water for 12 hours and 24 hour, respectively. The fifth chick group was the control group: the birds in this group had optimal environmental conditions and received feed and drinking water immediately upon entering the trial. Ten chicks were taken every day and weighed. Their blood samples were obtained for the assessment of infectious bursal disease virus antibody titres using ELISA method. After that, the birds were sacrificed, their intestinal masses weighed and the quantity of resorbed yolk measured.

The greatest body and intestinal masses were found in the control animals. The body and intestinal masses were the lowest in the group which was denied water and food for 24 hours. The resorption of the yolk sac content was approximately equal in all the chick groups, but the resorption rate varied by days. The highest resorption was observed in the chick groups on the day when feed was denied to them, so that this high resorption could be associated with the bird's body energy requirements. The resorption of the remaining yolk is associated with feed intake: in chicks to which feed is withheld the yolk is resorbed through the yolk sac wall directly into the blood, which increased its usability. When energy requirements are not satisfied, the chick's body probably utilises resorbed antibodies from the yolk remnants, as their glycoprotein composition is suitable for this purpose.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2006

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