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Growth and physiological variables of nesting and laying domestic hens

Ogbu, C.C.1*, U.U. Kalu2, N.C. Okoye3 and S.O. Ekere3

1College of Veterinary Medicine, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike; 2Department of Animal Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka; 3Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nsukka


The study was aimed at evaluating the growth and physiological parameters of nesting and laying domestic hens. Fifteen broody and laying hens (56 wk of age, 36 wk in lay) were used for the study which lasted for 4 weeks. The broody birds were weighed and then housed individually in floor pens equipped with nest boxes and hard boiled eggs to encourage incubation behaviour while the laying hens were housed in 3 replicate pens (5 birds/pen). Parameters measured were initial (IBW) and final (FBW) body weight, daily (DBWG) and cumulative (CBWG) body weight gain, weekly feed intake (WFI), average daily feed intake (ADFI) and haematological indices: packed cell volume (PCV), red blood cell (RBC) count, haemoglobin concentration (Hb), white blood cell count (WBC), mean corpuscular volume (MCV), mean corpuscular haemoglobin (MCH), mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration (MCHC) and differential white blood cell count. Others were ambient temperature (AT), body temperature (BT), and respiratory rate (RR) recorded at three time periods (TP): 07:00-08:00h, 13:00-14:00h and 18:00–19:00h for 3 days/wk for 3 wk. FBW, CBWG, ADFI and RR, some erythrocytic indices but not DBWG, AT, BT, leukocytic indices, and H/L ratio were affected by broody or laying status. Time period did not influence BT, and RR of the hens. FBW, DBWG, PCV, Hb, and RBC varied significantly (P<0.05) in the nesting group. It was concluded that nesting is associated with significant physiological stress and altered haematological and growth parameters and that nesting and laying hens have equivalent physiological stress profile.

Keywords: Body temperature; haematological indices; H/L ratio; respiratory rate; stress
To cite this article: Ogbu CC, UU Kalu, NC Okoye and SO Ekere, 2014. Growth and physiological variables of nesting and laying domestic hens. Res. Opin. Anim. Vet. Sci., 4(6): 323-331.

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