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Immunological cell and serum metabolite response of 60-week-old commercial laying hens to an alfalfa meal molt diet



Immunological cell and serum metabolite response of 60-week-old commercial laying hens to an alfalfa meal molt diet



Bioresource Technology 99(3): 604-608



The practice of induced molting involves the restriction of light, feed removal and optionally water for 5-14 days. However, there is growing concern regarding feed removal and animal welfare issues. With this in mind, alternative diets have been developed to produce similar molting effects as that of feed deprivation. Alfalfa, which largely consists of insoluble fiber, can be used as a molting diet. In this study, heterophil and lymphocyte counts, serum chemistry, and organ weight parameters were evaluated in hens that were deprived of feed or fed alfalfa during a nine day induced molt. Full-fed hens were used as the control. Blood serum parameters assessed included calcium, magnesium, glucose, total protein, ketone bodies, uric acid, and cholesterol. White blood cells were counted and categorized by cell type. On the ninth day of the trial, the hens were euthanized and the liver, spleen, heart, intestine, pancreas, ovary, oviduct, and kidney were collected and weighed. On day 8 birds molted with alfalfa or by feed deprivation had significantly higher (P<0.05) levels of ketone bodies and cholesterol and lower levels of calcium, and magnesium compared to the full-fed hens while birds molted by feed deprivation exhibited significantly lower levels of uric acid. Birds molted by both methods exhibited significant reductions in ovary, oviduct, liver and pancreas weights and increased spleen weights when compared to the non-molted hens. On days 0, 2, and 6 there were no significant differences (P>0.05) in either heterophil or lymphocyte percentages. However, heterophil percentages were higher in feed withdrawal birds than full-fed birds on day 4 but lymphocyte percentages were higher in full-fed birds compared to feed withdrawal birds. On day 8 of the induced molt lymphocyte percentages were higher from full-fed birds when compared to feed withdrawal birds but no significant differences were detectable for heterophil percentages. Based on reproductive organ weight loss and changes in serum and immunological responses of birds during molt, it appears that alfalfa meal can be an effective molt induction alternative.

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Accession: 019180798

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 17336056

DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2006.12.036



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