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A 'meta-analysis' of effects of post-hatch food and water deprivation on development, performance and welfare of chickens



A 'meta-analysis' of effects of post-hatch food and water deprivation on development, performance and welfare of chickens



Plos one 12(12): E0189350



A 'meta-analysis' was performed to determine effects of post-hatch food and water deprivation (PHFWD) on chicken development, performance and welfare (including health). Two types of meta-analysis were performed on peer-reviewed scientific publications: a quantitative 'meta-analysis' (MA) and a qualitative analysis (QA). Previously reported effects of PHFWD were quantified in the MA, for variables related to performance, mortality and relative yolk sac weight. The QA counted the number of studies reporting (non-)significant effects when five or more records were available in the data set (i.e. relative heart, liver and pancreas weight; plasma T3, T4 and glucose concentrations; relative duodenum, jejunum and ileum weight; duodenum, jejunum and ileum length; and villus height and crypt depth in duodenum, jejunum and ileum). MA results indicated that 24 hours of PHFWD (i.e. ≥12-36 hours) or more resulted in significantly lower body weights compared to early-fed chickens up to six weeks of age. Body weights and food intake were more reduced as durations of PHFWD (24, 48, 72, ≥84 hours) increased. Feed conversion rate increased in chickens up to 21 and 42 days of age after ≥84 hours PHFWD in comparison with chickens fed earlier. Total mortality at day 42 was higher in chickens after 48 hours PHFWD compared to early fed chickens or chickens after 24 hours PHFWD. First week mortality was higher in chickens after ≥84 hours PHFWD than in early fed chickens. The MA for relative yolk sac weight was inconclusive for PHFWD. The QA for plasma T3, T4 and glucose concentrations indicated mainly short-term decreases in T3 and glucose in PHFWD chickens compared to early fed chickens, and no effects of PHFWD on T4 concentrations. Relative weights of liver, pancreas and heart were lower after PHFWD, but only in the first week of life. A retarded development of gut segments (duodenum, jejunum and ileum) was found in the first week of life, measured as shorter, lower relative weight, and lower villus height and crypt depth. It is concluded that 48 hours (≥36-60 hours) PHFWD leads to lower body weights and higher total mortality in chickens up to six weeks of age, the latter suggesting compromised chicken welfare, but effects of PHFWD on organ development and physiological status appear to be mainly short-term.

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Accession: 046261554

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PMID: 29236747


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