The present study was conducted to determine the adverse effects of high temperature and humidity not only on live performance and egg quality but also on immune function in commercial laying hens. One hundred eighty 31-wk-old laying hens at peak production were used in this study. Hens were housed in cages (15 cages of 4 birds/cage) in each of 3 environmental chambers and received 1 of 3 treatments. The 3 treatments were control (average temperature and relative humidity), cyclic (daily cyclic temperature and humidity), and heat stress (constant heat and humidity) for 5 wk. Different production and immune parameters were measured. Body weight and feed consumption were significantly reduced in hens in the heat stress group. Egg production, egg weight, shell weight, shell thickness, and specific gravity were significantly inhibited among hens in the heat stress group. Likewise, total white blood cell (WBC) counts and antibody production were significantly inhibited in hens in the heat stress group. In addition, mortality was higher in the heat stress group compared to the cyclic and control groups. Even though T- and B-lymphocyte activities were not significantly affected by any of the treatments, lymphocytes from hens in the heat stress group had the least activity at 1 wk following treatment. These results indicate that heat stress not only adversely affects production performance but also inhibits immune function.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology