Stressful hatchery experiences negatively affect birds

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With billions of laying hens around the world hatched under industrial conditions, it is valuable to understand how stressful environments affect performance.
Swedish researchers have found that stress during commercial hatching affects growth production and feather pecking in laying hens.

Every year, billions of laying hens are hatched in industrial conditions around the world. Researchers from Linkoping University in Sweden investigated how they are affected by stressful procedures in a commercial hatchery, including incubation, hatching, processing and transport.

The characters were compared with those of the control group hatched in a small incubator and carefully handled in a quiet room without any handling and transport. Chicks were weighed at hatch and at 8 additional time points: 4 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 5 weeks, 8 weeks, 20 weeks, and 25 weeks.

feather pecking was studied at 15 weeks of age, and feather damage and comb and lobe injury were assessed at 25 weeks of age. From the 19th week, eggs were collected 3 days a week, counted and weighed.

Determination of hatching weight
The results found that chicks from a commercial hatchery had lower hatching weights than control chicks. At week 20, the weight of commercially hatched chicks was still numerically lower, although this did not reach statistical significance.

Commercially hatched chicks tended to exhibit more feather pecking at 15 weeks of age compared to control chicks (p<0.1), although feather condition at 25 weeks of age showed the opposite pattern. there was no difference in ridge and lobe injury.></0,1),>

The number and size of the eggs varied
Looking at production, the researchers found that commercially hatched chickens laid fewer (p<0.05) and smaller (p<0.05) eggs than chickens hatched and handled under calm conditions.></0.05)></0 .05)>

Research has concluded that stressful incubation, hatching and handling of chicks in a commercial hatchery is associated with reduced post-hatch weight and a tendency for reduced weight gain. And commercially hatched chickens had reduced egg production and a tendency toward increased feather pecking. Poorer feather condition in control chicks could be a consequence of environmental impact rather than related to hatchery effects.


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