Comparison of growth performance and immune responses of broiler chicks reared under heat stress, cold stress and thermoneutral conditions

Ali Olfati, Ali Mojtahedin, Tayebeh Sadeghi, Mohsen Akbari, Felipe Martínez-Pastor


This study was conducted to compare the effects of thermal stress on growth performance and some immunity variables of broiler chickens. Birds were randomly assigned to one of three thermal treatments as follows: cold stress (CS, 12±1°C), (b) heat stress (HS, 33±3 °C) and (c) thermoneutral (TN, 24±2 °C). Body weight gain (BWG), feed intake (FI), water intake (WI) and feed conversion ratio (FCR) were recorded. In order to evaluate the primary and secondary humoral immune responses, two birds per replicate were intravenously administrated with a suspension of 7% sheep red blood cell (SRBC) at 28 and 35 days. The heat-stressed broiler chickens had lower FI (-14.90%), BWG (-25.71%) and higher FCR (+13.06%) in comparison to broiler chickens reared under TN condition (p<0.001) from 1 to 42 days of age. The cold-stressed broiler chickens showed lower FI (-22.05%), BWG (-38.32%) and higher FCR (+22.47%) in comparison to birds reared under TN conditions (p<0.001). Stressed birds (CS and HS) showed decreased antibody titer against SRBC, lymphocyte count and the relative weights of lymphoid organs and increased heterophil count, heterophil to lymphocyte ratio and the serum concentration of corticosterone, in comparison to birds in TN group (p<0.001). In conclusion, HS and CS conditions have similar negative effects on performance and immunity of broiler chickens.


antibody titer; broiler chicken; immunity; thermal stress

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2018162-12753