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RESEARCH ▶▶▶


Effect of environmental conditions during transport examined


The transport of live animals causes stress to the animals as they are exposed to a variety of potential stressors, including ambient temperature, vibration, noise, space restrictions and air pollutants. A study looked at how day-old chicks are affected by the exact dynamics of transport conditions.


BY M. YERPES, P. LLONCH AND X. MANTECA, POULTRY SCIENCE T


he total number of day-old chicks produced in Europe is 6,700 million, 628 million of them in Spain, most are at some time transported. Although pro- gress has been made in recent years in terms of im-


proved poultry welfare, transport still often occurs for


extended periods of time under less than optimum environ- mental conditions (e.g. carbon dioxide levels or the interac- tion between temperature, relative humidity and carbon di- oxide). Day-old chicks are neonatal animals with an immature physiology, between hatching and arriving at the farm they may be deprived of feed or water for more than 72 hours, as hatching within the same flock can range up to 48 hours. Feed and water deprivation have been shown to negatively affect performance, despite this chicks can sustain them- selves without feed or water for 72 hours after hatching by using reserves in their yolk sac. Chicks from modern genetic lines with high growth and metabolic rates may deplete their energy reserves more quickly. Chick body weight and mortality during the first week of life may reflect the stress of the transport process, through excessive thermoregulatory demands and stress.


Data collected on 66 journeys made under commercial conditions was used to get a good idea of the environmental effects of transport.


42 ▶ POULTRY WORLD | No. 1, 2021


Weight and mortality The aim of the present study was to assess the conditions during transport that may affect the welfare and perfor- mance of broiler chicks in Spain by analysing the effect on weight loss and mortality during transport and on first- week mortality. The effect of the variability of environmen- tal conditions (temperature, humidity) on day-old chicks was monitored. Data collected on 66 journeys made under commercial conditions included air temperature, relative humidity, and carbon dioxide atmospheric concentration, the number of day-old chicks per trip, transport duration and type of journey. Additionally sex, breed (Ross and Cobb), breeder flock age and egg storage were noted, body weight (before and after transport), mortality during transport and mortality during the first week of life were estimated. Chick body weight loss was positively associated with jour- ney duration and relative humidity. No effect of environ- mental variables was found on mortality during transport. Chick mortality during the first week of life correlated with the percentage of day-old chicks loaded per journey and chick sex.


PHOTO: MARK PASVEER


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