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

  • Ali Olfati Research Center for Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology, Biomedicine Institute, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz
  • Ali Mojtahedin Department of Physiology, Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources Moghan, University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, Ardabil
  • Tayebeh Sadeghi Department of Biology, Kerman Branch, Islamic Azad University, Kerman
  • Mohsen Akbari Young Researchers and Elites Club, Kermanshah Branch, Islamic Azad University, Kermanshah
  • Felipe Martínez-Pastor INDEGSAL and Department of Molecular Biology (Cell Biology), Universidad de León, León
Keywords: antibody titer, broiler chicken, immunity, thermal stress


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.


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How to Cite
Olfati, A., Mojtahedin, A., Sadeghi, T., Akbari, M., & Martínez-Pastor, F. (2018). Comparison of growth performance and immune responses of broiler chicks reared under heat stress, cold stress and thermoneutral conditions. Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research, 16(2), e0505.
Animal health and welfare