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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Effects of Heat Stress on Farm Animal Well-Being

Location: Livestock Behavior Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The overall objective of our current program is to identify husbandry and environmental factors that challenge animal welfare and develop sustainable alternatives that safeguard animal welfare and productivity. The specific objectives of this project are to examine the cellular and mechanisms of heat stress on farm animals' well-being, respectively in laying hens and dairy cows. Identify if supplement of antioxidants, such as agrado and beta-glucan, are a useful method for reducing heat stress associated damage in the farm animal industry, and develop biomarkers for evaluating husbandry practices used in the farm animal industry.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
180 Hy-line W-36 hens at 30 weeks of age will be used in the study. The hens will be randomly divided into three groups: control (20 °C+/-1°C), heat stressed (37°C+/-1°C) and heat stressed + Agrodo Plus at 0.05% (60 hens/group). The hens will be randomly housed in pair within the group. Heat stress will be started one week after the treatments started. Samples (brain, blood and organs) will be collected at 24 hours (acute) and 10 days (chronic) following heat stress. Chickens’ behavior will be recorded and analyzed for the whole time. Tissue samples will be analyzed using HPLC, RT-PCR, Flow cytometry, and histological staining, respectively. Behavior, immunity, neuroendocrine function, and production will be compared among the treatments. The goal of the study is to develop a treatment for preventing and reducing heat stress response in farm animals.


3.Progress Report:

The pilot dose test of this project is complete. Hens were fed a regular diet with the dose at 200 ppm, 400 ppm or 600 ppm of an anti-oxidant. The effects of the compound on hen body growth, eating behavior, and physiological parameters were investigated. Based on the results, the best dose at 400 ppm has been identified and the future study has been planned. The project relates to parent project Sub-Objective 3.A., Experiment 2, Heat Stress, especially, conducting specific research, anti-oxidative damage, related to improve well-being in laying hens.


Last Modified: 10/30/2014
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