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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INVESTIGATING THE IMPACT OF STRESS ON FOODBORNE PATHOGEN COLONIZATION IN TURKEYS

Location: Poultry Production and Products Safety Research

Title: Differential Effects of Sex and Genetics on Behavior and Stress Response of Turkeys

Authors
item Huff, Geraldine
item Huff, William
item Rath, Narayan
item Donoghue, Ann
item Anthony, N - UNIV OF ARKANSAS
item Nestor, K - THE OHIO STATE UNIV

Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 27, 2006
Publication Date: July 1, 2007
Citation: Huff, G.R., Huff, W.E., Rath, N.C., Donoghue, A.M., Anthony, N., Nestor, K.E. 2007. Differential effects of sex and genetics on behavior and stress response of turkeys. Poultry Science. 86(7):1294-1303.

Interpretive Summary: Three lines of turkeys were tested for their response in tests (T-maze and open field test) that have been shown to measure fear and sociality during the first 8 days after hatch and also for their behavior as adults after catching, moving, and transport. They were challenged with bacteria and were later subjected to transport stress. The levels of a hormone that is associated with stress and the levels of white blood cell populations that are known to be affected by stress (H/L ratios) were measured. Large commercial line birds (Comm) were faster and more active in the T maze at day 2 than Egg line birds. Male Comm line birds were faster than male Egg line birds when tested in an open field at day 8. Egg line birds had more sleeping behavior after moving to a new floor pen as compared to both an intermediate-sized line (F line) and the Comm line. Transport stress increased hormone levels in all 3 lines and the increase was greater in males compared to females. The Egg line had higher initial hormone levels and higher levels after transport. The H/L ratios were affected by both transport stress and line but not by sex. The H/L ratio was lower in the Egg line as compared to both the F line and the Comm line with the Comm line having the greatest increase in response to transport. These data, combined with those from previous studies of these lines, suggest that differences in activity of fast-growing turkeys may be used to select birds that are less susceptible to inflammatory bacterial disease and that the H/L ratio may be more useful than serum Cort in evaluating the deleterious effects of stress.

Technical Abstract: Three lines of turkeys were tested for response in T-maze and open field tests during the first 8 days after hatch and behavior was observed after catching, moving, and transport. They were also compared for corticosterone (Cort) levels and heterophil/lymphocyte ratios (H/L) in response to an Escherichia coli challenge followed by transport stress. Large commercial line birds (Comm) were faster and more active in the T maze at day 2 than Egg line birds. Male Comm line birds were faster than male Egg line birds when tested in an open field at day 8. Egg line birds had more sleeping behavior after moving to a new floor pen as compared to both an intermediate-sized line (F line) and the Comm line. Transport stress increased Cort levels in all 3 lines and the increase was greater in males compared to females. The Egg line had higher basal Cort levels (P = 0.03) and higher levels after transport (P< 0.0001). The H/L ratios were affected by both transport stress and line but not by sex. The H/L ratio was lower in the Egg line as compared to both the F line and the Comm line (P< 0.0001), with the Comm line having the greatest increase in response to transport. These data, combined with those from previous studies of these lines, suggest that differences in activity of fast-growing turkeys may be used to select birds that are less susceptible to inflammatory bacterial disease and that the H/L ratio may be more useful than serum Cort in evaluating the deleterious effects of stress.

Last Modified: 4/23/2014
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