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Embryo acclimation : an innovative technique to limit mortality during thermal stress in chicken

Inra Prod.Anim., 24 (2), 191-198


1INRA, UR83 Recherches Avicoles, F-37380 Nouzilly, France

2Universidad Central De Venezuela, Facultad de Agronomia, Apdo. 4579, Maracay, Venezuela

3 Produccion Animal, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agricolas, 2101 Maracay Aragua, Venezuela

4 CIRAD, Systèmes d’élevage et produits animaux, TA C-18/A, Campus international de Baillarguet, F-34398 Montpellier, France

5Institute of Animal Science, The Volcani Center, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel


The selection of fast-growing chickens has favored muscle mass without similar improvement of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems involved in thermoregulation. Indeed, broiler chickens have limited capacities to sustain high temperatures, with reduced performances during moderate and chronic heat exposure, and depressed welfare, morbidity and mortality during acute heat exposure. During the last decade, a great effort concerned early thermal acclimation. This strategy requires a fine tuning of incubation conditions (temperature, phasis of embryogenesis, duration of exposure) favoring long term thermotolerance. Consequences on growth performance and meat quality were also evaluated. Perinatal heat acclimation is aimed at inducing epigenetic thermoregulatory mechanisms that modulate body temperature on a long term. If it is further proved to be efficient on a large scale, early thermal acclimation could favor poultry sturdiness towards temperature variations without affecting growth performance. In this paper, we will review the main techniques of early thermal exposure and the physiological bases of their use. We will focus on the research axes concerning the comprehension of underlying mechanisms and the interest of this technique for poultry species.

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