Maternal stress during egg formation influences the development of offspring through direct and epigenetic mechanisms. The aim of this study was to investigate thematernal age offspring susceptibility to pre-natal stress in laying hens. This was tested by subjecting breeder hens of 5 genetic lines — ISA Brown, Lohmann Brown, LSL-Lite, Shaver White and Pure Line White Leghorn — to natural stressors and by pharmacological in ovo injections of corticosterone prior to incubation. Eggs of four parent flocks (24F:3M/flock) from each genetic line were incubated, hatched, reared, and housed identically in litter floor pens with nests and perches. Parent stock was equally separated into two groups: Stress, where hens were subjected to a series of acute psychological stressors (e.g. physical restraint) for 8 days prior to egg collection, and Control, which received routine husbandry. At 32 and 52 weeks of age (woa), fertile eggs from both treatments were collected and additional eggs from Control group were injected with corticosterone (10ng/mL eggCORT). A vehicle treatment (CORT Control) was included to for effects of egg manipulation. redistributedbirds Offspring growth was affected by the interaction of genetic line and treatment for both natural (P=0.0091) and pharmacological (P=0.0063) stressors. Average body weight decreased in response to natural stressors only in ISA Brown (P=0.0346). and PureLine White Leghorn offspring were neither affected by stressor (P=0.4150) nor maternal age (P≥0.0712). These results show that pre-natal stress, genetic line, and maternal age interact to affect growth rate of the offspring in commercial strains of laying hens. Keywords: laying hens, genetics, breeder flock, prenatal stress, corticosterone
Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume Electronic Poster Session - Biology - Growth and Development, , 998, 2018
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