Chicken meat and chicken eggs are the most-consumed and widely-accepted animal protein worldwide. To meet the growing demand, advances in chicken genetics have been huge in recent decades.
But the resulting improvements in poultry strains and production performance have come at a price. Today’s chickens are more susceptible to higher environmental temperatures due to a greater metabolic rate, besides the lack of sweat glands and presence of feathers.
Environmental heat stress, also a potential consequence of global warming, is a significant problem in the poultry industry. The adverse effect on poultry health and production has led to substantial economic losses in Hawaiʻi and beyond.
In a new study from the Dept. of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, researchers are investigating several antioxidants and polyphenols to mitigate heat stress in poultry. Their findings suggest that a dietary supplementation of dried plum (rich in polyphenols) and Alpha-lipoic acid (fat and water soluble antioxidant) may impart a number of benefits. Such supplements can ameliorate the broilers’ health and production by improving the feed utilization and feed conversion ratio, antioxidants and immune-related genes, and gut microbiomes.
“It is not economical to use an air-cooling system inside a poultry house,” lead investigator Birendra Mishra points out. “Thus, with the rising issue of global warming, it is important to develop cost-effective and adoptable strategies for sustainable poultry production.”
For his related published research, graduate student Sanjeev Wasti received the 2019 Best Poster Presentation award from the Poultry Science Association and 2020 Hatchery Students of the Year award.
Read the full study, Dietary supplementation of alpha-lipoic acid mitigates the negative effects of heat stress in broilers, which appears in a recent PLOS ONE [16(7): e0254936].