Salmonella Enteritidis infection, corticosterone levels, performance and egg quality in laying hens submitted to different methods of molting
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In commercial layer poultry farming, molt induction is an important tool used by egg producers to prolong the production cycle of laying hens. Conventional molt induction programs involve total feed withdrawal, which raises questions about animal welfare and increased infection susceptibility. The high incidence of paratyphoid salmonellosis infections in commercial poultry farming is still an important health challenge because in addition to affecting the birds, such infections also cause public health problems. In this context, experiments were performed with laying hens at 79 wk of age to compare the conventional forced molting method (fasting) with an alternative method (free wheat bran supply) and determine their effect on the persistence of vaccine antibodies against Newcastle disease, the control and reduction of experimentally inoculated Salmonella Enteritidis, and the performance and egg quality of hens. A reduction (P < 0.05) of Salmonella Enteritidis in the crop and lower production of corticosterone were observed in the birds that received wheat bran compared with those subjected to total fasting. Moreover, a better performance (P < 0.05) with regard to egg production, egg mass, and feed conversion/kg and dozen eggs was observed in the hens that received the alternative treatment compared to the conventional forced molting method. Thus, the use of wheat bran for forced molting was found to be feasible and met the welfare needs of the hens.
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