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Somatotrophic and thyroid hormones around the onset of lay in broiler breeders under different conditions

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Somatotrophic and thyroid hormones were determined around the onset of reproduction in broiler breeders reared in two different housing systems [dark, close-sided house (CH) and conventional, open-sided house (OH)]. In both groups age-related changes were obvious for thyroxine (T4), growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1); levels of T4 decreased, especially between 24 and 28 weeks in both groups; concomitantly GH sharply increased over the same period. A transient peak in triiodothyronine (T3) occurred between 25 and 27 weeks. The effect of housing was only present after the onset of lay. Between weeks 27-28 and the end of the period studied, the CH group showed higher levels of GH and T3 but lower T4 levels as compared to the OH group. A significant increase in GH after onset of lay, without any significant rise in T3 or in IGF-I, could point to a relative insensitivity to high plasma GH levels. Changes at GH receptor level, together with an increased pituitary GH secretion and/or decreased GH turnover may be expected. This may indicate that hypothalamo-pituitary changes at the onset of lay not only imply changes of gonadotrophic cell function, but also other hormonal axes. The relatively decrease in T4 without changes in T3, may point to a decrease in the activity of the thyrotropic axis.
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Keywords: Hormones; broiler breeders; environment; growth hormone; reproduction; thyroid hormones

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-10-16

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