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Effects of high fat diets or prednisolone treatment on femoral head separation in chickens

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1. The effects of high fat diets and prednisolone treatment were studied to understand the etiology of femoral head separation (FHS) in fast growing broiler chickens. Dietary effects on production parameters such as growth, feed conversion ratio (FCR) and blood chemistry were also measured.

2. Three groups of chickens, consisting of 30 birds each, in two replicate pens, were fed isonitrogenous diets containing 40 (control), 60, or 80 g poultry fat supplements per kg feed. The birds were fed a starter diet containing the fat supplements for the first three weeks, then switched to a grower diet containing the same supplements for the rest of the experimental period. Two groups of birds were also raised with the control diets, but were administered either cholesterol or prednisolone intramuscularly at 30 and 32 days of age to evaluate their effects on FHS incidences.

3. The chickens were euthanised and necropsied at 37 d of age. The presence of femoral head weakness was determined by applying mild pressure on the pelvic joint to cause the growth plate to become detached from its articular cartilage in affected cases.

4. High fat diets did not change FHS incidences, but increased 28 d body weights (BW) and FCR. At 37 d of age the BW differences were not significant but the FCR (gain: feed ratio) remained higher in high fat fed groups. Prednisolone treatment, by contrast, resulted in decreased BW, decreased feed efficiency, increased FHS index, and elevated blood lipid levels.

5. The results suggest that high dietary fats do not affect FHS incidence in broilers. Prednisolone treatment causes hyperlipidaemia and increases FHS index, and may therefore provide a suitable experimental model of FHS pathogenesis in growing chickens.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Poultry Production and Product Safety Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, 2: Department of Poultry Science, Fayetteville,AR 72701, 3: Cobb-Vantress Inc, Siloam Springs,AR, USA

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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