The development of broilers is an extreme example of rapid growth, increasing in weight from 40 g at hatch to 2,000 g 5 to 6 wk later. Such rapid growth requires a correspondingly fast development of the skeleton. Bone development is a genetically programmed process that is modified by epigenetic factors, mainly muscle-induced stresses and strains. In this study, we describe the temporal changes in bone morphology and material properties during the prehatch period [embryonic day (E) 14, E17, E19, E21] and posthatch d 3 and 7. The bones were examined for their weight, length, ash content, mechanical properties, and cortical structure. We show that the cross-sectional shape of the tibia and femur changes during the examination period from circular to elliptical. Additionally, the changes in bone properties are time-dependent and nonuniform: from E14 to E17 and from d 3 to 7, fast bone growth was noted, with major increases in both mechanical properties (stiffness, ultimate load, and energy to fracture) and geometric properties (cross-sectional area and thickness, medullary area, and moment of inertia). On the other hand, during the last days of incubation, most mechanical and geometric properties remain unchanged or even decrease. The reasons for this finding may relate to the hatching process but also to mineral shortage during the last days of incubation. This study leads to better understanding of bone development in ovo and posthatch in fast-growing broilers.
- Bone material properties
- Bone structure