The time course of comb development and estrogen levels were compared in broiler (BX) and layer (LX) females that consumed feed ad libitum (A) or were subjected to quantitative feed restriction (R). The chicks were reared under short photoperiod [(6 h light (L):18 h dark (D)] until 22 wk of age. At this time, photoperiod was increased in one step to 8L:16 D, and then gradually increased until 14L:10D at 34 wk. There was a significant interaction between genetic type and feeding treatment, such that entry into lay of the LX-R and BX-R females was delayed by 1 and 4 wk, respectively, relative to the LX-A and BX-A birds. Mean comb size of LX-A birds began to increase while still under 6L:18D photoperiod; that of the other treatment groups did not begin to increase until photoperiod was shifted to 8L:16D. Comb size of individual LX-A, LX-R, and BX-A birds began to increase about 8 wk prior to individual onset of lay; that of BX-R birds about 11 wk prior to onset of lay. In all groups, estrogen levels remained low until 3 to 4 wk prior to onset of lay, when they showed a sharp increase. Following onset of lay, estrogen levels of all groups remained high. Critical day length of LX-A birds appears to be lower than that of BX-A birds. In addition, feed restriction per se appears to decrease photoperiod responsiveness of BX birds.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Israel Poultry Council. We thank Tikva Geno for dedicated technical assistance.
- Comb size
- Feed restriction
- Onset of lay