Chicks are commonly fasted for the first 36 to 72 h posthatch because of the logistics of commercial production. Fasting for 48 to 72 h posthatch results in retarded BW, delayed intestinal development, and lower pectoral muscle weight. This study is focused on the first 36 h of fasting and its interaction with feeding before hatch. Four treatment groups, differing in time of first feed, 6 h [early feeding (EF)] or 36 h [standard feeding procedure (SP)] posthatch, with or without in ovo feeding (IOF) with dextrin and β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate-calcium salt in a saline solution, were examined for glycogen status in the liver and pectoral muscle, myogenic cell proliferation, and myofiber diameter in embryos and chickens on various days posthatch. In addition, chicken BW, ADG, pectoral muscle weight, and pectoral muscle percentage of BW until 35 d of age were recorded. Results showed that delaying the first feed for 36 h posthatch (SP group) led to an irreversibly reduced growth rate compared with the EF group. However, IOF affected the growth ofchickens in the SP group, whereas the control embryos had depleted glycogen reserves in the liver; IOF-treated embryos had elevated hepatic glycogen contents on embryonic day (E) 19, E20, and the day of hatch. In addition, on d 2 posthatch, although hatchlings in the SP group showed the predicted low levels of glycogen in their livers, birds in the EF group exhibited more than 30-fold and 3-fold increases in liver and muscle glycogen, respectively. In ovo-fed birds in the SP group also exhibited higher glycogen reserves, BW, pectoral muscle weight, and BW gain than control birds in the SP group. In ovo feeding had an immediate effect on promoting myoblast proliferation on E19, whereas on d 3 posthatch, the effect was pronounced only in the EF groups. On d 5, although myoblast proliferation in all groups declined, it remained higher in both IOF groups. These effects were expressed on d 3 and 35 by myofiber diameter. Together, IOF had a long-term supportive effect on BW and posthatch muscle growth when first feed was delayed by 36 h.
- In ovo feeding