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Brazilian Journal of Poultry Science

Print version ISSN 1516-635XOn-line version ISSN 1806-9061

Braz. J. Poult. Sci. vol.22 no.2 Campinas  2020  Epub Sep 02, 2020

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1806-9061-2020-1265 

Original Article

Morphology, Blood Chemistry and Behavioral Response of Crossbred Chickens Reared Under Alternative Production Systems

IDepartment of Poultry Production, Faculty of Animal Production and Technology, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore, 54000, Pakistan.

IIDepartment of Wildlife and Ecology, Faculty of Fisheries and Wildlife, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore, 54000, Pakistan.


ABSTRACT

In the present study, the second generation of two genotypes RNN (Rhode Island Red × Naked Neck) and BNN (Black Australorp × Naked Neck) obtained by two self-crosses (RNN × RNN =RR and BNN × BNN= BB) and two reciprocal crosses (RNN × BNN = RB and BNN × RNN = BR) were evaluated in three alternative production systems (conventional cages, enriched cages, and aviary). In total 480 birds, comprising 240 pullets with 240 cockerels (60 pullets & 60 cockerels from each crossbred) were used during rearing phase (17-21 weeks). Higher body weight, shank circumference, body and drumstick length were noticed in RB and BR genotypes. Among different production systems, chickens reared in enriched cages showed higher body weight and body lengths than other production systems. Comparing the behavior of chickens, higher feeding, jumping and dust bathing were observed in chickens reared in aviary systems than in other production systems while the maximum perching behavior was showed by the chickens reared in enriched cages. The highest glucose level was observed in RR genotypes when reared in aviary systems. Antibody titers against ND and IB were highest in chickens reared in aviary systems. In conclusion, RB and BR genotypes had better performance in terms of morphometrics and blood biochemistry when reared under enriched cages and aviary systems.

Keywords: Alternative production systems; antibody response; genotypes; morphometrics; serum chemistry

INTRODUCTION

The increasing world population is tremendously demanding food production and measures to increase animal protein sources. In many countries, different strategies have been applied to develop a dual-purpose rural chicken breed with further improvement in its production traits (Mallia, 1999). The genetic improvement can be achieved through crossbreeding and selection. However, cross breeding is better in terms to instigate improvements in growth rate, reproductive traits and feed conversion efficiency without disturbing potential of acclimatization ultimately reducing production costs (Adebambo et al., 2011). Better productive performance and adaptability traits of naked neck can be exploited through heterosis led by its crossbreeding with Rhode Island Red and Black Australorp which have genes of better egg production and meat yield with higher potential of economic returns helping to develop a crossbred with improved production potential and maintained acclimatizing abilities.

In association with the genetic improvement, better management and provision of suitable environment is necessary for the exploitation of genetic potential (Menge et al., 2005). Traditional conventional cages have been long perceived as the most proficient and efficient system for egg type chicken but the negative effect of cage system on welfare of chicken is also being considered widely (Craig & Swanson, 1994). It has been observed that confinement and complexity in conventional cages restricts the birds to limited natural habitat which eliminates the expression of natural behaviors like roosting, nesting and scratching (Baxter, 1994). Banning of conventional cages by European Union and to overcome the lack of natural behaviors, the alternative housing systems are gaining strength day by day to cope with the consumer’s demand. It is assumed that alternative systems can help the birds not only to express their natural behavior but also enhance the economical production traits.

Blood biochemistry is an ideal evaluator of health profile and is frequently used to assess immune status by avian pathologists. Among different parameters of blood biochemistry, serum proteins are useful in estimating the quality of dietary proteins (Alikwe et al., 2010). Similarly, glucose and triglycerides are useful in drawing inference about energy requirement for the body’s biochemical functions and physiological response (Kral & Suchy, 2000). Information regarding the immune status is mandatory to understand the level of disease resistance against infectious diseases. Indigenous chickens can be used as the most efficient model to study immune status against different viral and bacterial infections (Haunshi et al., 2011). The availability of data regarding the performance of different crossbreds of Naked Neck, Black Australorp and Rhode Island Red under aviary and enriched cages is limited and need to be explored. So, its need of the time to work on developing new genotypes with improved growth, better immune response and better acclimatization to local climatic condition and to evaluate their genetic potential under alternative production systems.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

The present project was planned to evaluate the performance of different crossbreds of Naked Neck (NN), Black Australorp (BAL) and Rhode Island Red (RIR) under alternative production systems i.e., Conventional Cages, Aviary systems and Enriched Cages. The study was conducted at the Indigenous Chicken Genetic resource Centre (ICGRC), Department of Poultry Production, UVAS, Ravi Campus Pattoki, Pakistan. Pattoki city is located at 73º50‘60E and 31º1’0N with the altitude of 610 ft (186 m) and normally experiences tropical hot and humid climate where the temperature ranges between 12°C to 45°C.

Population Size

The present study was in the continuation of the previous research project in which the performance of progeny (F1) taken from Rhode Island Red × Naked Neck (RNN) and Black Australorp × Naked Neck (BNN) was evaluated (Ahmad et al., 2019). In the present study, the second generation (F2) of these crossbreds (BNN and RNN) were evaluated in reciprocal crosses. For this purpose, a total of 200 heterozygous partial feather chickens (discarding homozygous full feathered and homozygous naked neck) comprising 50 birds (10 ♂ × 40 ♀) from each crossbred of first generation i.e.; Crossbred I (BNN ♂ × BNN ♀), Crossbred II (BNN ♂ × RNN ♀), Crossbred III (RNN ♂ × RNN ♀) and Crossbred IV (RNN ♂ × BNN ♀) were used to take more than 1200 hatching eggs in the 33rd week of age (Figure 1). The birds were arranged according to a Completely Randomized Design (CRD). the birds were fed commercial breeder ration formulated according to the recommendations of Leeson & Summer (2005) (Table 1, 2). The chicks were brooded under standard managemental conditions up to 6 weeks of age. During brooding phase, the birds were vaccinated against IB and ND according to the local area schedule. After brooding, the birds were divided into three different production systems (conventional cages, enriched cages and aviary systems). A total of 480 birds comprising of 240 pullets with 240 cockerels (60 pullets and 60 cockerels from each crossbred) were used to evaluate the performance during rearing phase (17-21 weeks).

Table 1 Specification for each production system. 

Specifications Conventional cage
(Separate for each sex)
Enriched cage
(Separate for each sex)
Aviary
(Straight run)
Dimensions (Length × Depth × Height) (ft) 2 × 2.5 × 2 3 × 3 × 3 10 × 10 × 10
Stocking Density 5 birds/ cage 5 birds/cage 50 birds / aviary
Floor space per bird 1.08 ft2 (931.9 cm2) 1.75 ft2 (1672 cm2) 2 ft2 (1858 cm2)
Dimensions of Dust bathing Area (Length × width) (ft) ------------------------ 1.79 × 0.83 4.5 × 4.5
Dust bathing Space/bird ------------------------ 0.3 ft2 (276 cm2) 0.4 ft2 (376 cm2)
Perches
Number ------------------------ 1 2
Material ------------------------ Wooden Wooden
Shape ------------------------ Round Round
Diameter (cm) ------------------------ 1.8 4.2
Length 4 ft 10 ft
Height from floor 1.5 ft 3 ft

Table 2 Weekly feed allowance (g) during growing phase. 

Age (weeks) Daily feed allowance (g)
17 44
18 46
19 48
20 50
21 52

Figure 1 Population size. 

Production systems

Chickens reared in enriched cages and aviary systems were provided with perches and dust bathing area. Open sided windowed enclosures ventilated with ceiling fans were used for aviaries and enriched cages. Galvanized round feeders and plastic manual drinkers were used in aviaries and enriched cages. The physical characteristics of each system is explained in Table (3). Birds reared in conventional cage systems were maintained in environmental controlled poultry shed equipped with galvanized three-tiered battery cage system, automatic manure belt, automatic water nipple line and feed trolley (FACCO, Poultry Equipment-C3). Supply of ad libitum fresh water was ensured.

Table 3 Nutrition value and composition of experimental ration during growing phase. 

Feed Ingredient (%) Grower (17-21 weeks) Nutritive value Grower (17-21 weeks)
Corn 59 CP (%) 15.46
Soybean Meal 7 ME (Kcal/Kg) 2913
Rice tips 8.4 Ca (%) 1
Soybean Oil 1.2 Av. P (%) 0.42
Wheat grain 5 Lysine (%) 0.69
Wheat bran 5 Methionine (%) 0.39
Canola Meal 10
Limestone 2.4
Feather Meal 1.1
NaCl 0.30
Methionine 0.12
Total 100

Housing conditions

The duration of the experiments was 5 weeks (June and July) during which the minimum to maximum temperature and humidity were maintained between the range of 28°C to 35°C and 62 % to 77 % respectively inside open sided enclosures while in environmentally control houses the minimum and maximum temperature and humidity ranged between 26°C to 32°C and 66 % to 74 % respectively. Rice husk was used as litter material in both enriched cages and aviaries. Approximately 4 inches depth of bedding material was maintained and racking on daily basis was ensured to uphold its better condition.

Parameters evaluated

Data were collected for morphometric measure-ments on a weekly basis during rearing phase from 17- 21 weeks in terms of body, keel, drumstick and shank length, wing spread and drumstick and shank circumference with the help of measuring tape. To evaluate serum chemistry, 3ml of blood collected from the brachial vein of 3 birds per treatment group was centrifuged to collect serum in Eppendorf tubes and stored at -20oC (Gunes et al., 2002). The serum was analyzed by the method adopted by Kumar & Kumbhakar (2015). Antibody response against NDV was evaluated by Hemagglutination inhibition technique (HI) (Xie et al., 2008).

Behavior

To evaluate the behavioral and welfare related traits, the birds from each treatment groups were observed keenly,11:00 AM to 01:00 PM on a weekly basis. Welfare traits were included dust bathing, jumping, perching, sitting and walking (Costa et al., 2012).

Statistical Analysis

The effect of production systems and genotypes were evaluated on morphometric measurements and carcass traits. Two-way ANOVA technique was used for analysis assuming production systems and genotypes as main effects. Tukey’s HSD test (Tukey, 1953) was employed to compare treatment means at significance level of p≤0.05. Mathematical model is given.

Yijk=µ+Pi+Gj+(P×G)ij+Ԑijk

Where,

Yijk = Observation of dependent variable recorded on ith Production System and jth Genotype

µ = Population mean

Pi = Effect of ith Production System (i = 1, 2, 3)

Gj = Effect of jth Genotype (j = 1, 2, 3, 4)

(P × G) ij = Interaction between production system and Genotype

Ԑijk = Residual error of kth observation on ith Production system and jth genotype NID ~ 0, σ2

RESULTS

Morphometric measurements

The effect of genotypes, production system and their interaction on body weight and morphometric measurements for males and females are explained in Tables 4 and 5. RB and BR genotype chickens (male p<0.0001 and female p=0.0028) were heavier than RR and BB genotype chickens. Females reared in Enriched cages were heavier (p<0.0001) than females reared in Aviary and Conventional cages while males from enriched cages and conventional cages showed higher (p<0.0001) body weights than males reared in aviary system. The interaction between the genotypes and production systems showed the highest body weight of females (p<0.0001) from BR genotype reared in Enriched cage system while males (p<0.0001) of BB genotype reared in aviary system showed the lowest body weight than other interaction groups.

Table 4 Male morphometric measurements at 21 weeks of age. 

GT PS BW BL SL SC DL DC KL WS
RB 1927.82±32.60a 71.32±1.80a 10.61±0.17 4.17±0.04a 15.18±0.23a 9.20±0.22 13.55±0.20 10.48±0.16
RR 1787.92±37.09b 64.19±3.04ab 10.08±0.18 3.81±0.12bc 14.39±0.26ab 8.63±0.14 12.85±0.29 10.25±0.20
BR 1881.78±24.35a 69.34±2.05a 10.34±0.18 4.08±0.09ab 14.90±0.33ab 9.07±0.25 13.09±0.27 10.32±0.16
BB 1733.26±34.02b 57.26±0.90b 10.22±0.23 3.62±0.12c 14.06±0.21b 8.50±0.14 12.45±0.70 10.20±0.22
CC 1859.77±21.55a 66.55±2.38ab 10.21±0.15 4.13±0.06a 14.57±0.19 8.80±0.21 12.20±0.22b 10.09±0.13
AV 1716.71±33.83b 61.86±1.95b 10.35±0.13 3.72±0.10b 14.40±0.21 8.68±0.14 13.74±0.11a 10.47±0.14
EC 1921.61±21.56a 68.17±1.94a 10.37±0.21 3.92±0.10ab 14.93±0.30 9.08±0.17 13.02±0.53ab 10.37±0.19
RB CC 1974.89±34.05a 73.70±3.44ab 10.40±0.31 4.21±0.08a 14.85±0.24 9.11±0.54 12.77±0.34 10.24±0.34
RB AV 1830.43±73.44ab 72.99±3.64abc 10.28±0.24 4.16±0.07ab 14.83±0.28 8.93±0.23 14.00±0.21 10.44±0.18
RB EC 1978.14±32.45a 67.26±1.69abcd 11.14±0.24 4.16±0.10ab 15.87±0.48 9.57±0.36 13.88±0.22 10.76±0.28
RR CC 1803.58±24.46ab 63.81±7.33abcd 9.72±0.20 4.19±0.13a 14.47±0.53 8.62±0.20 11.94±0.63 9.84±0.20
RR AV 1638.23±42.43bc 57.32±2.50d 10.54±0.40 3.39±0.19b 14.09±0.29 8.53±0.21 13.35±0.07 10.42±0.45
RR EC 1921.94±43.51a 71.45±3.55abcd 9.98±0.27 3.85±0.14ab 14.61±0.54 8.76±0.34 13.27±0.45 10.48±0.36
BR CC 1863.57±33.55a 70.98±1.46abcd 10.04±0.36 4.18±0.16a 14.96±0.36 9.03±0.56 12.23±0.54 9.94±0.33
BR AV 1807.20±21.26ab 60.30±2.66bcd 10.46±0.19 3.81±0.14ab 14.79±0.69 8.87±0.43 1378±0.31 10.56±0.16
BR EC 1974.57±32.00a 76.74±0.65a 10.53±0.37 4.26±0.12a 14.96±0.73 9.33±0.40 13.26±0.24 10.46±0.30
BB CC 1797.01±29.22ab 57.73±0.94cd 10.68±0.26 3.93±0.14ab 14.00±0.36 8.45±0.38 11.86±0.20 1035±0.15
BB AV 1591.00±57.75c 56.83±1.66d 10.13±0.21 3.53±0.25ab 13.89±0.20 8.38±0.19 13.82±0.24 10.46±0.36
BB EC 1811.77±18.69ab 57.23±2.18d 9.86±0.60 3.40±0.22b 14.27±0.55 8.66±0.13 11.68±2.09 9.80±0.56
SOV ANOVA
GT < 0.0001 < 0.0001 0.2950 0.0004 0.0165 0.0394 0.2588 0.7490
PS < 0.0001 0.0355 0.7681 0.0043 0.2514 0.2414 0.0085 0.2473
GT × PS < 0.0001 < 0.0001 0.1820 0.0002 0.2424 0.4542 0.1484 0.6199

Note: Superscripts on different means within column differ significantly at p≤0.05.

GT = Genotype; RB = RNN × BNN; RR = RNN × RNN; BR = BNN × RNN; BR = BNN × RNN; BB = BNN × BNN; PS = Production System; CC = Conventional Cages; AV = Aviary; EC = Enriched Cages; SOV = Source of Variation; BW = Body weight (g); BL = Body length (cm); SL = Shank length (cm); SC = Shank circumference (cm); DL = Drumstick length (cm); DC = Drumstick circumference (cm); KL = Keel length (cm); WS = Wing spread (cm); ANOVA = Analysis of Variance.

Table 5 Female morphometric measurements at 21 weeks of age. 

GT PS BW BL SL SC DL DC KL WS
RB 1524.07±2863a 67.18±1.73 8.90±0.56 3.45±0.11 14.31±0.32a 8.62±0.23a 10.84±0.32 10.02±0.21
RR 1390.12±54.21ab 62.00±3.02 8.25±0.39 3.29±0.18 13.39±0.30ab 7.82±0.22ab 10.13±0.33 9.53±0.21
BR 1465.09±58.87a 65.82±2.37 8.82±0.25 3.57±0.12 13.98±0.46ab 8.43±0.25ab 11.12±0.38 9.96±0.20
BB 1317.69±36.57b 60.22±0.89 8.03±0.40 3.10±0.06 12.82±0.30b 7.63±0.31b 10.34±0.36 9.70±0.20
CC 1398.48±39.96b 64.97±2.09ab 8.37±0.35 3.44±0.11 13.70±0.29 8.20±0.18 10.40±0.28 9.54±0.20
AV 1319.84±35.17b 59.71±1.79b 8.74±0.38 3.26±0.14 13.33±0.39 7.80±0.21 10.74±0.26 10.06±0.20
EC 1554.41±36.76a 66.73±1.57a 8.38±0.36 3.35±0.09 13.85±0.28 8.37±0.29 10.68±0.38 9.80±0.12
RB CC 1542.62±48.47abc 69.70±3.41ab 8.88±0.81 3.28±0.32ab 14.38±0.44 8.77±0.22 11.14±0.67 9.76±0.21ab
RB AV 1499.21±32.63abc 68.36±3.43ab 9.75±1.13 3.52±0.13ab 13.96±0.61 8.15±0.58 10.40±0.44 10.89±0.32a
RB EC 1530.36±70.33abc 63.48±1.68ab 8.07±1.02 3.56±0.13ab 14.59±0.67 8.95±0.30 10.98±0.61 9.42±0.22ab
RR CC 1318.21±92.91bc 61.54±7.30ab 7.16±0.88 3.68±0.13a 13.52±0.31 7.87±0.19 10.26±0.76 9.17±0.53b
RR AV 1233.21±37.28c 55.10±2.52b 9.26±0.52 2.62±0.30b 12.93±0.46 7.69±0.21 9.54±0.31 9.48±0.20ab
RR EC 1618.95±17.40ab 69.36±3.24ab 8.34±0.19 3.57±0.28ab 13.71±0.76 7.90±0.68 10.59±0.60 9.93±0.26ab
BR CC 1455.47±83.32abc 68.12±1.38ab 7.96±0.18 3.79±0.16a 14.05±0.67 8.55±0.28 10.53±0.41 9.76±0.45ab
BR AV 1301.13±89.87c 55.42±3.44b 8.62±0.21 3.76±0.26a 13.92±1.29 7.88±0.52 11.21±0.24 10.28±0.38ab
BR EC 1638.67±84.28a 73.92±0.82a 9.88±0.39 3.16±0.13ab 13.98±0.41 8.87±0.44 11.61±1.06 9.83±0.17ab
BB CC 1277.61±33.93c 60.54±0.92ab 9.49±0.34 3.02±0.13ab 12.83±0.73 7.64±0.49 9.66±0.22 9.47±0.40ab
BB AV 1245.81±39.99c 59.96±1.57ab 7.36±0.65 3.15±0.13ab 12.52±0.58 7.47±0.41 11.82±0.45 9.59±0.39ab
BB EC 1429.65±80.43abc 60.18±2.23ab 7.24±0.63 3.12±0.06ab 13.11±0.22 7.77±0.77 9.54±0.58 10.04±0.28ab
SOV ANOVA
GT 0.0028 0.0669 0.4024 0.0770 0.0245 0.0223 0.2001 0.2986
PS < 0.0001 0.0187 0.7185 0.5488 0.4875 0.1805 0.7051 0.1291
GT × PS < 0.0001 0.0009 0.0360 0.0035 0.4785 0.2838 0.0859 0.0833

Note: Superscripts on different means within column differ significantly at p≤0.05.

GT = Genotype; RB = RNN × BNN; RR = RNN × RNN; BR = BNN × RNN; BR = BNN × RNN; BB = BNN × BNN; PS = Production System; CC = Conventional Cages; AV = Aviary; EC = Enriched Cages; SOV = Source of Variation; BW = Body weight (g); BL = Body length (cm); SL = Shank length (cm); SC = Shank circumference (cm); DL = Drumstick length (cm); DC = Drumstick circumference (cm); KL = Keel length (cm); WS = Wing spread (cm); ANOVA = Analysis of Variance

Males of RB and BR genotype showed higher (p<0.0001) body lengths than BB and RR genotypes while non-significant differences (p 0.0669) were observed in body lengths of females among different genotypes. Regarding production systems, chickens reared in enriched cages (male p=0.0355 and female p=0.0187) showed longer bodies than chickens reared in aviary and conventional cages. Chickens of BR genotypes (Males p<0.0001 and females p=0.0009) reared in Enriched cage systems showed significantly higher body lengths than other interaction groups.

Higher (p=0.0004) shank circumference was observed in males of RB genotype followed by males of BR, RR and BB genotypes and conventional cage system (p=0.0043) followed by Enriched cage and aviary system. Shank circumference of females did not differ significantly among the genotypes (p=0.0770) and production systems (p=0.5488). Significant interactions in shank circumference of both sexes (male p=0.0002 female p=0.0035) were noticed.

The drumstick length (male p=0.2514, female p=0.4875) and circumference (male p=0.2414, female p=0.1805) did not differ significantly among birds reared in different production systems. However, longer drumsticks in chickens of RB genotype (male p=0.0165, females p=0.0245) were observed. Females of RB genotype showed higher drumstick circumference (p=0.0223) than other genotypes while males showed non-significant differences (p=0.0394) in drumstick circumference among different genotypes.

Keel length of both the sexes showed non-significant differences (male p=0.2588, females p=0.2001) in all genotypes. Males reared in aviary systems showed higher (p=0.0085) keel length than other males reared in enriched cage and conventional cage systems while females showed no influence (p=0.7051) of production system on keel length. Non-significant differences in wing spread (male p=0.7490, females p=0.2986) and shank length (male p=0.2950, females p=0.4024) of different genotypes and wing spread (male p=0.2473, females p=0.1291) and shank length (male p=0.7681, females p=0.7185) of different production systems were observed. Non-significant interactions were found in the drumstick length (male p=0.2424, females p=0.4785), drumstick circumference (male p=0.4542, females p=0.2838), keel length (male p=0.1484, females p=0.0859), shank length (male p=0.1820, females p=0.0360) and wing spread (male p=0.6199). However, females showed significant differences (p=0.0833) in wing spread among interaction groups.

Antibody response and serum chemistry

Serum chemistry and antibody response of Naked Neck, Black Australorp and Rhode Island Red crossbreds were studied under alternative production systems (Table 6). Among different genotypes, highest glucose level (p=0.0006) was observed in RR genotypes followed by RB, BR and BB genotypes. Among different production systems, the highest glucose level (p<0.0001) was observed in the chickens reared in aviary system followed by conventional cages and enriched cages. Antibody titer against ND (p=0.0235) and IB (p=0.0004) were highest in the chickens reared in aviary systems followed by enriched cages and conventional cages. Significant interactions between genotypes and production systems were observed in glucose (p<0.0001) and total proteins (p=0.0176) among serum chemistry parameters. Similarly, significant interactions in antibody titer against IB (p=0.0073) was observed.

Table 6 Serum chemistry of experimental birds. 

GT PS GLU TP ALB GLB UA CRT CHO ND IB
RB 168.57±5.93ab 4.15±0.14 2.78±0.08 1.57±0.06 6.87±0.45 0.59±0.03 141.15±2.66 4.88±0.09 3704.53±70.35
RR 178.27±4.88a 4.60±0.13 2.65±0.09 1.59±0.06 6.94±0.46 0.58±0.05 136.07±3.55 4.61±0.08 3660.36±69.61
BR 158.36±7.78bc 4.34±0.10 2.66±0.07 1.50±0.04 6.79±0.52 0.59±0.04 138.84±3.24 4.82±0.09 3777.93±66.97
BB 150.51±6.26c 4.41±0.16 2.79±0.05 1.59±0.05 7.80±0.33 0.51±0.01 131.45±5.71 4.77±0.08 3640.27±54.34
CC 163.89±5.44b 4.48±0.15 2.69±0.07 1.55±0.05 7.21±0.31 0.54±0.03 137.30±2.62 4.62±0.05b 3547.71±40.92c
AV 182.06±3.74a 4.42±0.09 2.69±0.06 1.58±0.04 7.14±0.53 0.55±0.03 141.56±3.90 4.93±0.09a 3845.61±52.06a
EC 145.83±4.66c 4.22±0.09 2.78±0.06 1.56±0.05 6.95±0.30 0.61±0.03 131.77±3.44 4.76±0.07ab 3694.00±51.91b
RB CC 181.20±6.51ab 3.94±0.24c 2.71±0.21 1.66±0.15 7.40±0.58 0.63±0.01 132.87±2.73 4.57±0.14 3443.11±73.02d
RB AV 176.06±3.56ab 4.34±0.20bc 2.91±0.10 1.55±0.10 6.32±1.28 0.56±0.07 149.56±1.89 5.10±0.04 3865.49±93.90ab
RB EC 148.45±11.17cd 4.18±0.30bc 2.72±0.13 1.51±0.10 6.88±0.27 0.58±0.07 141.02±4.51 4.96±0.18 3804.99±74.29abc
RR CC 178.25±4.15ab 5.13±0.18a 2.47±0.13 1.58±0.11 6.71±1.04 0.58±0.12 131.79±6.46 4.58±0.09 3674.49±70.27abcd
RR AV 194.56±4.78a 4.39±0.12bc 2.57±0.14 1.58±0.13 7.42±0.86 0.52±0.09 145.61±4.10 4.72±0.19 3735.72±150.43abcd
RR EC 162.01±6.75bc 4.29±0.02bc 2.91±0.14 1.60±0.11 6.71±0.69 0.62±0.07 130.80±5.90 4.53±0.17 3570.86±145.30bcd
BR CC 160.81±8.45bc 4.53±0.20abc 2.63±0.05 1.37±0.06 7.47±0.54 0.45±0.03 138.45±6.03 4.60±0.14 3558.52±98.00bcd
BR AV 185.19±5.74a 4.12±0.19c 2.63±0.14 1.62±0.09 6.79±1.48 0.59±0.10 141.17±8.14 4.99±0.23 3971.75±50.23a
BR EC 129.08±5.88d 4.37±0.11bc 2.73±0.20 1.52±0.02 6.10±0.44 0.73±0.03 136.91±3.19 4.87±0.07 3803.52±91.75abc
BB CC 135.31±4.29d 4.32±0.35bc 2.95±0.06 1.60±0.02 7.27±0.37 0.51±0.04 146.10±3.06 4.75±0.09 3514.71±64.61cd
BB AV 172.44±10.69ab 4.85±0.08ab 2.66±0.08 1.57±0.02 8.04±0.71 0.52±0.01 129.90±12.07 4.89±0.22 3809.47±101.70abc
BB EC 143.78±6.77cd 4.05±0.24c 2.77±0.07 1.61±0.17 8.09±0.68 0.50±0.03 118.35±8.64 4.68±0.07 3596.65±50.30bcd
SOV ANOVA
GT 0.0006 0.1496 0.4543 0.6651 0.3809 0.4790 0.3348 0.1694 0.3222
PS <0.0001 0.2796 0.5503 0.9211 0.8894 0.3545 0.1295 0.0235 0.0004
GT × PS <0.0001 0.0176 0.3388 0.8789 0.8392 0.4009 0.0667 0.1695 0.0073

Note: Superscripts on different means within column differ significantly at p≤0.05.

GT = Genotype; RB = RNN × BNN; RR = RNN × RNN; BR = BNN × RNN; BR = BNN × RNN; BB = BNN × BNN; PS = Production System; CC = Conventional Cages; AV = Aviary; EC = Enriched Cages; SOV = Source of Variation; GLU = Glucose (mg/dL); TP=Total protein (mg/dL); ALB = Albumin (mg/dL); GLB = Globulin (mg/dL); UA = Uric acid (mg/dL); CRT = Creatinine (mg/dL); CHO = Cholesterol (mg/dL); ND = Newcastle Disease (HI titer); IB = Infectious Bronchitis (ELISA titer); ANOVA = Analysis of Variance.

Behavioral Parameters

Significant differences were observed in behavioral pattern of males and females among different production systems (Table 7, 8). As far as males are concerned, higher dust bathing (p<0.0001) was observed in BB genotype than RR, RB and BR genotypes. The rest of the observing parameters including feeding (p=0.9315), jumping (p=0.1032), perching (p=0.9623), sitting (p=0.0928) and walking (p=0.3486) remained the same among the chickens of different genotypes. Among different production systems, higher dust bathing (p<0.0001), feeding (p<0.0001), jumping (p<0.0001) and walking (p<0.0001) were observed in the males reared in aviary system than in the males reared in other production systems. Perching behavior (p<0.0001) was observed to be higher in the chickens reared in enriched cages than in the aviary system. Sitting behavior (p<0.0001) was highest in chickens reared in conventional cages followed by enriched cages and aviary system. Significant interactions among genotypes and production system were observed in the behavioral traits of males.

Table 7 Behavioral response of male birds. 

GT PS Dust bathing Feeding Jumping Perching Sitting Walking
RB 13.69±0.84b 16.20±0.61 0.78±0.14 15.72±1.13 14.75±2.20 10.77±2.68
RR 13.64±0.81b 16.05±0.63 0.74±0.13 15.82±1.13 14.67±2.23 10.69±2.67
BR 13.59±0.84b 16.20±0.61 0.72±0.13 15.72±1.13 14.75±2.20 10.77±2.68
BB 14.22±0.85a 16.28±0.65 0.73±0.13 15.82±1.11 14.31±2.30 10.86±2.68
CC -- 13.98±0.18c 0.03±0.00c -- 23.66±0.09a 0.22±0.00c
AV 16.29±0.07a 19.13±0.27a 1.25±0.01a 12.42±0.13b 3.36±0.12c 24.31±0.07a
EC 11.28±0.07b 15.45±0.16b 0.94±0.01b 19.12±0.12a 16.77±0.12b 7.74±0.08b
RB CC -- 14.09±0.30cd 0.04±0.00d -- 23.56±0.21a 0.21±0.00d
RB AV 16.21±0.05b 19.15±0.59a 1.29±0.04a 12.36±0.31b 3.71±0.12c 24.29±0.10a
RB EC 11.18±0.12d 15.38±0.29bc 1.01±0.04b 19.08±0.24a 16.98±0.22b 7.79±0.15bc
RR CC -- 13.20±0.06d 0.03±0.00d -- 23.58±0.05a 0.23±0.00d
RR AV 16.07±0.09b 18.98±0.13a 1.26±1.01a 12.45±0.29b 3.47±0.27cd 24.19±0.14a
RR EC 11.22±0.10d 15.97±0.09b 0.93±0.02bc 19.18±0.29a 16.97±0.09b 7.66±0.18bc
BR CC -- 14.09±0.30cd 0.03±0.00d -- 23.79±0.26a 0.21±0.00d
BR AV 16.12±0.08b 19.15±0.59a 1.22±0.05a 12.33±0.24b 3.35±0.34cd 24.43±0.13a
BR EC 11.05±0.08d 15.38±0.29bc 0.92±0.02c 19.11±0.17a 16.82±0.25b 7.52±0.06c
BB CC -- 14.53±0.46cd 0.03±0.00d -- 23.71±0.16a 0.23±0.01d
BB AV 16.76±0.08a 19.23±0.84a 1.23±0.03a 12.53±0.30b 2.91±0.13d 24.36±0.18a
BB EC 11.68±0.17c 15.08±0.46bc 0.92±0.01bc 19.12±0.31a 16.33±0.30b 8.00±0.17b
SOV ANOVA
GT <0.0001 0.9315 0.1032 0.9623 0.0928 0.3486
PS <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001
GT × PS <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001

Note: Superscripts on different means within column differ significantly at p≤0.05.

GT = Genotype; RB = RNN × BNN; RR = RNN × RNN; BR = BNN × RNN; BR = BNN × RNN; BB = BNN × BNN; PS = Production System; CC = Conventional Cages; AV = Aviary; EC = Enriched Cages; SOV = Source of Variation; ANOVA = Analysis of Variance.

Table 8 Behavioral response of female birds. 

GT PS Dust bathing Feeding Jumping Perching Sitting Walking
RB 15.01±0.92 14.65±0.47 0.75±0.13 17.89±1.00 15.81±2.31 9.89±2.37
RR 15.23±0.85 14.62±0.40 0.74±0.13 17.87±1.00 15.74±2.32 9.95±2.37
BR 15.30±0.84 14.63±0.42 0.74±0.14 17.83±0.97 15.65±2.33 9.87±2.42
BB 15.15±0.92 14.67±0.54 0.74±0.13 17.85±1.00 15.69±2.32 9.98±2.41
CC -- 12.93±0.06c 0.04±0.00c -- 25.08±0.08a 0.21±0.00c
AV 17.80±0.04a 16.57±0.28a 1.25±0.02a 14.91±0.10b 4.14±0.06c 21.83±0.07a
EC 12.54±0.13b 14.43±0.20b 0.94±0.01b 20.81±0.14a 17.94±0.08b 7.72±0.07b
RB CC -- 12.95±0.14c 0.04±0.00c -- 25.10±0.19a 0.21±0.00d
RB AV 17.74±0.07a 16.61±0.66a 1.24±0.03a 14.99±0.38b 4.29±0.22c 21.64±0.09a
RB EC 12.28±0.34b 14.39±0.46b 0.97±0.02b 20.79±0.48a 18.03±0.22b 7.81±0.19b
RR CC -- 12.88±0.08c 0.03±0.00c -- 25.15±0.15a 0.23±0.00d
RR AV 17.77±0.05a 16.43±0.28a 1.24±0.03a 14.85±0.04b 4.21±0.08c 21.72±0.21a
RR EC 12.68±0.12b 14.54±0.11b 0.94±0.03b 20.88±0.14a 17.85±0.15b 7.91±0.10b
BR CC -- 12.91±0.07c 0.04±0.00c -- 25.10±0.22a 0.20±0.01d
BR AV 17.81±0.12a 16.52±0.43a 1.26±0.06a 14.96±0.22b 4.01±0.04c 21.98±0.16a
BR EC 12.79±0.18b 14.46±0.26b 0.92±0.04b 20.70±0.30a 17.83±0.19b 7.43±0.12c
BB CC -- 12.98±0.22c 0.04±0.00c -- 24.97±0.09a 0.21±0.01d
BB AV 17.89±0.05a 16.70±0.90a 1.25±0.02a 14.84±0.12b 4.04±0.03c 21.99±0.08a
BB EC 12.41±0.35b 14.32±0.67b 0.92±0.02b 20.86±0.21a 18.06±0.13b 7.73±0.12bc
SOV ANOVA
GT 0.5108 0.9990 0.9529 0.9966 0.6331 0.6859
PS <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001
GT × PS <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001

Note: Superscripts on different means within column differ significantly at p≤0.05.

GT = Genotype; RB = RNN × BNN; RR = RNN × RNN; BR = BNN × RNN; BR = BNN × RNN; BB = BNN × BNN; PS = Production System; CC = Conventional Cages; AV = Aviary; EC = Enriched Cages; SOV = Source of Variation; ANOVA = Analysis of Variance.

As far as behavioral parameters of females are concerned, non-significant differences were observed in the behavior of chickens from different genotypes. Among different production systems, higher dust bathing (p<0.0001), feeding (p<0.0001), jumping (p<0.0001), and walking (p<0.0001) were observed in the females reared in aviary system than in the females reared in other production systems. Perching (p<0.0001) was observed to be higher in females reared in enriched cages than in the females reared in aviary system. Sitting (p<0.0001) was highest in females reared in conventional cages followed by enriched cages and conventional cages. Significant interactions among genotypes and production system were observed in the behavioral traits of females.

DISCUSSION

Morphometric measurements

The present study revealed the effect of genotype and production systems on the growth, morphometric measurements, serum chemistry and antibody response. Body weight of both males and females were significantly higher in RB and BR genotypes when compared with RR and BB genotypes. This might be attributed to the additive gene action between genes of RNN and BNN genotypes. Similarly, both RB and BR genotypes showed significantly higher body length, shank length and drumstick lengths as compared to BB and RR genotypes. This might be ascribed by the body weight differences in genotypes as the positive association between body weight and body measurements is the well-known fact. However, non-significant differences were observed among genotypes in terms of wing spread. The effect of crossbreeding between Rhode Island Red, Black Australorp and Naked neck were also explained by Ahmad et al. (2019a) where they reported the higher body weight, shank circumference and keel length of progeny obtained when Rhode Island Red and Black Australorp were crossed with naked neck chicken. Variations in morphological traits among genotypes has also been explained by Qureshi et al. (2018) where they reported the differences in varieties of Aseel chicken of Pakistan. Adekoya et al. (2013) reported dissimilarities in morphometric traits among different chicken genotypes of Nigeria. As far as the production system is concerned, higher body weight and body lengths were observed in enriched cage system when compared with aviary and conventional cage systems. Higher keel length of males was observed in aviary system whereas non-significant differences were observed in the drumstick length and drumstick circumference. The lowest body weight of chickens in the aviary system might be attributed to their vigorous activities, as birds have enough space to do more exercise thus utilizing more nutrients and burning of calories. Higher body lengths associated with higher body weights in enriched cage system might be due to less stress and more countenance of natural behavior. Availability of perches and dust bathing in enriched cages provides stress free compact space less than aviary to prevent nutrient wastage and more than conventional cage in which no materials were provided to express natural behavior. Higher shank circumference was observed in the conventional cage system which showed the negative association of shank circumference and perching behavior as conventional cages were not equipped with any perching material. Similar findings have also been observed by Ahmad et al. (2019a) who found lower body weight of chicken reared in free range system compared with semi intensive and intensive systems in which chickens were 9- 14 % heavier. The present findings are also in accordance with the observations of Olaniye et al. (2012) and Rehman et al. (2016). Lower body weight of slow growing broilers reared in free range system has also been explained by Stadig et al. (2016).

Serum chemistry and antibody response

In the present study, higher glucose level was observed in BB genotype than in RR, RB and BR genotypes which might be attributed to the specific genetic makeup of BB chickens. Another possible reason behind the higher glucose level in BB genotype might be the insulin inhibition due to higher fat contents. However, in previous studies, non-significant effect of genotype on plasma glucose level has been reported (Ahmad et al., 2019a). In the present study, higher plasma glucose level was observed in chickens reared in aviary system followed by chickens reared in conventional cages and enriched cage. Similar findings have also been reported in previous studies in which significant variations has been observed in plasma glucose level of chickens reared in different production systems (Gunes et al., 2002, Rehman et al., 2016, Ahmad et al., 2019a). Non-significant variations in albumin, globulin, uric acid and blood cholesterol level was observed in the chickens of different production systems. Negligible effect of production systems on blood cholesterol level has been reported in previous studies (Elerogly et al., 2011, Diktas et al., 2015, Elerogly et al., 2015). As far as antibody response is concerned, the highest antibody titer against ND and IB was observed in chickens reared in aviary system followed by enriched cages and conventional cages. The highest antibody response in chickens reared in aviary system revealed its potential of acclimatization and survival in harsh climatic conditions. This might be attributed to stress free environment with better expression of natural behaviors in aviary system which may enhance the robustness against stressors and fighting ability against disease causing agents. This showed that increased stress in conventional cages inhibits the immune response against diseases while natural behaviors enhance the welfare traits and boosts immunity in aviary system. Ahmad et al. (2019a) also reported the higher antibody response in chickens reared in free range system when compared with those reared in semi intensive and intensive housing systems.

Behavioral Parameters

In the present study, higher dust bathing was observed in the males of BB genotype than in RR, BR and RB genotypes which might be due to its specific genetic adaptation. As far as production systems are concerned, dust bathing, feeding, jumping and walking behavior was higher in the aviary system than in the enriched cages and conventional cages. This might be due to the availability of ample space which provoked explorative behavior and stimulated foraging. Chickens were provided with the opportunity to express natural doings which enhanced the comfort zone with reduced stress and encouraged activities. In previous studies, Ponte et al. (2008) observed increased foraging behavior of commercial broilers in free range area when compared with confined area. Similarly, increased feeding behavior of commercial layers was noticed when provided with free range access (Shimmura et al., 2008). Restricted explorative behaviors in confinement has been explained by Irfan et al. (2016) who reported higher immobility of turkeys (Maleagris gallopavo) in confinement than free range chickens. Mench et al. (2001) found that frequency of perching, leg stretching and wing flapping was increased when broilers were provided with outdoor access. Rehman et al. (2018) reported increased walking of indigenous Aseel chicken in part time free range. In the present study, sitting behavior was noticed to be highest in the conventional cages than in the enriched cages and aviary system which might be attributed to less moving capacity in conventional cages which dampens the activities and bird movements which were restricted to sitting and stimulated short duration expressions. Similar findings have been reported by Ahmad et al. (2019b) who found higher aggressive, standing and sitting behavior of chickens in intensive cage system. Rehman et al. (2018) reported higher standing and sitting behavior of Aseel chickens in confinement. Irfan et al. (2016) observed more frequent standing and sitting behavior of turkeys in intensive system than in free range system.

CONCLUSIONS

It can be concluded that RB and BR genotypes had better body weight and body length. Among genotypes, chickens reared in enriched cage system had better morphological traits while plasma glucose level and antibody response were more pronounced in aviary production system along with more explorative natural behavior.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The authors gratefully acknowledge the Administration at Indigenous Chicken Genetic Resource Centre, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Ravi Campus, Pattoki, Pakistan for their help during the biological trial.

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Received: January 28, 2020; Accepted: April 19, 2020

Corresponding author e-mail address Muhammad Usman Department of Poultry Production, Faculty of Animal Production and Technology, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore-Pakistan. Phone: +92-322-8024228 Email: musman@uvas.edu.pk

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

No potential conflict of interest was found by the authors.

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