Effects on chick performance of ammonia and heat stressors in various combination sequences.

R. W. Johnson, S. E. Curtis, R. D. Shanks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effects of previous experience with a stressor on chicks' subsequent performance when exposed later to the same stressor or to a different stressor. Performance was measured in chicks exposed to aerial ammonia, environmental heat, or both in reciprocal sequences in two consecutive periods. Four (2 x 2 factorial) treatment combinations of ammonia [0 ppm (a) or 125 ppm (A)] and heat [30 C (h) or 36.5 C (H]) stressors were imposed in each of two consecutive 4-day periods, giving a total of 16 treatments. Weight gain (G), feed intake (F), and the gain:feed ratio (G:F) in Periods 1 (Days 9 to 13 posthatch) and 2 (Days 13 to 17 posthatch) were analyzed. Stressors decreased performance in both periods, but the effect was greater in Period 2. Synergism between A and H in Period 2 decreased chicks' G, F, and G:F in Period 2. Stress-depressed productive traits in Period 1 were succeeded in Period 2 not by residual negative effects but by compensatory responses: prior exposure to stressors in Period 1 was not detrimental to the chicks' subsequent G or G:F in Period 2. For example, chicks switched from Treatment ah in Period 1 to AH in Period 2 had lower G in Period 2 than did those going from either Ah, aH, or AH in Period 1 to AH in period 2. It was concluded that exposure to stressors early on enhanced the chicks' ability to cope with the same or with different stressors later and that compensatory responses occurred as the result of short-term exposure to stressors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1132-1137
Number of pages6
JournalPoultry science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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