Electrolyte supplementation to alleviate severe heat stress


Meat chickens are highly susceptible to heat stress, particularly during periods of prolonged hot weather events in shed conditions and also during transport. Heatwaves in Australia are expected to become a regular occurrence, so there is a need to identify and implement strategies that complement current strategies to reduce heat stress in meat chickens, such as using electrolytes.

This research is a continuation of project PRJ-009120: Electrolyte supplementation of broilers prior to transport which found the adverse effects of hot weather are observed when the outside temperature is >36°C, which relates to an inside shed temperature of 26–28°C, and found that electrolytes in the water supply can alleviate this stress.

The research aimed to determine whether supplementing meat chickens with electrolytes in the final few days of the production period, during high temperatures, would:

  • improve carcass quality and performance, and
  • reduce the effects of dehydration and physiological stress during transport and lairage.

Learn more

Listen to a podcast with Dr Jeff Downing from the University of Sydney about the key project outcomes.

Download a copy of the Final report summary: Electrolyte supplementation to alleviate the adverse effects of severe heat stress in meat chickens (PDF, 135KB).

Download a copy of the Final report: Electrolyte supplementation to alleviate the adverse effects of severe heat stress in meat chickens (PDF, 1.4MB).

Project details

Project code: PRJ-010953
Principal investigator: Jeff Downing
Research organisation: University of Sydney
Project duration: July 2018 – September 2019

Related research

This project is a continuation of PRJ-009120: Electrolyte supplementation of broilers prior to transport (PDF, 113KB), which assessed the impacts of electrolyte supplementation in water supplied to meat chickens prior to transport, to determine its effect on dehydration and carcass weight loss.

Contact

Dr Jeff Downing, University of Sydney, jeff.downing@sydney.edu.au

Georgie Townsend, Manager, Research – Chicken Meat RD&E Program – Whole Supply Chain, AgriFutures Australia, georgina.townsend@agrifutures.com.au

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