The majority of poultry meat used to be sourced from intensively housed birds. However, consumer preference has since demanded poultry producers develop more sustainable farming systems. Although free-range farming is considered beneficial for animal welfare, it is not as easy to standardize as an intensive system, which makes the choice of bird genotype appear crucial for alternative systems. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the effect of conventional and free-range rearing systems on the immune status, stress parameters, intestinal morphology and mortality in commercial hybrids (Ross 308) and local poultry strains, Bionda Pie-montese (BP), Robusta Maculata (RM), BP x Sasso (BPxS), and RM x Sasso (RMxS). RNA was extracted from the jejunum and spleen to assess the mRNA expression of IL-2, IL-6, IL-10, IL-18, IL-1b, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), toll-like receptor (TLR)-4, and interferon gamma (IFN-g). The heterophil:lym-phocyte (H/L) ratio and intestinal histomorphometric evaluation were also calculated. We found that com-pared to the conventional system, the rearing system sig-nificantly affected the jejunum expression of IL-10, iNOS, IL-2, and IL-6, where these genes were upregulated in free-range system. A significant interaction between the rearing system and the genotype was also shown. More specifically, local breeds showed a signifi-cantly higher expression (P < 0.001) of IL-6 in the free -range system compared to the same genotypes in the conventional system. Moreover, IL-6 is constantly upre-gulated in local breeds within the free-range system com-pared to Ross hybrids. We also found significantly increased H/L and mortality rates in the latter, com-pared to the local breeds in the free-range reared system. The jejunum morphology also demonstrated a signifi-cantly higher villus height in BP and BPxS compared to the Ross hybrids. Overall, the results of our study con -firm that the intense selection for growth in broiler chickens may have reduced their ability to react to the environmental stimuli related to free-range systems, resulting in a lower adaptability to a free-range environment, thus making them inappropriate for any farming system other than the conventional one. On the contrary, local chicken breeds are able to adapt and survive in the free-range system of rearing, and represent a genetic resource especially when adaptability to free -range conditions is required.

Effect of rearing systems on immune status, stress parameters, intestinal morphology, and mortality in conventional and local chicken breeds

Stefanetti V.;Pascucci L.;Menchetti L.;Castellini C.;Chiattelli D.;Franciosini M. P.;Proietti P. C.
2023

Abstract

The majority of poultry meat used to be sourced from intensively housed birds. However, consumer preference has since demanded poultry producers develop more sustainable farming systems. Although free-range farming is considered beneficial for animal welfare, it is not as easy to standardize as an intensive system, which makes the choice of bird genotype appear crucial for alternative systems. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the effect of conventional and free-range rearing systems on the immune status, stress parameters, intestinal morphology and mortality in commercial hybrids (Ross 308) and local poultry strains, Bionda Pie-montese (BP), Robusta Maculata (RM), BP x Sasso (BPxS), and RM x Sasso (RMxS). RNA was extracted from the jejunum and spleen to assess the mRNA expression of IL-2, IL-6, IL-10, IL-18, IL-1b, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), toll-like receptor (TLR)-4, and interferon gamma (IFN-g). The heterophil:lym-phocyte (H/L) ratio and intestinal histomorphometric evaluation were also calculated. We found that com-pared to the conventional system, the rearing system sig-nificantly affected the jejunum expression of IL-10, iNOS, IL-2, and IL-6, where these genes were upregulated in free-range system. A significant interaction between the rearing system and the genotype was also shown. More specifically, local breeds showed a signifi-cantly higher expression (P < 0.001) of IL-6 in the free -range system compared to the same genotypes in the conventional system. Moreover, IL-6 is constantly upre-gulated in local breeds within the free-range system com-pared to Ross hybrids. We also found significantly increased H/L and mortality rates in the latter, com-pared to the local breeds in the free-range reared system. The jejunum morphology also demonstrated a signifi-cantly higher villus height in BP and BPxS compared to the Ross hybrids. Overall, the results of our study con -firm that the intense selection for growth in broiler chickens may have reduced their ability to react to the environmental stimuli related to free-range systems, resulting in a lower adaptability to a free-range environment, thus making them inappropriate for any farming system other than the conventional one. On the contrary, local chicken breeds are able to adapt and survive in the free-range system of rearing, and represent a genetic resource especially when adaptability to free -range conditions is required.
2023
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11391/1565613
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