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Stress in Broilers

Stress has been defined as the sum of all biological reactions to mental, emotional and physical stimuli that disrupt an individual’s homeostasis, as it relates to bodily functions. There is a myriad of internal and external stimuli that can affect the homeostasis of an individual. Once homeostasis is disrupted, the body elicits physiological stress responses involving the immune system in an attempt to reestablish homeostasis.

Undoubtedly, broilers experience various stressors everyday of production. When broilers encounter a stressor, the neurogenic system is activated.1 Failure to combat or flee from the stressor immediately results in the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal cortical system. 1 Activation of this system eventually leads to the proliferation of adrenal cortical tissue, which in turn secretes corticosteroids.2 Previous research has shown that corticosteroids have a negative impact on broiler growth.3 Chromium included in broiler feed as chromium propionate (Cr Prop) can be added to broiler diets at a concentration of 200 parts per billion (ppb).4 Chromium has been shown to reduce the levels of corticosteroids in birds, alleviating the negative impacts of stress.5 Previous research has shown Cr Prop positively effecting performance of broilers during heat stress.6,7 Additionally, Cr Prop has been shown to improve performance of broilers raised during the fall at a stocking density of 1.00 square foot.8

A research trial on chromium supplementation in broilers conducted by a land-grant university evaluated the effect of KemTRACE® Chromium on growth, performance and carcass yield in straight run Ross 708 broilers.9 The improvement in carcass yields was 1.17% and breast meat yield was 0.51% with an improved feed conversion ratio. Chromium supplementation may alleviate the negative effects of stress on growth, performance and carcass traits. Read more about this trial here.

Effects of KemTRACE Chromium on Perform...



1Siegel, H. S. (1980). Physiological stress in birds. Bioscience 30:529–534.
2Holmes, W. N., and J. G. Phillips (1976). The adrenal cortex of birds. Pages 293–420 in General, Comparative and Clinical Endocrinology of the Adrenal Cortex. I. Chester Jones and I. W. Henderson, ed. Academic Press, New York, NY.
3Dupont J., M. Derouet, J. Simon and M. Taouis (1999). Corticosterone alters insulin signaling in chicken muscle and liver at different steps. Journal of Endocrinology 162, 67-76.
421 CFR Part 573.304, Chromium Propionate.
5Mirfendereski E. and R. Jahanian (2015). Effects of dietary organic chromium and vitamin C supplementation on performance, immune responses, blood metabolites, and stress status of laying hens subjected to high stocking density. Poultry Science 94: 281-288.
6Vignale, K, Koltes D., Weil J., West S., Weimer S.L., Iseri V. and Christensen K.D (2017). The effect of chromium propionate on performance responses in heat stressed male broiler chickens. 2017 International Poultry Scientific Forum. Atlanta, GA. Abstract T181, page 53.
7Kemin Internal Document, 17-00187.
8Kemin Internal Document, 17-00208.
9Lester, T., K. Brown, C. Eagleson, V. Iseri, J. Lee (2017). Evaluation of chromium propionate on broiler growth performance and processing yields. Journal of Poultry Science 96( E-suppl. 1): 188.

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