Feathers may be problematic to chickens in thermoregulation during heat stress. This study was conducted to investigate the effect of clipping feathers, dietary ascorbic acid supplementation and season on performance of laying chickens. 180 ‘Isa Brown’ (IB) layers of about 30 weeks old were subjected to a 2×2×2 factorial combination of feather conditions (intact and clipping), dietary ascorbic acid supplementation (0 and 300 ppm) and season (early dry, ED and late dry, LD) during a trial using a factorial design. The birds were randomly allotted to 8 treatments consisting of treatment one (basal diet and intact feathers); treatment two (basal diet and clipped feathers); treatment three (basal diet supplemented with 300 ppm ascorbic acid and intact feathers) and treatment four (basal diet supplemented with 300 ppm ascorbic acid and clipped feathers) in both ED and LD seasons. Results showed that clipping feathers significantly improved (P<0.05) hen-day production (HDP), feed consumption (FC), feed/dozen egg (F/Doz), egg mass (EM), egg weight (EW), egg shell thickness (EST) and % egg shell weight (%ESW). Dietary ascorbic acid supplementation at a dose of 300 ppm significantly improved (P<0.05) the performance of laying chickens in hen-day egg production, feed/bird/day, feed/dozen egg, egg mass, egg weight and eggshell thickness. Season significantly improved (P<0.05) HDP, water intake (WI), EM and EW. The effect of the interactions of the three factors were significant (P>0.05) on HDP, WI, F/Doz., EW, and ESW. However, the effect of the interactions of the three factors were not significant (P>0.05) on FC, EM, EST and %ESW. Finally, clipping of feathers alone; secondly, dietary ascorbic acid supplementation at 300 ppm alone; and thirdly, a combination of the two, can be efficient in condition of heat stress.
Key words: Feathers, ascorbic acid, season.
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