The effect of thermal stress on egg production in layer chickens under deep litter system in House hold
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Despite the presence of a large number of chickens in Uganda, their contribution to the national economy is still limited due to thermal stress, tropical diseases and nutritional limitations. This study carried out in Kibaale, Mid-Western Uganda was therefore meant to assess farmers’ awareness of the effect of Thermal Stress (TS) on egg production, determine the effect of TS on egg production in layers under deep litter system and assess farmers’ acceptability of measures to control TS and its effects. A survey was carried out in the area of study to assess farmers’ awareness of the effect of thermal stress on egg production after which a CRD experiment was conducted on a farmer’s poultry farm in the study area to determine the effect of TS on feed intake, egg production end egg weight. A total of 180 Hy-line brown layers of 24 weeks were randomly assigned to three thermal treatments of 180C, 240C, and 320C for two weeks. The 240C treatment acted as a control set up since it is within the TCZ. Each treatment was replicated 4 times with each replicate having 15 birds. The survey data obtained was analyzed using SPSS while GenStat was used to analyse experimental data. The ANOVA at a significance level of 95%, (0.05) was used. Whereas survey results revealed that most respondents (82%) had no knowledge of the effect of TS on egg production, experimental results showed that temperature treatments significantly (p<0.05) affected feed intake, number of eggs laid an egg weight. At 180C feed intake increased by 9.5% but egg production decreased by 33.3%. At 320C both feed intake and egg production decreased by 20.8% and 40.0% respectively. Farmers’ acceptability to adopt efficient, flexible and recommended methods to control TS was low at only 11.11%. Although both low temperature and high temperature stress depressed egg production and need to be controlled effectively to improve on egg productivity, high temperature stress was more disastrous than low temperature stress. Findings indicate that there is need for an action research which is participatory where selected farmers can be involved in the study under farmer conditions so that they can effectively control thermal stress.