Department of Animal Science


Date of this Version



2004 Poultry Science Association, Inc.


2004 Poultry Science 83:895–900


In the hen, heat stress (HS) disrupts shell calcification and reproductive processes, including hormone synthesis and egg production. Two studies were conducted to investigate palliative effects of exogenous estrogen or dietary vitamin D3 on Ca homeostasis and reproductive physiology during HS. Study 1: Hy-Line W36 hens were randomly assigned to thermoneutral (TN) or HS treatments and to 1 of 7 estrogen treatments: zero (control) or one Compudose 200 implant given 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, or 10 d before onset of HS. With no implant, HS reduced plasma estradiol (E2) and total Ca absorbed (CaT) by duodenal cells (P < 0.05). In TN hens with implants, plasma E2 tripled within 24 h (P < 0.05) and remained elevated (P < 0.05) through d 9. In HS hens with implants, plasma E2 rose 6-fold (P < 0.05) to equal TN+E2 concentrations and remained elevated through d 10. In TN and HS hens with implants, the rate of Ca absorption (CaTR) and CaT increased dramatically; the responses were quadratic and essentially identical. Study 2: Hy-Line W36 hens were provided diets formulated either according to NRC requirements (NRC, 1994), or with the addition of 22,000 IU/kg vitamin D3 (+VD hens). A 24-h HS episode was imposed 2 wk after initiation of the dietary regimen. Duodenal samples were collected for Ca absorption assays after the 24-h HS episode. Both CaTR and CaT in +VD hens were approximately 3-fold higher than in hens in the NVD group (P = 0.102). The results lead to the conclusion that exogenous estrogen, high levels of dietary vitamin D, or both, before a HS episode, are efficacious in alleviating at least some of the effects of HS and should be further investigated.