Canadian Poultry Magazine

Study reveals benefits of increased dark periods for broiler chicks

By Canadian Poultry magazine   

News Health

New research from the University of Georgia challenges long-held beliefs.

Recent research funded by USPOULTRY and the USPOULTRY Foundation, and conducted by Dr. Brian Fairchild from the University of Georgia, suggests that increasing dark periods after the placement of broiler chicks could yield unexpected benefits.

Traditionally, broiler producers maintain 23 to 24 hours of light during the first week to maximize feed intake and growth. However, this study indicates that incorporating dark periods does not negatively affect performance and may even enhance overall health.

Dr. Fairchild’s research, part of a comprehensive program supported by a donation from Koch Foods, evaluated the effects of zero, four, and six-hour dark periods on broiler performance and physiological responses.


The study revealed that while dark periods initially slowed growth, the chicks displayed compensatory growth from days 10 to 21, achieving higher body weights and similar feed efficiency compared to those under continuous light.

Additionally, the introduction of dark periods increased melatonin levels and potentially reduced lameness, providing a practical and beneficial approach for broiler producers.

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