Ghrelin plasma concentration does not covary with energy demand in adult laying hens
The peptide hormone ghrelin is suggested to be involved in food intake regulation in young growing chicken. Whether ghrelin is involved in the regulation of energetic balance associated with laying performance in adult laying hens was studied by use of 4 chicken lines that differ in laying performance and phylogeny (4 lines; 16 hens per line). As housing conditions are also known to affect energy demand, half of the hens per line were housed in single cages and the other half of hens were maintained in a floor housing system. Plasma samples were collected at 17 to 19, 33 to 35, 49 to 51 and 72 wk of age and analyzed with a chicken ghrelin ELISA Kit. From caged hens, individual food consumption and laying performance additionally was recorded. Due to its function in growth and its relationship with Ghrelin, also GH plasma concentrations were analyzed. Ghrelin concentrations did not differ between the four lines at any of the test periods (all P > 0.05). Ghrelin was negatively related to food consumption only in the growing period of the high performing lines (both P < 0.0001). During this phase, floor-housed hens showed greater ghrelin concentrations compared to caged hens (P < 0.0001). Our results suggest that in adult layers ghrelin is not involved in regulating energy intake related to laying performance but rather seems to be related to body growth and housing condition before start of lay, the latter possibly due to differences in hens’ behavioral activity.