In turkey hens, the egg production rate is relatively high early during a reproductive period, but declines as the period progresses. Among lines with different egg production potential, the interval between preovulatory surges of LH is the primary determinant of the egg production rate. The main objective of this study was to determine whether the decline in egg production rate late during an egg production period is also associated with a difference in the interval between LH preovulatory surges. A group of photosensitive turkey hens (Early) were photostimulated with continuous light (24L:0D) at 40 wk of age to induce egg laying, and serial blood samples were collected after about 3 wk of egg production. A second group of hens (Late) were housed in floor pens and photostimulated with 14L:10D at 40 wk of age for a normal 36-wk reproduction period and were then switched to 24L:0D lighting for 2 wk before collection of serial blood samples. Continuous light photostimulation was used for at least 2 wk before and during serial blood sampling to avoid potential masking effects of diurnal lighting on the interval between LH surges. The Early (n = 12) and Late (n = 16) hens were cannulated 3 days before being serially bled hourly for 10 days. The mean interval between preovulatory surges of LH was shorter in the Early hens than in the Late hens (26.1 ± 2.5 h and 34.7 ± 3.9 h, respectively). The intra-hen LH surge interval coefficient of variation was lower in the Early hens than in the Late hens (7.2% and 18.6%, respectively). The inter-hen LH surge interval coefficient of variation was similar in the Early and Late hens (9.5% and 11.2%, respectively). The incidence of blind surges of LH (those not retrospectively associated with ovipositions) was not different between Early and Late laying hens (8.4% ± 15.2% and 7.3% ± 14.6%, respectively). In conclusion, in turkey hens, longer intervals and greater intra-hen variation between LH surges were associated with a poorer rate of egg production late in the reproductive period relative to early in the reproductive period.
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