Coturnix coturnix, lighting, sunrise/sunset, corticosterone


Both genetics and environment play important roles in the growth, performance, and overall welfare of poultry species. Current commercial production practices typically do not mimic the natural environmental conditions of ancestral poultry species, specifically lighting. The current study aimed to evaluate the impact of genetics and the effect of sunrise/sunset lighting on the stress response of 4 genetic lines of Coturnix quail. The 4 lines utilized in this study included high stress (H), low stress (L), stress control (R), and Arkansas randombred (A) quail lines. Day old chicks from these lines were placed in one of two environmentally controlled rooms. All conditions were kept similar between the rooms until week 4. At week 4, half of the quail in each room were relocated to the other room and the experimental conditions began. One room was subjected to sudden on/off lighting while the other room was subjected to a 1-hour long sunrise/sunset treatment. At 8 weeks of age, blood was collected from one bird in each line of quail at 5 time points: before lights on, 3 points during sunrise lighting, and after lights were on at full intensity. The subsequent plasma samples were evaluated for their corticosterone concentrations. Quail housed in the sunrise/sunset lighting room had numerically lower corticosterone concentrations overall and transferred quail had numerically elevated corticosterone concentrations. In conclusion, sunrise/sunset lighting has the potential to improve overall production, regardless of genetic line.