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Keywords:

  • γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA);
  • heat stress;
  • laying hens;
  • laying performance

ABSTRACT

This study was conducted to evaluate the effect of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) on laying performance, egg quality, digestive enzyme activity, hormone level and immune activities in Roman hens under heat stress. Roman hens (320 days old) were fed with 0, 25, 50, 75 and 100 mg/kg GABA, respectively during a 60-day experiment. Compared with control, supplementation of 50 mg/kg GABA improved the laying performance and egg quality by significantly increasing egg production, average egg weight and shell strength (P < 0.05), while decreasing the feed–egg ratio and cholesterol level. Anti-oxidation activity was improved by significantly increasing the activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), but decreasing malondialdehyde level in serum (P < 0.05), while significantly increasing the glucose and total protein (TP) level, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estradiol (E2), insulin, triiodothyronine (T3) and free triiodothyronine (FT3) levels, and IgG, IgA and complement (C3)activity in serum (P < 0.05). The results indicated that oral GABA improved laying performance and physical condition mainly by modulating hormone secretion, enhancing anti-oxidation and immune activity, and maintaining electrolyte balance. Fifty mg/kg was the optimum level for laying hens under heat stress in the present study.