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Animal Health

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Livestock Production
Friday, March 31, 2006 9:00:00 AM
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Optimising broiler performance - the role of physical feed quality

M. Kenny and E. Flemming


Successful broiler development is dependant on optimal feed intake throughout the growing period. This is dependant on a number of factors such as environmental temperature, diet nutrient density and physical feed quality. Growth can be improved by as much as 39 percent and feed efficiency by as much as 12 percent when comparing pellets to mash.


More recent research work has shown introduction of increased levels of fines to birds resulting in higher levels of growth depression and growth retardation.


It would seem the broilers response to pellets has been increasing over time emphasizing. The different levels of fines fed to broilers to 31 days of age was investigated.


The results of this trial concur with other trials conducted by Aviagen examining the effect of poor feed physical quality of broiler performance.


The trials confirm that the higher the level of fines fed the lower the performance will be, regardless of the manner in which the fines are presented.


It is suggested that as pellet quality increases either the bird expends less energy for consumption or the bioavailability of nutrients and/or energy increases. Previous reports indicate that birds provided pellets visited the feeder less frequently and spent less time at the feeder while consuming similar amounts of feed as mash.


Behaviour observations by Teeter et al. (2005) showed that as the proportion of pellets in the feeder increased, birds were observed to eat less frequently and rest more frequently compared to birds fed mash.


Recent Aviagen data shows differences in feeding behaviour between birds fed either pelleted or crumbed products. Comparing an average of individual bird intake data from 14 to 32 days shows that birds fed crumb had lower cumulative feed intake and lower bodyweights compared to pellets. The amount of feed consumed per meal and duration of each meal increased when birds were fed crumb hence the total amount of time spent eating was much higher in crumb fed birds than pellet fed. This agrees with earlier work where duration of each meal increased when feeding mash compared to pellet.


Birds fed pellets fed more frequently than those fed crumb which contrasts with previous work which showed that as the proportion of pellets increased the number of meals reduced.


The total time spent eating was higher on crumb fed birds which will increase energy expenditure relative to pellet fed birds. Our data would suggest that birds fed pellets tend to 'snack' or eat smaller quantities but more frequently than birds fed crumbs which seem to be 'diners' preferring larger and longer meals less frequently.


These observations emphasise the importance of providing adequate feeding space especially when birds are fed crumb type products.


It is apparent that feed physical form will have a dramatic impact on bird behaviour and biological performance.


Pellet quality may be improved by manipulation of diet formulation; use of raw materials with good binding ability such as wheat, barley, rape and use of pellet binders will have an influence.



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Article made possible through the contribution of the Australian Poultry Science Symposium (APSS) 2006.

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