Animal (Jan 2020)

The effect of alternative feeding strategies on the feeding motivation of broiler breeder pullets

  • A. Arrazola,
  • T.M. Widowski,
  • M.T. Guerin,
  • E.G. Kiarie,
  • S. Torrey

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 14, no. 10
pp. 2150 – 2158


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Due to genetic selection for fast growth and high breast meat yield, commercial strains of broiler chickens and broiler breeders are predisposed to high feed intake; however, feeding broiler breeders ad libitum impairs their health and reproductive performance. Broiler breeders are feed-restricted throughout rearing to maintain health and performance, yet feed restriction results in hunger, feeding frustration and lack of satiety. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of alternative feeding strategies, including feed additives (separately or combined) and a fixed non-daily feeding schedule, on the feeding motivation and welfare of broiler breeders during rearing. At 3 weeks of age, 180 Ross 308 breeder pullets were allocated to 90 cages and fed with one of five isocaloric treatments: (1) daily control diet (control), (2) daily calcium propionate diet (CaP), (3) daily soybean hull diet (SBH), (4) daily alternative diet (alternative: CaP + SBH) and (5) 4/3 control diet (four on-feed days and three non-consecutive off-feed days per week). The CaP diet included calcium propionate at 1.4% from 3 to 6 weeks of age, and at 3.2% from 7 to 12 weeks of age, and the SBH diet contained soybean hulls included at 40%. The alternative diet included both soybean hulls and calcium propionate at the same inclusion rate as the SBH and CaP diets, respectively. Pullets were weighed and scored for feather coverage every week. A feed intake test was conducted at 3, 4, 8, 10 and 11 weeks of age for 10 min during on- and off-feed days. At 12 weeks of age, feather samples were analysed for fault bars. Data were analysed using linear mixed regression models, with cage nested in the models and age as a repeated measure. At 4 weeks of age, pullets fed soybean hull-enriched diets (SBH and alternative diets) and those on the 4/3 schedule had lower feed intake than control pullets (P = 0.02). Feathers from pullets fed the SBH diet had fewer fault bars than those fed the CaP diet (P = 0.04). The results indicated that the inclusion of soybean hulls (alone or combined with calcium propionate) and a 4/3 feeding schedule can reduce feeding motivation of broiler breeders during early rearing.