22 May 1998

Restrict intake for bird health

RESTRICTING broiler feeding to 16 hours a day rather than ad lib improves liveability and cuts cardiac and respiratory concerns.

Research at ADAS Gleadthorpe compared ad-lib feeding and systems where chickens had access to feed eight and 16 hours each day between five and 37 days old.

Poultry research consultant Andrew Walker said that where birds had access to feed for 16 hours a day they ate less overall, but achieved the same liveweight as those on the ad-lib system.

"Where chickens were fed for 16 hours a day, feed conversion ratio and margin of liveweight value less feed costs were improved compared with those on the ad-lib system. Reduced wastage and less over-consumption helped."

Margins were also boosted as mortality fell by as much as 50% under restricted feeding. "For instance, in male birds, mortality on ad-lib feeding was 7%, but that fell to 3.5% where birds had access to feed for only 16 hours." He said the technique would be feasible on units with automatic feeding systems.