Effect of whole wheat feeding in birds
A study was carried out to investigate the effects of feeding whole wheat
either through a mixed feeding (MF) or free choice feeding (FCF) system on the
performance, digestive tract development and carcass traits of broiler chickens.
The following three treatments, based on wheat and
soybean meal, were employed: GW, ground-wheat diet with
600–690 g wheat/kg; MF, GW diet with 490–500 g wheat/kg and
100–200 g whole wheat/kg; and FCF, whole wheat and a protein concentrate
offered in separate feeders.
Each diet was fed to six pens of 36 birds
each from day 7 to 35 post-hatch. Over the 7–35-day trial period, no differences
(P>0.05) were observed between the weight gain, feed intake and feed per gain
of broilers receiving the GW and MF treatments. Results
receiving the FCF treatment had the lowest (P<0.05) weight gain and feed
intake, and the highest (P<0.05) feed per gain. During week 1 of the trial,
the protein concentrate was consumed more than the whole wheat (0.69 vs.
0.31) in the FCF treatment, resulting in the amount of concentrate offered being
restricted during subsequent weeks. Over the trial period, the average
consumption of protein concentrate remained high (0.56 of the total intake).
Both whole-wheat treatments increased (P<0.05) the relative gizzard weights.
Factors that affect diet selection such as learning and previous
experience, visual differences between the foods, texture and flavour of the
food, and palatability may explain the lower whole-wheat intake in the FCF
treatment. In this study, whole wheat was introduced only on day 7 and it is
possible that the birds may have to be trained to experience choice feeding from
the first week of life. However, the present results suggest that FCF may not be
an appropriate feeding system for fast growing modern broilers. The research
was carried out by A.M. Amerah from the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human
Health, Massey University and V. Ravindran.
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