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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Mississippi State, Mississippi » Poultry Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #375773

Research Project: Enhancing Sustainability and Production Efficiency through Improved Management and Housing Design in Commercial Broilers

Location: Poultry Research

Title: Effects of feeder space on broiler feeding behaviors

item LI, GUOMING - Mississippi State University
item ZHAO, YANG - Mississippi State University
item Purswell, Joseph - Jody
item Magee, Christopher - Chris

Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/14/2021
Publication Date: 1/22/2021
Citation: Li, G., Zhao, Y., Purswell, J.L., Magee, C.L. 2021. Effects of feeder space on broiler feeding behaviors. Poultry Science. 100:101016.

Interpretive Summary: Providing adequate feeder space in broiler production is important to ensure bird performance and well-being. Restricting available floor and feeding area may result in adverse social interactions and downstream product quality through scratches, tears, and other carcass defects. Feeding behaviors were continuously monitored from four to eight weeks of age for four feeder space allocations ranging from 2.3 to 6.9 cm/bird. Daily feeding times and number of visits were similar across all feeder space allocations, and feeder utilization was highest for the lowest space allocation. Variability of feeding behavior was similar among all feeder space allowances. Results of this study can provide insight to feeder utilization and guidance for feeder arrangement to optimize broiler house feeding system design.

Technical Abstract: Providing adequate feeder space in broiler production is important to ensure bird performance and well-being; however, the effect of feeder space on the behavioral responses of broilers remains unclear. The objective of this research was to investigate feeding behaviors of broilers provided with four feeder spaces, i.e. 2.3 cm/bird with one feeder (2.3FSO); and 2.3, 4.6, and 6.9 cm/bird with three feeders (2.3FST, 4.6FST, and 6.9FST, respectively). Sixteen identical pens, each with 45 broilers, were used to accommodate the four feeder space treatments. Feeding behaviors were continuously monitored from week 4 to week 8 using an ultra-high frequency radio frequency identification system. The results show that the daily feeding time and feeder visit for broilers of the 2.3FST treatment were similar as those of the 4.6FST and 6.9FST treatments, but higher than those of the 2.3FSO treatment. The feeders of the 2.3FST treatment were used most efficiently among all treatments as reflected by the highest feeder utilization ratio. Group uniformity of feeding behaviors of individual broilers were similar among all treatments. Feeders among all treatments may not be fully utilized, because for most of the time, less than six birds chose to eat simultaneously at a more-than-five-slot feeder. Given the same feeder allowance, proper feeder arrangement can accommodate more birds to eat simultaneously. The outcomes of this study provide insights into improvement of feeder design and management for broiler production.