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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Mississippi State, Mississippi » Poultry Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #378391

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

Location: Poultry Research

Title: Effect of feeder space on live performance and processing yields of broiler chickens reared to 56 days of age

Author
item Purswell, Joseph
item Olanrewaju, Hammed
item ZHAO, Y - University Of Tennessee

Submitted to: Journal of Applied Poultry Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/5/2021
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Feeder space recommendations for broilers are rarely updated and have targeted market weights below 2.5 kg. However, the majority of domestic US broilers produce have body weights in excess of 3 kg. This study examined live performance and yield in broilers reared to 56 d as influenced by provision of three feeder space allocations: 2.3 (1X), 4.6 (2X), and 6.9 (3X) cm/bird. Body weight was significantly improved during the starter and grower phases as feeder space increased. Gain and feed consumption likewise improved in the starter phase. Effects on live performance diminished in the finisher and withdrawal phases, however overall feed conversion was significantly lower for 2.3 cm/bird when compared to 4.6 cm/bird. No significant differences were observed for carcass weight or yield, however abdominal fat weights and yield were reduced for 4.6 cm/bird as compared to 2.3 cm/bird. The data illustrates that feeder space allowance affects broiler performance, particularly in early life. Expanded feeder space allowance during early life allows broilers maximize productivity during this period, yet these effects appear to diminish in regards to body weight as birds age and may be detrimental to overall FCR.

Technical Abstract: While the effects of stocking density on broiler welfare and performance have been extensively and regularly studied as genetics and production models have evolved, feeder space recommendations has received less attention. Most feeder space data for broilers dates from the 1950’s and 1960’s, with relatively few assessments since, targeting market weights below 2.5 kg. This study examined live performance and yield in broilers reared to 56 d as influenced by provision of three feeder space allocations: 2.3 (nominal), 4.6, and 6.9 cm/bird. BW was significantly improved during the starter and grower phases as feeder space increased (P < 0.0001 and P = 0.0066, respectively); BWG and feed consumption likewise improved in the starter phase (P < 0.0001 and P = 0.0002, respectively). Effects on live performance diminished in the finisher and withdrawal phases, however overall FCR was significantly lower for 2.3 cm/bird when compared to 4.6 cm/bird (0.03 f:g, P = 0.0198). No significant differences were observed for carcass weight or yield, however abdominal fat weights and yield were reduced for 4.6 cm/bird as compared to 2.3 cm/bird (P = 0.012 and P = 0.016, respectively). The data herein illustrates that feeder space allowance affects broiler performance, particularly in early life. Expanded feeder space allowance during early life allows broilers maximize productivity during this period, yet these effects appear to diminish in regards to BW and may be detrimental to overall FCR. Further research is warranted to ascertain optimal expanded feeding space and duration during early life in commercial broilers.