Institute of Organic Farming
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Effect of the structure (milled or pelleted) of feed offered in addition to germinated wheat on feed intake and performance of broilers
Pelleting chicken feed reduces feed losses and improves feed intake, but causes additional expenses. When germinated wheat is fed to broilers in addition to a pelleted or milled feed mixture, it is unclear if the structure of the feed affects feed intake and animal performance.
The main advantage of pelleting feed is the fact that each single pellet contains the desired mixture of components and nutrients, whereas milled feed allows the animals to select the most desired components and avoid the less desired ones. Also, it has been shown that feed intake of broilers is higher when feed is pelleted instead of milled. For organically fed broilers, a high feed intake ensures that the animals nutrient demands are met, even when the proportion of imported, high-quality feed is minimise. However, because of the additional costs of pelleting, most farmers use milled feed. If germinated wheat is fed, it is usually mixed with milled feed directly before feeding. The aim of the project is to determine, if the structure of a feed mixture offered in addition to germinated wheat influences feed intake and performance of broilers.
Four different feeding varieties are tested on a total of 320 broilers, divided into 8 groups and two fattening periods: Milled feed, pelleted feed, milled feed with additional germinated wheat, pelleted feed with additional germinated wheat. After a 4-week rearing phase, the broilers are divided into the experimental groups and thereafter housed in mobile barns with access to pasture. Throughout the experiment, feed intake and weight development of the broilers are documented, and after slaughter, parameters of slaughter performance are collected.
No interaction between feed structure and offering germinated wheat was found, therefore the two effects are interpreted separately. Feed structure influenced neither fattening nor slaughter performance of the broilers. However, considerably less feed was needed for the same performance when feed was pelleted. Therefore, pelleted feed should be preferred for the sake of efficiency, as long as the benefits of efficiency outweigh the cost of pelleting. The offered germinated wheat was eagerly consumed, but replaced an average of 23 % (dry matter basis) of the usual feed mixture. This lead to a “dilution” of the total diet and resulted in impaired fattening and slaughter performance. Therefore, we recommend adjusting the accompanying feed to the offer of germinated wheat to ensure a balanced diet.
4.2016 - 12.2016
Project status: finished