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Effects of dietary protein levels during rearing on behaviour and feather cover in broilers

R. A. van Emous, R. Kwakkel, M. van Krimpen, W. Hendriks

OVER the past few decades, broiler chickens have been selected for faster growth and feed efficiency to meet the high demand for these animals. Modern broilers show four times higher daily growth compared to 60 years ago, but researchers have found negative effects on production and feather cover in broilers when they were provided feed ad libitum. This study investigated the effects of different dietary protein levels during the rearing period on behaviour and feather cover in broiler breeder females.

Between weeks 2 and 22 of rearing, 2880 14-day-old broiler breeder pullets were assigned to either a high or low crude protein dietary group. A four phase feeding system in operation of the unit, comprised of ad libitum diet fed from weeks 0 to 2, a second diet fed from weeks 2 to 6, a grower diet fed from weeks 6 to 15, and a pre-breeder diet fed from weeks 15 to 22. Within each phase, diets were formulated to be isocaloric, and digestible amino acids were lowered by 16 per cent …

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