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Alternative feeding programmes to improve broiler reproduction

Research funded by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association evaluated improving reproductive performance of broiler breeder hens by utilising alternative feeding programmes.

An increase in the reproductive efficiency of broiler breeder hens could be achieved by obtaining a better understanding of follicular recruitment and maturation and by developing feed management practices that optimise follicular development and synchronous ovulatory cycles in these hens.
Research objectives:
- To determine if current feed restriction practices for broiler breeder hens during the laying period are actually compromising reproductive performance and to develop alternative feeding regimens that enhance reproductive efficiency.
- To investigate the biochemical causes of the polycystic ovary condition that is associated with anovulatory infertility that can afflict 4-10% of broiler breeder hens.
Skip-a-day feeding
According to the research conducted, continuing a skip-a-day feeding programme until a broiler breeder flock reaches 5% egg production is detrimental to overall egg production. Broiler breeder hens switched to an everyday feeding programme after photostimulation produced 17 more eggs per hen through 65 weeks of age than hens which were maintained on a skip-a-day feeding basis until they reached 5% egg production. Skip-a-day feeding after photostimulation also significantly increased the incidence of polycystic ovaries in broiler breeder hens.
Twice a day feeding
In a separate experiment, we determined that hens fed twice a day after photostimulation produce five more eggs per bird during the first half of the production period than hens fed once a day. However, cumulative mortality was greater in the hens fed twice a day compared to those fed once a day.
According to the researchers, gains in the total number of eggs produced per broiler breeder hen can be achieved through changes in management practices that allow the broiler breeder hen to better achieve her egg laying potential.
* Research by Adam J. Davis, Ph.D. and Jeanna Wilson, Ph.D., Department of Poultry Science, University of Georgia Athens, GA
 
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