Effect of whole wheat feeding in chickens
A study was carried out to investigate the effects of
feeding whole wheat either through a mixed feeding (MF) or free choice feeding
(FCF) system on the performance, digestive tract development and carcass traits
of broiler chickens.
The following three treatments, based on wheat and soybean meal, were
employed: GW, ground-wheat diet with 600-690 g wheat/kg; MF, GW diet with
490-500 g wheat/kg and 100-200 g whole wheat/kg; and FCF, whole wheat and a
protein concentrate offered in separate feeders.
Each diet was fed to six pens of 36 birds each from day 7 to 35 post-hatch.
Over the 7-35-day trial period, no differences (P>0.05) were observed between
the weight gain, feed intake and feed per gain of broilers receiving the GW and
Birds receiving the FCF treatment had the lowest (P<0.05) weight gain
and feed intake, and the highest (P<0.05) feed per gain. During week 1 of the
trial, the protein concentrate was consumed more than the whole wheat (0.69 vs.
0.31) in the FCF treatment, resulting in the amount of concentrate offered being
restricted during subsequent weeks. Over the trial period, the average
consumption of protein concentrate remained high (0.56 of the total intake).
Both whole-wheat treatments increased (P<0.05) the relative gizzard
Factors that affect diet selection such as learning and previous
experience, visual differences between the foods, texture and flavour of the
food, and palatability may explain the lower whole-wheat intake in the FCF
treatment. In this study, whole wheat was introduced only on day 7 and it is
possible that the birds may have to be trained to experience choice feeding from
the first week of life. However, the present results suggest that FCF may not be
an appropriate feeding system for fast growing modern broilers.
* The research was carried out by A.M. Amerah from the Institute of
Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University and V. Ravindran.
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