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Chickens perform well with glycerol feed

Northern Ireland scientists have developed a new type of "high energy" chicken feed that uses glycerol, the by-product of biodiesel production.

A PhD programme, funded by the Home Grown Cereals Authority, has recently been initiated at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Northern Ireland to investigate the use of glycerol in diets for broilers.

Elizabeth McCann (AFBI) and Linda Griffith (QUB) formulated diets containing 0%, 3.3%, 6.7% and 10% glycerol as a partial replacement for wheat and were offered to broilers from 7-28 days of age.

Birds were weighed weekly and excreta were collected to determine apparent metabolisable energy (AME).

On completion of the trial a section of breast tissue was removed from each bird to determine drip loss measurements as an indication of meat quality.

AME increased linearly with increasing glycerol inclusion. However, glycerol inclusion did not affect body weight, live weight gain and feed intake.

Similarly the level of glycerol inclusion did not significantly affect any growth parameters and drip loss measurements (see Table).

FCR was improved with increasing glycerol inclusion and 6.7% glycerol inclusion resulted in the most efficient feed conversion.


Apparent metabolisable energy increased linearly with increasing inclusion of glycerol, which was reflected in an improvement in FCR.

Glycerol inclusion and level did not significantly effect body weight, live weight gain, feed intake and drip loss measurements.


Glycerol inclusion (%) 0 3.3  6.7    10
AME (MJ/kg)   14.2  14.7 15.0  15.2
Live weight gain (g)  1,332  1,395  1,423  1,390
DM intake (g)  1,723  1,668  1,642  1,658
FCR  1.30  1.20  1.16  1.19
Drip loss (%)  1.21  1.10  1.13  0.96


Natalie Berkhout

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