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Assessment of hunger in growing broiler breeders in relation to a commercial restricted feeding programme

By C. J. Savory, K. Maros, S. M. Rutter

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From 2 weeks old female broiler breeder chickens were restricted-fed on a commercial diet (R), twice that amount (2R), or ad libitum (AL). Motivation to eat in R and 2R birds was compared every third week with that of AL birds subjected to 3 to 72-h feed deprivation. AL and 2R birds grew 3 and 2 times faster than R birds to 20 weeks, and AL birds are 2 to 4 times as much per day as R birds, depending on age and on whether birds of the same age or weight were compared. When feeding motivation was measured in 16-min tests with an operant procedure, numbers of responses by R and 2R birds were not related in a consistent way to the time since their daily meal ended. Responses by AL birds were correlated consistently with the preceding period of feed deprivation, but it was not possible to express hunger in R and 2R birds in terms of equivalent deprivation in AL birds, as intended, because feeding motivation in the 2 situations differed in magnitude. Instead, it was calculated that motivation to eat in R and 2R birds, from 8 to 20 weeks, was 3.6 and 1.9 times greater than that of maximally (72-h) deprived AL birds. Another measure of feeding motivation with different birds, rate of eating in 10-min tests, produced a similar index of hunger with 2R but not R birds. It is concluded that broiler breeders fed on the commercial diet ate only a quarter to a half as much as they would with free access to food, and that they were highly motivated to eat at all times. The modern broiler breeder industry is caught in a welfare dilemma, since stock appear to be chronically hungary, but less severe feed restriction leads to reduced fertility and health problems.

Date 1993
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 2
Issue 2
Pages 131-152
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address AFRC Roslin Institute (Edingburgh), Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9PS, UK.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal nutrition
  3. Animal physiology
  4. Appetite
  5. Birds
  6. Chickens
  7. Feeding behavior
  8. Fowls
  9. peer-reviewed
  10. Poultry
  11. restricted feeding
  1. peer-reviewed