Feed restriction in the parental stock of meat producing chickens, broiler breeders, is essential in order to decrease the high growth rate that they are genetically selected for. The feed restriction does however lead to chronic hunger and stress. Stress can be measured by counting H/L ratios and the method of manually counting H/L ratios was evaluated. The method was not a good way to ensure reliable individual H/L ratios but still gives an H/L ratio indication on a group level and was therefore still used in the study. Two different feeding regimens were investigated in the study: 5:2 skip-a-day (SKIP) with two fasting days and daily feed restriction (CTRL), with chickens sampled at 9 and 12 weeks of age. There was no significant difference in body mass between the treatments at either age. SKIP chickens had significantly higher H/L ratios compared to CTRL at 12 weeks of age (P=0.020), but both treatments had H/L ratios above the reported limit of stress (0.5). The SKIP group on a feeding day significantly increased plasma glucose levels during the day (10.3 to 11.5 mmol/L, P=0.020) and had significantly higher liver mass and liver glycogen levels compared to the CTRL (P≤0.001). The SKIP group were also less fearful on fasting days and significantly less active than the CTRL (P≤0.050), regardless of age or daily feed differences. The conclusion was that both treatments were stressed but skip-a-day chickens were habituated to their regimen and did not experience worse welfare than daily fed broiler breeders.

Direct Link: http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2:934207

Journal: Thesis

Keywords: Broiler breeder, feed restriction, skip-a-day, stress,

Applications: Veterinary,

CamNtech Reference: M16003

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