The importance of using highly digestible protein in broiler chick diets

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages
© GettyImages

Related tags potato protein Fishmeal maize gluten meal broiler chick

Replacing partial replacement of soybean meal in pre-starter diets with a more digestible protein such as fishmeal, maize gluten meal or potato protein may have performance benefits, argues a researcher.

Emily Burton, associate professor in sustainable food production, Nottingham Trent University (NTU), will be speaking at Young Animal Nutrition 2020 ​(YAN20) in Amsterdam in March.

Burton’s work focuses on understanding interactions between feed materials and gastrointestinal environment in poultry. She looks to develop assessment methods for gastrointestinal response to feed and feed supplements, and how manipulation of raw materials can improve their utilisation by the bird.

The modern broiler reaches slaughter weight at a physiologically younger age so the embryonic period and first week post hatching represent 45% of the life span of the bird, she notes. 

Early feed intake post hatch increases the relative growth of internal organs and early development of the upper sections of gastro-intestinal tract, contributing towards optimal feed digestion and utilisation in older birds. 

Flock uniformity 

“The use of prestarter diets may be an important strategy for achieving flock uniformity, enhancing growth performance and improving liveability at the end of the productive cycle. 

“Early feeding of any diet (even non-nutritional) enhances chick growth by stimulating intestinal motility and development. 

“Optimal particle size for prestarter feed differs from later life but there may not be a long-term effect of feed form,”​ said Burton.

As gastric pH in young birds profoundly changes in the immediate post-hatch period, a targeted, strategic approach to exogenous enzyme development could optimise enzyme use in this period, she added. 

As well as her NTU role, Burton is president of the UK branch of the World’s Poultry Science Association (WPSA) and she represents the UK in the European Working Groups on Nutrition (WG2) and Education and Information (WG11).  

Register here for the FeedNavigator Summit: Young Animal Nutrition 2020 (YAN20)​.

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