Poultry International - February 2018 - 22
22 ❙ PoultryInternational
How to increase broiler feed intake
When birds do not consume enough feed, there are six steps we can take
to entice them to eat more.
Alffoto I Dreamstime
We have been trained to assume modern broilers will
consume the most feed possible when given a diet of
adequate nutritional specifications. Indeed, this might be
the case under ideal conditions, such as those employed
by geneticists to develop modern broilers. And when
the feed is ideally balanced, something experienced
nutritionists can achieve easily, then feed conversion rate
will be optimal - hopefully leading to maximal profitability.
In practice, however, this is not the case as management and facilities are far removed from ideal standards,
and nutritionists cannot or will not create an ideally balanced diet. The reasons are many, and most are justified,
leaving ignorance to be addressed by education. What
remains is to face reality with a toolbox that contains
solutions that will maximize feed intake in broilers
raised under most commercial conditions. As it happens,
each measure will increase cost of production. This,
of course, must be counterbalanced by the improved
growth rate and/or improved feed conversion rate. A
profit and loss balance sheet at the end of each production cycle will provide the best testimony to the efficacy
of any measure taken to increase feed intake.
Anyone who buys complete feeds assumes the diets
are well-balanced according to widely accepted norms.
This can be far from true.
Before we begin exploring this toolbox of feed intake
enhancement methods, a couple disclaimers are in order.
First, we assume that the energy level of the feed will
remain unchanged. We know that by reducing energy
concentration the birds will try to compensate by eating
more. This is an artificial way of increasing feed intake,
only to be employed when energy ingredients are priced
according to a greater plan that accepts worse feed
conversion rates in exchange
for enhanced profitability.
The second point of notice
has to do with temperature
and stocking density. Again,
we assume these two very
important variables remain
unchanged. Otherwise we can
observe increased feed intake
with reduced temperature or
stocking density, and vice versa. Whether we want to adjust
such parameters remains outside the scope of nutrition and feed management.
Pellets and crumbles
It is widely known that birds will consume a greater
amount of nutrients when offered pelleted feeds. This is
because pellets present a more compact form of diet that
requires greater consumption to provide the same gut
fill before satiety signals inform the bird that enough has
been consumed. In addition, pelleted feed is considered
slightly more digestible than feed in meal form. There
are many more benefits, some of which may not justify
the expense of pelleting, but when feed intake must be
maximized, pellets are a must. Crumbles are best reserved for starting chicks as the fines in them partially
offset some of the benefits described above for older
Although strictly a management decision, it has
been observed (not always, however, with the same success) that birds will consume a greater quantity of feed,
www.WATTAgNet.com ❙ February 2018