BackgroundBroiler breeder feed management is an important welfare and economic issue for the poultry industry. In order to limit problems such as obesity, lameness and ascites, and maintain adequate reproductive capabilities, broiler breeders are feed restricted throughout their production, most severely during the rearing phase, and often exhibit signs of chronic hunger. In Canada, most producers restrict breeders with the use of a non-daily feeding schedule, a practice that is banned in some countries because of its purported insult to welfare. There has been little empirical data on the welfare implications of such practices, and none in terms of production data in commercial conditions. This project investigates the use of non-daily feeding schedules for female broiler breeders (who comprise up to 90% of the breeding flock) during rearing, in conjunction with promising alternative diets incorporating fibrous bulking agents and appetite suppressants. The effects of these feeding strategies on growth, behaviour, stress physiology, egg production and hatchability, gastrointestinal morphology, and Salmonella colonization will be studied in experimental and simulated commercial conditions to make science-based recommendations to the poultry industry.
Funding$446,783 (CPRC $100,000, NSERC $154,807, PIC $35,000, CHEP $20,000, OMAF $136,976)
Status report coming soon