Alternative feeding programmes to improve broiler reproduction
Research funded by the U.S. Poultry & Egg
Association evaluated improving reproductive performance of broiler breeder hens
by utilising alternative feeding programmes.
An increase in the reproductive efficiency of broiler breeder hens could be
achieved by obtaining a better understanding of follicular recruitment and
maturation and by developing feed management practices that optimise follicular
development and synchronous ovulatory cycles in these hens.
- To determine if current feed restriction practices for broiler
breeder hens during the laying period are actually compromising reproductive
performance and to develop alternative feeding regimens that enhance
- To investigate the biochemical causes of the polycystic ovary
condition that is associated with anovulatory infertility that can afflict 4-10%
of broiler breeder hens.
According to the research conducted, continuing a skip-a-day feeding
programme until a broiler breeder flock reaches 5% egg production is detrimental
to overall egg production. Broiler breeder hens switched to an everyday feeding
programme after photostimulation produced 17 more eggs per hen through 65 weeks
of age than hens which were maintained on a skip-a-day feeding basis until they
reached 5% egg production. Skip-a-day feeding after photostimulation also
significantly increased the incidence of polycystic ovaries in broiler breeder
Twice a day feeding
In a separate experiment, we determined that hens fed twice a day after
photostimulation produce five more eggs per bird during the first half of the
production period than hens fed once a day. However, cumulative mortality was
greater in the hens fed twice a day compared to those fed once a day.
According to the researchers, gains in the total number of eggs produced
per broiler breeder hen can be achieved through changes in management practices
that allow the broiler breeder hen to better achieve her egg laying
* Research by Adam J. Davis, Ph.D. and Jeanna Wilson, Ph.D., Department
of Poultry Science, University of Georgia Athens, GA
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