Effects of Sequential Feeding on Nitrogen Excretion, Productivity and Meat Quality of Broilers

Sequential feeding of nitrogen – by feeding a low-protein diet – impacted environmental and welfare measures but had negative effects on feed efficiency and some meat traits, according to new research from Italy.
calendar icon 27 February 2012
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The effects of a 24-hour cycle sequential feeding programme on nitrogen excretion, incidence of foot pad lesions, productive performance, quality traits, and chemical composition of broiler chicken breast meat, have been investigated by Federico Sirri and Professor Adele Meluzzi of the University of Bologna, Italy, and reported in a paper published recently in Poultry Science.

In total, 1,320 day–old male Cobb 700 chicks were split into two groups, each comprising six replicates. From one to 10 days of age, all of the chickens received the same pre–starter diet (ME 3,058kcal per kg; CP 226g per kg).

The control group (CON) received one of three diets for 24-hour cycles: starter (ME 3,162 kcal per kg; CP 205g per kg), grower (ME 3,224kcal per kg; CP 192g per kg) and finisher diets (ME 3,242kcal per kg; CP 184g per kg) from days 11 to 18, 19 to 38, and 39 to 44 of age, respectively.

The sequential feeding group (SF) received the same diets as the CON birds for half of the day, and then low-protein and isoenergetic diets for the remaining half of the day.

The researchers found that the birds allocated to the SF programme showed better utilisation of dietary nitrogen than the CON birds (45.0 versus 46.1 per cent of N excreted/N ingested, respectively; P<0.05). Consequently, the SF birds had lower nitrogen excretion than the CON birds (24.8 versus 25.9g of N per kg bodyweight, respectively; P<0.01).

The SF birds exhibited a significantly lower incidence (seven versus 13 per cent) of foot pad lesions and consumed 70g of feed per bird more than the CON birds.

The SF birds also had a significantly higher feed conversion rate than the CON birds (1.84 versus 1.78, respectively).

The SF breast meat exhibited a significantly lower ultimate pH, a higher cook loss and a lower lipid content compared with the values found for the CON group.

Sirri and Meluzzi concluded from their results that the SF approach in poultry husbandry had positive repercussions on environmental and animal welfare aspects, but adversely affected feed efficiency, and altered some meat traits (mainly pH and cook loss).


Sirri F. and A. Meluzzi. 2012. Effect of sequential feeding on nitrogen excretion, productivity, and meat quality of broiler chickens. Poult. Sci. 91(2):316-321. doi: 10.3382/ps.2011-01649

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February 2012
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