2024 IPSF: Feed bin fill levels impact broiler performance

Bird performance is affected by feed particle and nutrient segregation
calendar icon 27 March 2024
clock icon 2 minute read

Recent studies have demonstrated that pellets, fines and nutrients can segregate in poultry houses. There is a need to investigate if bird performance is impacted by feed particle and nutrient segregation, said Courtney Poholsky, a graduate student at Pennsylvania State University, during the 2024 International Poultry Scientific Forum.

A field study was conducted to assess feed and nutrient distribution in feed lines over time and examine the relationship among feed bin dynamics, feed and nutrient flow and broiler performance, she said.

Feed (65% pellets: 35% fines) was provided to broilers as part of a standard grow-out. The 152-meter-long commercial house was equipped with two feed lines and two migration fences, creating three distinct locations in the house. Hanging scales were present in each of the three locations to capture bird weights throughout each day. Feed samples were collected at 25, 75 and 125 meters along each feed line, Poholsky said.

Before sampling, designated feed pans were emptied. Then feed was sent through the feed lines to fill the empty pans. Sample collection occurred over five days. Feed samples were sifted using a No. 6 ASTM sieve for pellet-to-fine ratio determination. Amino acids and mineral concentrations of the feed were assessed at commercial laboratories. Feed bin inventory and average bird weights were recorded daily, she noted.

The percentage of pellets varied throughout the house, increasing as feed was removed from the hopper. Daily variations in pellet percentage were also apparent. Bin-fill correlated with pellet percentage, indicating more pellets were in the feed pans as the feed bin emptied, Poholsky explained.

Average concentrations of minerals and amino acids in the house varied day by day with the highest and lowest concentrations observed on days 1 and 5, respectively. Average bird weights correlated with location in the house and pellet percentage, suggesting that birds placed at the end of the house (100-150 meters) consumed more pellets and gained more weight compared to other birds in the house, she said.

Feed bin dynamics contributed to variations in pellet percentage and nutrients, ultimately impacting broiler performance, Poholsky concluded.

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