Effects of choice feeding and lower ambient temperature on feed intake, growth, foot health, and panting of fast- and slow-growing broiler strains

Sanna Steenfeldt, Poul Sørensen, Birte L Nielsen

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Effects of lowering ambient temperature in the second half of the growth period were studied in 2 broiler strains with different genetic potential for growth (Ross from 1972 and 2004) when given ad libitum access or pre-mixed increasing proportion of whole wheat in their diet. A total of 48 groups of day-old broilers (n = 64) from the 2 strains were housed as hatched in 48 pens in 4 houses and slaughtered at 6 wk of age. Half of the groups had access to pelleted feed pre-mixed with increasing proportion of whole wheat, the other half had access to pelleted feed and whole wheat in separate troughs. Ambient temperature from 28 d of age was either 21 or 15°C. The fast-growing strain had greater (P < 0.001) live weight throughout (mean slaughter weights 2.6 (±0.014) kg and 1.0 (±0.006) kg). When given a choice, the fast-growing strain consumed a lower (P ≤ 0.004) proportion of whole wheat in their diet in weeks 5 and 6 (20 and 26 (±0.9) % whole wheat), and the slow-growing strain chose a higher (P < 0.001) wheat proportion (45 and 56 (±1.7) %) than the pre-mixed inclusion of 25 and 30%, respectively. The slow-growing strain grew slightly faster in the colder ambient temperature, and slower when given a free choice of whole wheat. Both strains drank more water per feed consumed in the warmer ambient temperature treatment. Foot pad dermatitis, only seen in the fast-growing birds, had a higher occurrence in the colder and in the choice feeding treatments. Gait scoring on day 34 showed perfect gait in more than 85% of the slow-growing and less than 1% of the fast-growing birds. Activity was higher and panting levels were lower in the slow-growing strain (P < 0.001) toward the end of the growth period, with no effect of the temperature treatment on panting. Slow-growing strains increase their energy intake, and fast-growing strains increase their protein intake when given a choice.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPoultry Science
Pages (from-to)503-513
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • AGE
  • ambient temperature
  • broiler chicken
  • choice feeding
  • water intake
  • whole wheat
  • Diet/veterinary
  • Species Specificity
  • Male
  • Animal Feed/analysis
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Chickens/growth & development
  • Female
  • Eating
  • Cold Temperature
  • Respiratory Rate
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Random Allocation
  • Energy Intake
  • Animals
  • Hoof and Claw/physiology


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