Physical and chemical effects of pelleting feed on broiler growth and behavioral parameters

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Barred Rock chickens were offered diets that had been pelleted at 55° or 85°C. In an 8-week feeding trial, the subjects receiving pellets processed at the higher temperature experienced significant (P ≤ .05) weight gain over those receiving the diet processed at 55°C. Although feed consumption for this treatment increased as well, the difference was not significant (P ≤ .05). Chemical investigation revealed that metabolizable energy and bioavailability of lysine of both heat treatments were similar. Starch availability as measured by in vitro enzyme susceptibility, however, was lowered by increased heat application.

In a second experiment, the feeding behavior of 12-16 week old cockerels offered diets of varying particle size, resulted in significant (P ≤ .05) increases in feed consumption rate and therefore decreases in total feeding activity for birds offered pellets and crumbles as compared to mash and reground pellets. No differences were noted in meal size, meal frequency, interval between meals, or total consumption.

In a parallel experiment, no differences were noted in the behavioral parameters of birds receiving diets pelleted at 55, 70, or 85°C of similar density and particle size. Mash controls, however, experienced significantly (P ≤ .05) decreased consumption rate and concurrent increase in feeding activity.

The beneficial effects experienced with pelleting can therefore be attributed to the reduction in total feeding activity that allows an increased proportion of net energy to be utilized in support of growth.