Better hatching, lower feed cost The research centre trials to evaluate split feeding showed in- creased egg production in birds fed a split-feeding regime compared to a control group. The increase resulted in more total eggs as well as increased chick production. Similar ben- efits were also seen in three concept tests for split-feeding programmes involving 122,600 breeders conducted on the company’s commercial farms between May 2015 and Novem- ber 2018. The commercial farm studies found a 1.9 increase in chicks hatched in flocks fed the split-feeding programme compared with the control group. From an economic perspective, the trials showed that the split-feeding programme resulted in a significantly lower feed cost for hens receiving the split-feeding diet compared to birds receiving the control diet. The trials at SADA also showed that farmers obtained 1.9 more chicks hatched in the flocks fed with split feeding compared with the control flocks, while the feed cost per hatched chick decreased by 9%.

The split-feed- ing approach addresses not only the timing of feeding, but also delivers two distinct diets to feed the right nutrient at the right time.

split-feed approach say that the concept also supports bird productivity, decreases feed costs and delivers improvements associated with a higher level of bird welfare and sustainabili- ty. Studies with broiler breeders conducted at the Trouw Nutrition Poultry Research & Development Center and on five commercial farms validate these claims. A series of research centre studies involving more than 2,800 broiler breeders evaluated the performance parameters of hens fed a conventional broiler-breeder diet compared with hens receiving a split-feeding programme in the morn- ing and afternoon. The diet for birds receiving the split-feed- ing programme was formulated to provide a more accurate supply of nutrients based on broilers’ egg formation needs. The split-feeding dietary strategy also provided less crude protein, apparent metabolizable energy, calcium and digesti- ble phosphorous compared to the control diet. Key findings of the research – which evaluated egg production frequency, time spent eating, bird behaviour and eggshell quality – showed improved productivity, reduced feed costs and positive animal welfare effects.

34 ▶ POULTRY WORLD | No. 1, 2021

Welfare and sustainability The researchers looked at birds’ eating behaviour to see how a twice-a-day diet affected activities such as pecking. Assess- ments found that pecking activity declined among birds fed twice a day compared to the control group. The researchers attributed this effect to increased feelings of satiety in birds receiving a split-feeding diet. As consumer groups continue to show interest in how their food is produced, split feeding can support farm management efforts to optimise humane production practices. The twice-daily feeding system brings birds closer to their voluntary and physiological feeding be- haviour. Eggshell quality – particularly thickness – is another performance measure that is carefully monitored. Other pa- rameters of eggshell quality include weight, breaking strength and SWUSA values. Multiple factors – including the rate of calcium deposition, temperature and time of day – can affect eggshell hardness. Again, researchers saw an improved performance for each of these parameters in hens receiving the split-feeding programme. As interest in environmentally-responsible food production continues to grow, split feeding also supports sustainability on the farm. Because broiler breeders use nutrients more effi- ciently, CO2

emissions are reduced by up to 10% and, by extension, the excretion of nutrients is also reduced.

Economically viable Of course, converting to a split-feeding programme involves an investment in infrastructure on the farm. Two silos are re- quired to house the different diets. However, the cost of this investment is typically recouped in less than a year. Employ- ees will also need training on the feeding programme. Work- ers on broiler breeder farms generally tend to be well trained in livestock production best practices with continuing education an integral part of the system.


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