Quantitative Feed Restriction On Broiler Chickens; Effect On The Growth Performance And Carcass Characteristics

The Research on; Quantitative Feed Restriction On Broiler Chickens; Effect On The Growth Performance And Carcass Characteristics was carried out by NWABUZOR CHUKWUEMEKA.


Name of project Topic researcher: NWABUZOR CHUKWUEMEKA
Email Address: agriculturediary@gmail.com
Phone Number: (+234) 08032934651, (+234) 08054094792
Research location: Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State. Nigeria
Call and email me for full copy of the work.



A total of 96 day old obamashal broiler chicks were used in a 56 day study to determine the effect of quantitative feed restriction on the growth rate and carcass traits of broiler chickens. The birds were allocated to four treatments (T1, T2, T3 and T4) and three replicates at 8 birds per replicate. Birds in treatments 2, 3 and 4 were restricted from feeding for 4hours, 6hours and 8hours respectively daily. T1 served as the control and were fed ad libitum. Parameters evaluated include; weight gain, feed intake, feed conversion ratio, and carcass traits of the broiler chickens. Results obtained from the broiler chickens show no significant difference (p>0.05) in carcass traits except on the gizzard, liver and proventiculus which differ significantly at p<0.01. There were also no significant difference(p>0.05) in the weight gain, feed intake and feed conversion ratio among the experimental treatments. Results of the experiment indicated that feed restriction at these duration has no adverse effect on the performance of the birds.


Intensive selection for high growth rate has provided the broiler industry with flocks that reach target weight for slaughter in shorter time periods. However, some undesirable selection responses correlated with rapid growth have occurred (Benyi et al., 2010). Fast growth rate has been associated with greater susceptibility to metabolic disorders such as ascites and sudden death syndrome, and a high incidence of skeletal problems (Yu and Robinson, 1992; Garner et al., 2002; Scott, 2002). Broiler chicken are given free choice feeding, therefore, they tend to consume energy in excess of their maintenance and production requirements and deposit this excess as fat (Summers and Spratt, 2000; Cuddington, 2004). Fat is an uneconomical and undesirable product that not only increases the occurrence of metabolic diseases and skeletal deformities, but also causes problems in feed efficiency, difficulties in meat processing, and rejection of meat by consumers for health reasons (Urdenta-Rincon and Leeson, 2002). Consumer preferences for leaner meat have increased over the last two decades due to the corollary between human consumption of certain fats and cardiovascular disease. This has stimulated interest in reducing abdominal-fat deposition in broiler chickens and trend towards leaner carcasses (Cabel and Waldroup, 1990). It also sparked the interest in research on feed restriction and the concept of compensatory growth to correct metabolic problems and meet consumer demands for leaner carcasses (Zubair and Leeson, 1994).

Feed restriction, whether qualitative or quantitative, is denying birds a full access to nutrients that are required for their normal growth and development (Khetaniet al.,2009). Early feed restriction is practiced in broilers to induce compensatory growth, improve efficiency of feed utilization, and lower maintenance requirements in thegrower and finisher phases (Teimouriet al., 2005). This will ultimately lead to reduction in feed and production costs, thereby, producing a lean quality meat at cheaperprices (Zubair and Leeson, 1996; Navidshadet al., 2006; Mahmud et al., 2008).Therefore, the aim of this research was to determine the effect of quantitative on growth performance, carcass traits and organ size atthe end of the growing period.

The dramatic improvements in growth rate, feed efficiency and meat yield of broiler chickens over the last few decades are primarily the result of genetic selection and improved nutrition (Zubair and Leeson, 1996). Unfortunately, along with these improvements have come unintended detrimental correlated responses. Examples of such include;increase in appetite and excessive feed intake, if broiler chickens are given free access to feed (Richards et al., 2003). The energy intake in excess of the requirements for maintenance and production is converted into fat (Summers et al., 1990), an uneconomical and undesirable product which not only causes increase in thefrequency of metabolic diseases in growing birds, but also reduces carcass yield and feed efficiency, cause difficulties in processing (Garner et al., 2002; Scott, 2002) andhas an adverse effect on human health. Several quantitative and qualitative restricted-feeding programmes have therefore been employed in attempts to restrict feed intake of broilers in order to reduce feeding cost and fat deposition, improve feed efficiency,lessen the frequency of occurrence of metabolic diseases in the birds and reduce the unfavourable effects of fat on human health (Tolkampet al., 2005; Zhan et al., 2007).

Feed restriction has been reported to reduce early growth, fat deposition and mortality rate and reduce the frequency of occurrence of these health problems (Navidshadet al., 2006; Mahmud et al., 2008). Recent reports on feed restriction have been conflicting and have depended on factors such as the severity, timing and duration of restriction (Navidshadet al., 2006; Khajalietal., 2007). Benyi and Habi (1998) reported that reducing feeding time by 2 days a week reduced growth rate and final body weight but resulted in similar feed efficiency as in those fed ad libitum, those whose feed intake was quantitatively reduced by 15%, but better than those whose feed was reduced by 30%. Reports on the effects of skip-a-day feed removal on broiler performance have generally indicated a reduced feed intake, weight gain and lower market weight but contradict one another on effects on feed efficiency, mortality rate and abdominal fat deposition (Navidshadetal., 2006; Khajaliet al. 2007; Benyiet al., 2011; Ghazanfariet al., 2010).


3.1 Experimental Site

The experiment was conducted at the Teaching and Research Farm of Department of Animal Science, CAS campus, Ebonyi State University, Abakailiki, Ebonyi State, which lies within the latitude 7°30E and 8°30E and longitude 5°40N and 6°45N, (Nwakpu, 2008).

3.2 Experimental Diet:

The birds were fed with a commercial feed (Top feed) which contain the necessary nutrient requirements to the benefit of the birds approved by National Research Council (1994).

3.3 Experimental Animal and Management

The experiment was conducted using Completely Randomized Design (CRD) and the birds were allocated to four treatments and replicated three times. The T1 was the control and was fed ad libitum. T2 was restricted from feeding for 4 hours in 24 hours, T3 was also restricted for 6 hours, while T4 was 8 hours. The experiment lasted for 56 days (8 weeks). Only water was provided ad libitum. Proper routine poultry management was maintained.

3.4 Parameter Measured

The following parameters were measured in the experiment-

  • Feed Intake: known quantity of feed were weighed out and offered to the birds daily and the left over were weighed and recorded. The feed intake was determined by obtaining the difference between the quantity of feed offered and the left over in the following morning
  • Body Weight Gain: Birds in each replicate per treatment groups were weighed at the beginning of the experiment to obtain their initial body weight and subsequently weighed on weekly basis. The body weight gain was obtained by subtracting the initial body weight from the final body weight. The daily weight gain was determined by dividing the total body weight gain by the number of the days the experiment lasted.

Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR): This was computed by dividing the daily feed intake by daily weight gain.


FCR = feed intake (g)

           Body weight gain (g)


Carcass characteristics

At the end of the feeding trial, three birds were selected from each treatment for carcass and organ weight evaluation. The birds were starved for 12hours,weighed, slaughtered and dressed. Dressed weight, cut-off parts and organs weight were recorded. The weights of the cut-off parts and the organs were expressed as a percentage of the dressed weight.

3.5  STATISTICAL MODEL                  

Data analysis: Data collected were subjected to one way analysis of variance (ANOVA) according to Okporie (2006). Significant means were separated using Fishers Least Significant Difference (F-LSD) as outlined by Obi (2002).

Xij= µ + Ti + Σij


Xij = Any Observation

µ = Population Mean

Ti = Treatment Effect

Σij = Experimental Error

i = Number of Treatment

j = Number of Replication



The results of the effect of quantitative feed restriction on the growth rate of broiler birds presented in table 1 shows no significant differences (p>0.05) on the initial body weight, final body weight, daily feed intake, total feed intake,daily body weight gain and feed conversion ratio.


Table 1: Performance of broiler birds exposed to quantitative feed restriction.


Parameters                       T1         T2            T3            T4        SEM

Initial body weight            113.92     116.38    117.54        116.04       5.49

Final body weight gain     1981.56   2022.19   2098.49   1931.05   98.36

Daily feed intake                  89.86     90.21     83.75          106.24      7.66

Total feed intake                  4942        4961     4606         5843           1501.6

Daily body weight gain       35.96      33.31      36.02       33.00          1.80

Feed conversion ratio         2.66       2.72            2.49           3.21       0.20


This was due to the rapid catch up growth rate of the birds in treatments two, three and four during the period of realimentation.

The results of the effect of quantitative feed restriction on broiler birds are presented in table 2 show no significant differences (p>0.05) in the breast weight, neck, thigh, spleen, drumstick, shank and back-cut. There were significant differences (p<0.05) in the liver weight, gizzard and proventiculus.


Table 2: carcass traits of broiler birds exposed to quantitative feed restriction

PARAMETERS                               T1            T2        T3       T4          SEM 

BACK                                                     16.01     16.29     16.98     16.89     0.51

BREAST                                               19.58     19.57     19.14     21.88        1.12

SPLEEN                                               0.07        0.05       0.06       0.05      0.01

HEART                                                0.47         0.45       0.32       0.36      0.06

WING                                                  8.99          8.80       9.95       8.66     0.15

ABDOMINAL FAT                           3.08         3.55       2.29         2.10     0.50

GIZZARD                                            1.29a        1.22ab    0.92b          1.07a     0.05

SHANK                                               4.82          3.75        3.85        3.31     0.34

DRUM STICK                                   11.3            11.17       11.85      11.01    0.43

THIGH                                               13.58         11.63       12.67     12.03    0.65

NECK                                                  7.34            8.72         7.41       8.14     0.53

HEAD                                                  2.76            2.73         2.76       2.32     0.09

LIVER                                                2.63             2.31          2.13       2.93       0.17

PROVENTICULUS                         0.35a             0.38a           0.47b       0.51c     0.03

a,b and c means on the same row with different superscripts are significantly difference (p<0.05)


5.1       Growth rate

The results in this study, show no significant differences (P>0.05) in the initial body weight, total feed intake and daily body weight gain. This was in agreement with the results of Ballay et al., (1992) who observed no significant difference in those parameters. Zubair and Leeson (1994), Palo et al., (1995); Camacho et al.,(2004) recorded that there were no difference in the final body weight gain and feed conversion ratio of the restricted birds, when compared to that of the control group. Also, the feed intake of the restricted birds (T4) was higher than that of the ad-libitum fed broilers (T1). It has been known that feed restricted birds consumed more feed in their attempt to compensate for the time they would have been deprived of feed. This was in agreement with the results of Khetani et al., 2009, who observed increased total feed intake by feed restricted birds when compared to the control group.

5.2       Carcass traits

The weight of abdominal fat pad of restricted broilers was lower than that of ad libitum broilers, but not statistically significant. There is also a decreased trend in fat deposition, in agreement with Jones and Farrell, 1992; Nielsen et al., 2003, whereas others cited opposite results (Lippens et al., 2000; Salehet al., 2005; Zhan et al., 2007; Onbasilar et al., 2009; Lanhui et al., 2011).

The discrepancies may be due to the metabolic programming, whereby, malnutrition leads to adult life obesity. The metabolic programming is induced by nutritional experience during the critical period in development with consequences during adulthood (Platel and Srinivasan, 2002). The fact that there was no significant reduction in abdominal fat deposition in T2, T3 and T4 birds in this experiment suggests that even feed-restricted-broilers are still overeating and that level of feed intake may control de novo lipogenesis (Rosebrough and McMurty, 1993).

The breast weight, neck, thigh, spleen, drumstick, shank and back-cut, did not differ statistically among the treatments. This was in agreement with the results of Salehetal..,2005 and Onbasilaret al..,2009, who found differences among them.

There were significant differences (p<0.01) in the liver weight, gizzard and proventiculus. This was in agreement with Salehet al..,2005. The proventiculus increases gradually as the duration of restriction increases.

The heart weight also shows no significant difference when compared to the control group. The result contradicts with that of McGovern et al.,(1999), who concluded that heart weight was significantly higher in feed restricted broilers.

These contrasts in results may be attributed to the feed restriction programmes applied and slaughtering age of birds.

Also in this study, the important disease common to birds, fed ad libitum (ascites), which the body cavity accumulates serous fluids, leading to carcass condemnation or death; a consequence of cardio-pulmunary insufficiency in rapidly growing broiler chickens, was reduced to minimum among the feed restricted birds (T3 and T2), but were rampant among the unrestricted birds (T1). This was in agreement with the findings of Julian et al..,2000.

The T1 group developed leg disorders which resulted to lameness (inability to walk). This was in agreement with Balog, 2003.

Also, mortality amongst the feed restricted groups was drastically reduced but was high in T1 due to rapid growth rate in modern broiler chickens. This was in agreement with Bowes et al..,1998 and George, 2007. But in most experiments, no significant difference was observed between the control and restricted groups (Scheideler and Baughman, 1993;Deaton, 1995).



The results of this experiment showed that feed restriction in broiler production helps to provide a quality meat in poultry industry by reducing the abdominal fat pad, thereby making it safer for consumption.

There was also no adverse effect on the carcass composition, therefore farmers can apply the feed restriction programme in order to provide a better without much stress to the birds.




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  1. good day

    thanks for the information I really appreciate it and would like to pose further question in the quest to be a successful poultry farmer.

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