PoultryUSA - November 2017 - 18
18 ❙ WATTPoultryUSA
Micronutrients, because of differences in feed intake, also have
a negative effect on feathering; therefore, uniformity of feeding
is important. Uniformity is especially important in early development because that's when the most important set of feathers
are made, Wilson suggested. "There are lots of variation in the
studies out there regarding low-protein diets," she said.
Recent studies with broiler breeders indicated that
low protein levels in pullet diets can cause poor feather
cover, however, it does not always cause feathering issues.
Other studies show that high-energy diets in laying caused
poorer feather cover when compared with standard-energy
diets. Hens got less feed volume, took less time to eat and
spent more time sitting, Wilson explained.
Poor ingredient quality may also add to feathering issues,
she added. Not only do poor feed ingredients lead to problems with picking, but it can also have a negative impact on
the quality of feathers, causing them to be brittle and break.
Crowding of a facility, low brooding temps and shifts
in temperature can all influence feathering as well.
"We have to have a more uniform flock to maintain laying," said Wilson. Uniformity is making sure all pullets have
the same availability to feed. "We can't change what houses
look like due to expense so we have to dictate feed availability,"
she said. Poor uniformity results in poor production, she added.
Chickens are creatures of habit, she explained. To maintain
Fertility of 64-week-old broiler breeder
hens with varying feather cover
Source: Aranibar, Owen and Wilson, 2016
BROILER BREEDER FEATHERING
Days after caging
Hens at 64 weeks of age with full feather cover are
more fertile than hens with moderate feather loss
and most of their back and sides totally bare.
the hormonal balance in laying birds, producers need to make
sure they do not create an excessive anticipation of feed.
Today, we are seeing some negative effects of feed restriction and feed restriction programs that were not obvious 10 years ago, Wilson said.
"In general, poor flock uniformity results in lower egg
production," she said. If producers overfeed the birds, then
they must pull back on feed allowance to prevent laying
birds from getting too big.
If producers withhold feed from the layers to decrease
weight, they might hurt the overall uniformity of the house.
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www.WATTAgNet.com ❙ November 2017