Studies on including whole grains in broiler diets at the University of Sydney have found that feed conversion rate increases while feed costs go down.

Research by Amy Moss at the university’s Poultry Research Foundation has found that replacing some of ground grains in chicken feed with whole grains not only improves digestion, but also influences how efficiently birds convert feed into meat.

Moss’ studies have found that using whole grain naturally enhances birds’ innate capacity to digest. While pellets may be appetizing to chickens, the pellets break up very easily once ingested, which in turn, provides little stimulation to the gizzard.  This lack of stimulation leads to less gastric stimulation and poorer digestion, ultimately reducing the amount of meat produced per kilo of feed consumed.

The study has found that by replacing about 30 percent of ground grain with whole grains, chickens produced 7.7 percent more meat per kilo of feed eaten, which in turn lowers the cost of feed.

Whole wheat can be added to poultry diets in two ways: after pelleting as a separate entity to the pellet (post-pellet whole grain feeding) or it can be incorporated during pelleting (pre-pellet whole grain feeding). Each method would appear to have its own benefits and drawbacks.

Post-pellet whole grain feeding results in the greatest gizzard response, both in terms of gizzard size and efficiency. However, this method requires an adaptation period, so chickens do not refuse the whole grains and flick them out of the feeder.


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