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Effect of early nutrient restriction on broiler chickens. 1. Performance and development of the gastrointestinal tract

Palo, P.E., Sell, J.L., Piquer, F.J., Soto-Salanova, M.F., Vilaseca, L.
Poultry science 1995 v.74 no.1 pp. 88-101
broiler chickens, restricted feeding, poultry feeding, body weight, feed conversion, liveweight gain, feed intake, carcass composition, breast muscle, digestive tract, weight, liver, DNA, RNA, protein content, abdominal fat
An experiment was conducted to determine the effects of early nutrient restriction on performance and development of the gastrointestinal tract of broiler chickens. Four hundred male broiler (Ross X Ross) chicks raised in floor pens were assigned to two treatment groups. One group was given ad libitum access to feed from 1 to 48 d of age. The second group was feed restricted from 7 to 14 d of age to an energy intake of 1.5 X BW(.67) kcal ME/d and then given ad libitum access to feed from 14 to 48 d. Body weight and feed intake were determined weekly. At 49 d of age, birds were processed for carcass yield, abdominal fat pad measurement, and body composition analysis. Broilers were also sampled at 7, 14, 21, and 41 d of age for proventriculus, gizzard, small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, and ileum), pancreas, and liver weights and for intestinal length measurements. Total DNA, protein:DNA, and RNA:DNA ratios of livers and jejuna were determined as indexes of changes in cell size and number. Feed-restricted broilers failed to catch up to the Control birds in BW at 48 d of age but were superior (P < .01) in overall feed efficiency. No treatment effects were observed on breast meat yields or abdominal fat. Moreover, percentage carcass fat, crude protein, ash, and dry matter were not affected by restricted feeding. Body weight and weights of gastrointestinal organs were reduced (P < .01) by feed restriction at 14 d of age. Restricted feeding, however, did not decrease the relative weights of organs, except for liver. Feed restriction also resulted in a reduction (P < .01) of liver cell number and size and a decrease in jejunum cell number. All organs recovered normal weight on refeeding, and all cellular constituent ratios (e.g., RNA:DNA, RNA:protein, and protein:DNA) returned to normal by 41 d of age. Absolute and relative weights of supply organs (e.g., proventriculus, gizzard, small intestine, liver, and pancreas) were less affected by feed restriction and responded more quickly to refeeding than the whole body.