The embryonic and immediate post-hatch developmental period represents a significant phase in attaining quality broiler performance at marketing. An efficient transition period from late term embryo to a viable independent chick is necessary to achieve such results. Immediately, post-hatch birds must undergo a shift from egg and embryonic nutrients to exogenous feed. Under practical conditions, many birds have access to feed only 36 to 48 hours after hatching, and during this time body weight decreases, and intestine and muscle development are retarded. In order to overcome these limitations, a continuous feeding process can be established which would supply nutrients to the developing embryo, feed and water to the newly hatched chick within the hatchery, and a highly digestible pre-starter diet at placement. In ovo feeding stimulates intestinal development by enhancing villi, increasing intestinal capacity to digest and absorb nutrients and provides a basis for muscle growth. Immediate access to feed (1 hour after clearing the shell) initiates uptake and growth processes some 24 hours post-ingestion compared to poultry with delayed feed intake. The enhanced growth caused by early feeding improves nutritional maturity of the bird, stimulates yolk utilisation, increases intestinal development, and has long term metabolic effects. Providing highly digestible ingredients in the pre-starter diet increases body weight performance at day seven, and through to marketing. Together, these processes provide appropriate nutrition pre-and post-hatch which can accelerate gastrointestinal development, muscle growth and therefore result in increased performance. This paper will summarise studies dealing with the different approaches to early nutritional strategies in our modern, fast growing broiler.
- early feeding
- in ovo feeding