Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Animal Science, Under the Supervision of Professor Sheila E. Purdum. Lincoln, Nebraska: June, 2011

Copyright 2011 Rashed Abdullah Alhotan


Newly hatched chicks may experience long periods of fasting prior to placement in commercial hatcheries. Three trials were conducted to investigate the effects of early feed restriction and various supplements on the performance and gut health of broiler chicks brooded either in battery cages or floor pens. The trials lasted for 14, 21, and, 22 days respectively. In trial 1, chicks were subjected to 3 periods of fasting after hatch (36, 24, or 12 h). A short period of fasting (12 h) was associated with a lower feed:gain ratio compared to the longer periods (36 and 24 h). In trial 2, chicks were fed 4 dietary treatments (corn-SBM, corn-SBM + Tylan®, corn-SBM + Bio-Mos®, or corn-SBM + NuPro® ), subjected to 2 feeding programs (fed immediately or 12 h delay post-hatch), and brooded in 2 housing systems (cages or floor pens), in a split-plot experiment. Early feeding led to increased feed intake and body weight of chicks. Brooding chicks in cages resulted in an improved body weight, increased feed intake, and increased feed:gain ratio. Dietary treatments had no effects on broiler performance at all time periods measured. In trial 3, chicks were fasted for 24 h, placed immediately, fed a hatching supplement for 48 h, or fed a hatching supplement for 24 h post-hatch. Chicks placed immediately had markedly improved body weight. Feeding the hatching supplement numerically improved body weight at the end of the trial compared to early fasting. In summary, early feeding is an important factor affecting subsequent performance of chicks. Lactobacillus and Salmonella, as an index of gut health, were not influenced by early feed restriction. Lactobacillus is hypothesized to promote the health of the gut while Salmonella is considered a pathogen. The impact of early feed restriction on the colonization of these bacteria needs further research.