Reproductive performance of broiler breeder pullets when fed a high fiber developer either every-day or skip a day in rearing


The every-day (ED) fed pullets were more uniform in body weight when fed a high fiber diet as it provided a large volume of feed on a daily basis where skip a day (SAD) pullets were fed every other day causing some stress and feed anxiety that negatively influences uniformity. Feeding the pullets ED did not negatively impact hatchability or fertility. Hens that were fed ED as pullets started lay a week earlier and had greater egg production to 26 weeks of age. Eggshell quality was better and egg weight greater in the ED fed hens. This comparison suggests that perhaps later in life egg production might be better for hens fed ED as pullets because few eggs would be broken during collection and transport. When incubating the eggs, better shell quality can also lead to fewer contaminated eggs in older flocks. Generally, the high fiber diet fed on an ED basis has the potential to improve chick quality and broiler health with these improvements.


Genetic selection for increased growth rate in broilers makes feed restriction programs for broiler breeders essential to manage body weight, flock uniformity, and reproductive performance. A common feed restriction method for broiler breeders is skip-a-day (SAD) feeding, which allows a large volume of feed to be distributed through the house increasing the opportunity for all birds to eat. This method does create a stressful situation with no feed offered on the off-feed day, which creates feed anxiety and poor body weight uniformity. The objective of this experiment was to compare the reproductive performance (20-45 weeks), body weight gain and uniformity of broiler breeders after being reared on a high fiber, high volume diet (3.8% crude fiber, 8% whole oats and 16% wheat middlings) fed every-day (ED) or SAD.


A high fiber developer diet was fed on a SAD or an ED basis to the Ross 708 pullets (n=912) from 21 days to 20 weeks of age. Birds were weighed weekly and average body weight and coefficient of variation was calculated weekly. Pullets and cockerels were moved to lay pens at 21 weeks of age (n=35 birds/pen, 5 pens per treatment) equipped with nests and slats. Day length was increased from 8 hours to 15 hours per day. During lay, 25% of the birds from each treatment were weighed to adjust feed, monitor body weight, and maintain egg production. Eggs were collected daily and incubated every 4 weeks from 28 to 42 weeks of age.


Pullets were more uniform for body weight when fed ED than those fed SAD, and this difference carried over into the early lay period (28 weeks of age). Feeding method in rearing had no impact on fertility or hatchability. The ED fed birds came into lay about 7 days earlier than the SAD fed birds, and egg production was higher through 26 weeks of age in the ED reared birds. In addition, the eggs produced by the ED fed hens had better shell quality and egg size was larger than those produced by the SAD hens throughout the study. Feeding a high fiber diet to broiler breeder pullets on an ED basis during rearing, improved body weight uniformity in rearing, encouraged early lay, improved eggshell quality and increased egg weight.

State Issue

Animal Production


  • Year: 2020
  • Geographic Scope: University
  • County: Clarke
  • Location: College Station, Athens
  • Program Areas:
    • Agriculture & Natural Resources


    Wilson, Jeanna L.


CAES Collaborator(s)

  • Aranibar, Carla Dayana
  • Avila Godoy, Luis Pedro
  • Sweeney, Kelly Marie
  • Wilson, Jeanna L.
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