In a study to determine the influence of early skip-a-day (SAD) feed withdrawal on the heamatology and nutrient digestibility of broiler chickens, two hundred and twenty-five (225) Marshall broilers were, at day old, randomly assigned to 5 treatments of 45 chicks each, with each treatment having three replicates of 15 birds per replicate as follows: A full-fed control group (AL) and groups with feed withdrawn for 24 hours for 3 days (SAD-3), 4 days (SAD-4), 5 days (SAD-5) and 6 days (SAD-6) from 8th to 18th day of age after feeding them ad libitum for the first 7 days. Feed was provided ad libitum to all the chickens from 19 to 56 days of age. The birds were raised on deep litter. Heamatological variables measured or calculated on the 56th day included WBC, RBC, PCV, Hb, MCHC, MCH, MCV and total serum proteins. A metabolism trial was also carried out to determine the effect of feed restriction on nutrient digestibility/retention by the broilers. SAD feed withdrawal significantly (p<0.05) effected mean Packed Cell Volume (PCV), Red Blood Cell Counts (RBC), Haemoglobin content (Hb), Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin Concentration (MCHC) and total serum protein, while total leucocyte count (WBC), Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin (MCH) and Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV) were unaffected. Each of the treatments to which the skip-a-day feed withdrawal was applied generally had a mean percent PCV value that was not significantly different from that of the control treatment group (AL). Birds feed-restricted beyond 4 days (SAD-5 and SAD-6) had significantly (p<0.05) lower mean RBC, Hb and MCHC values than birds in the control treatment group (AL). Feed restriction beyond 3 days significantly (p<0.05) lowered mean Hb and MCHC contents in relation to birds fed ad libitum thus indicating that the birds were not under stress from early SAD feed restriction imposed on them but were in a good state of health. Mean MCV was numerically higher at the most severe levels (SAD-5 and SAD-6) of early feed withdrawal compared with the control treatment, which is suggestive of increase in haemoglobin production at the more severe levels of feed withdrawal. The differences were, however, not significant (P>0.05). Serum protein was significantly lower for broilers feed-restricted for 5 and 6 days (5.90 and 5.60 g/dL respectively) than for the control, SAD-3 and SAD-4 treatments (6.40, 6.23 and 7.30 g/dL respectively). Variations in mean differential counts between treatments were not significant (p>0.05). However, basophil counts increased slightly while eosinophils decreased slightly in feed-restricted birds in relation to the control birds. Early feed withdrawal had no significant (p>0.05) effect on apparent dry matter and crude fibre digestibility. Nitrogen retention tended to increase as the severity of SAD feed withdrawal increased while mean fat retention for broilers subjected to 4, 5 or 6 days of SAD feed withdrawal were not significantly different from that of birds fed ad libitum. It was concluded that early skip-a-day feed withdrawal for up to 6 days did not lead to severe stress, or adversely alter nutrient digestibility and retention in the broilers.
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L. Bratte, 2011. Influence of Early Skip-a-day Feed Withdrawal on the Haematological Indices, Serum Protein and Nutrient Digestibility of Broilers. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 10: 831-835.
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