Skip to main content

Diet selection for protein by poultry

  • J.M. Forbes (a1) and F. Shariatmadari (a1)

If birds can learn to associate different sensory properties of foods with different metabolic feelings caused by different protein contents, then they should be able to choose a balance of foods which makes them feel most comfortable. Broiler chickens given a choice between two foods, one containing a higher concentration of protein than required and the other a lower concentration, eat amounts of the two which will give a diet that is close to optimum for growth in terms of overall protein content. When both foods have excessive or insufficient protein the birds eat predominantly from that closer to their requirements. As broilers grow they choose a progressively lower protein diet in line with their reducing protein:energy requirements. Strains with higher potential rates of lean deposition voluntarily consume a higher ratio of high-protein to low-protein food compared with low-growth strains, while strains selected for high fat deposition eat less protein per unit of energy than lean birds. Males select higher protein diets than females. Although increases in environmental temperature would be predicted to reduce energy requirements and thus increase the protein:energy ratio in selected diets, heat-stressed birds do not increase the protein content of their diet, probably because of the high heat increment of protein metabolism. Short periods of access to one food alone are followed by a preference for the opposite food when access to both is restored. When given appropriate training, laying hens can balance their diet for protein but not as well as broilers. There is evidence that growing chicks can differentiate high-lysine from low-lysine foods but do not entirely balance their diet for lysine. Methionine-deficient broilers eat more of a methionine supplemented food than normal birds, while laying hens eat some methionine-fortified food when given a choice against a low-methionine food, but not enough to support normal egg production. It is concluded that poultry can show a great degree of ‘nutritional wisdom’ as far as protein is concerned but that they need to be allowed to differentiate between foods with different nutrient profiles by sensory means, and a lack of training might account for some of the poor results obtained.

Hide All
Anderson, G.H. (1979) Control of protein and energy intake; role of plasma amino acids and brain neurotransmitters. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 57: 10431057
Balog, J.M. and Millar, R.J. (1989) Influence of the sense of taste on broiler chick feed consumption. Poultry Science 68: 15191526
Blake, A.G., Mather, F.B. and Gleaves, E.W. (1984) Dietary self-selection of laying hens inadequate to overcome the effects of high environmental temperatures. Poultry Science 63: 13461349
Boorman, K.N. (1979) Regulation of protein and amino acid intake. In: Food Intake Regulation in Poultry (Eds. Boorman, K.N. and Freeman, B.M.) Longman, Edinburgh, pp. 87125
Brody, T.B., Cherry, J.A. and Siegal, P.B. (1984) Responses to dietary self selection and calories in liquid form by weight selected lines of chickens. Poultry Science 63: 16261633
Chah, C.C. and Moran, E.T. (1985) Egg characteristics of high performance hens at the end of lay when given cafeteria access to energy, protein and calcium. Poultry Science 64: 16961712
Covasa, M. and Forbes, J.M. (1993) Cholecystokinin octapeptide suppresses feeding and conditions colour aversion in chickens. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 52: 30A
Cowan, P.J. and Michie, W. (1977) Choice feeding of the turkey: use of a high-protein concentrate fed with either whole wheat, barley, oats or maize. Zeitschrift fur Tierphysiologie, Tierernahrung und Futtermittelkunde 39: 124130
Cowan, P.J. and Michie, W. (1978) Environmental temperature and broiler performance: the use of diets containing increasing amount of protein. British Poultry Science 19: 601605
Cumming, R.B., Mastika, I.M. and Wodzika–Tomaszewska, M. (1987) Practical aspects of choice feeding in poultry and its future role. In: Recent Advances in Animal Nutrition in Australia 1987 (Ed. Farrell, D.J.), University of New England, Armindale, NSW, pp. 283289
Denbow, D.M. (1989) Peripheral and central control of food intake. Poultry Science 68: 938947
Duncan, I.J.H. (1992) Measuring preferences and the strength of preferences. Poultry Science 71: 658663
Elkin, R.G., Ndife, L.I. and Rogler, J.C. (1985) Dietary self selection and the regulation of protein and energy intake in chicks. Physiology and Behaviour 34: 743749
Emmans, G.C. (1977) The nutrient intake of laying hens given a choice of diets in relation to their protein requirement. British Poultry Science 18: 227236
Emmans, G.C. (1991) Diet selection by animals: theory and experimental design. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 50: 5964
Emmerson, D.E., Denbow, D.M., and Hulet, R.M. (1990) Protein and energy self–selection of turkey breeder hens: Reproductive performance. British Poultry Science 31: 283292
Emmerson, D.E., Denbow, D.M., Hulet, R.M., Potter, L.M. and Van Krey, P. (1991) Self–selection of dietary protein and energy by turkey breeder hens. British Poultry Science 32: 555564
Azahan Engku, E.A. and Forbes, J.M. (1989) Growth, food intake and energy balance of layer and broiler chickens offered glucose in the drinking water and the effect of dietary protein content. British Poultry Science 30: 907917
Forbes, J.M. and Blundell, (1989) Central nervous control of voluntary food intake. In: The Volunary Food Intake of Pigs, (Eds Forbes, J.M., Varley, M.A. and Lawrence, T.L.J.), British Society of Animal Production, Edinburgh, pp. 726
Forbes, J. M. and Covasa, M. (1994) Application of diet selection by poultry with particular respect to whole cereals. Worlds' Poultry Science Journal (submitted)
Funk, E. M. (1932) Can the chick balance its ration? Poultry Science 11: 9497
Gentle, M.J. (1971) Taste and its importance to the domestic chicken. British Poultry Science 12: 7786
Gous, R.M. and Dupreez, J.J. (1975) The sequential feeding of growing chickens. British Journal of Nutrition 34: 113117
Graham, W.R. (1932) Can we learn anything from a free-choice of feeds as expressed by chicks? Poultry Science 11: 365366
Harper, A.E. (1974) Amino acids in nutrition. In: Processed Foods – Protein (Eds White, P.L. and Fletcher, D.C.), Publishing Science Group Inc., Acton, Massachusetts, pp 4954
Holcombe, D.J., Roland, D.A. and Harms, R.H. (1976a) The ability of hens to regulate phosphorus intake when offered diets containing different levels of phosphorus. Poultry Science 55: 308317
Holcomb, D.J., Roland, D.A. and Harms, R.H. (1976b) The ability of hens to regulate protein intake when offered a choice of diets containing different levels of protein. Poultry Science 55: 17311737
Holder, M.D. (1991) Conditioned preferences for the taste and odour components of flavours: blocking but not overshadowing. Appetite 17: 2945
Hughes, B.O. (1979) Appetites for specific nutrients. In: Food Intake Regulation in Poultry (Eds. Boorman, K.N. and Freeman, B.M.), British Poultry Science Ltd., Edinburgh pp. 141169
Hughes, B.O. and Dewar, W.A. (1971) A specific appetite for zinc in zinc-depleted domestic fowls. British Poultry Science 12: 255258
Hughes, B.O. and Wood–Gush, D.G.M. (1971) Investigations into specific appetites for sodium and thiamine in domestic fowls. Physiology and Behaviour 6: 331339
Injidi, M.H. (1981) The involvement of melatonin, thyroid hormones and glucose in the control of feed and growth of chickens. PhD thesis, University of Leeds, 280pp
Jacobs, H.L. and Scott, S. (1957) Factors mediating food and liquid intake in chickens. I. Studies on the preference for sucrose and saccharin solutions. Poultry Science 36: 815
Kaminska, B. (1979) Evaluation of chickens ability to meet nutrient requirements in case of free choice of different protein-level mashes. Instytut Zootechniki Prace Bad. Zakl. Hod. Drobiu 8: 4757
Kare, M.R. and Maller, O. (1967) Taste and food intake in domestic and jungle fowl. Journal of Nutrition 92: 191196
Kare, M.R. and Pick, H.L. (1960) The influence of the sense of taste on feed and fluid consumption. Poultry Science 39: 697706
Kaufmann, L.W., Collier, G. and Squibb, R.L. (1978) Selection of an adequate protein–carbohydrate ratio by domestic chicks. Physiology and Behaviour 20: 339344
Kempster, H.L. (1916) Food selection by laying hens. Journal of the American Association of Institutions and Investigators in Poultry Husbandry 3: 2628
Kiiskiinen, T. (1987) Influence of choice feeding on the performance of growing pullets and laying hens. Annales Agriculturae Fenniae 26: 131144
Kirchgessner, M., Steinruck, U. and Roth, R.X. (1990) (Selective zinc intake of broilers.) Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition 64: 250260
Kutlu, H.R. and Forbes, J.M. (1983) Self–selection of ascorbic acid in coloured foods by heat–stressed broiler chicks. Physiology and Behaviour 53: 103110
Leclercq, B. and Guy, G. (1991) Further investigations on protein requirement of genetically lean and fat chickens. British Poultry Science 32: 789798
Leeson, S. and Summer, J.D. (1977) Dietary self–selection by poultry. Feedstuffs, Minneapolis 19: 2124
Leeson, S. and Summers, J.D. (1978a) Dietary self–selection by turkeys. Poultry Science 57: 15791585
Leeson, S. and Summers, J.D. (1978b) Dietary selection for protein and energy by pullets and broilers. British Poultry Science 19: 425430
Leibowitz, S.F., Lucas, D.J., Leibowitz, K.L. and Jhanwary, Y.S. (1991) Developmental patterns of macronutrient intake in female and male rates from weaning to maturity. Physiology and Behaviour 50: 11671174
Lin, L., York, D. and Bray, G. (1992) Acute effects of intracerebroventricular corticotropin–releasing hormone (CRH) on macronutrient selection. International Journal of Obesity (Suppl. 1): 52
Martin, G.M., Bellingham, W.P. and Storlien, L.H. (1977) Errects of varied colour experience on chickens' formation of colour and texture aversions. Physiology and Behaviour 8: 415420
Mastika, I.M. and Cumming, R.B. (1985) Effect of nutrition and environmental variations on choice feeding of broilers. Recent Advances in Animal Nutrition in Australia 1985 (Ed. Farrell, D.J.), University of New England, Armindale, NSW
Mastika, M. and Cumming, R.B. (1987) Effect of previous experience and environmental variations on the performance and pattern of feed intake of choice fed and complete fed broiler. Recent Advances in Animal Nutrition in Australia 1987 (Ed. Farrell, D.J.), University of New England, Armindale, NSW, pp. 60282
Murphy, M.E. and King, J.R. (1989) Sparrows discriminate between diets differing in valine or lysine concentrations. Physiology and Behaviour 45: 423430
Newman, R.K. and Sands, D.C. (1983) Dietary selection for lysine by the chick. Physiology and Behaviour 31: 1320
NRC (1984) Nutrient Requirements of Poultry, 8th revised Edition, National Academy Press, Washington, DC
Rogers, P.J. and Blundell, J.E. (1991) Mechanisms of diet selection: the translation of needs into behaviour. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 50: 6570
Rose, S.P. and Lambie, I.T.M. (1986) Comparison of a choice–feeding regimen for broilers under continuous and intermittent lighting programmes. Proceedings of the 7th European Poultry ConferenceParis, World's Poultry Science Association, pp 903–906
RoseS,P. S,P. and Michie, W. (1982) The food intakes and growth of choice–fed turkeys offered balancer mixtures of different compositions. British Poultry Science 23: 547554
Rose, S.P. and Michie, W. (1986) Effect of temperature and diet during rearing of layer strain pullets. In: Nutrient Requirements of Poultry and Poultry Research, (Eds. Fisher, C. and Boorman, K.N.), Butterworths, London, pp 214216
Rose, S.P. and Kyriazakis, I. (1991) Diet selection of pigs and poultry. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 50: 8798
Rugg, W.C. (1925) Feeding experiments, free choice of feeds. Victoria, Australia, Department of Agriculture Bulletin 54: 3656
Savory, C.J. (1976) Effects of different lighting regimes on diurnal feeding patterns of the domestic fowl. British Poultry Science 17: 341350
Scott, T.A. and Balnave, D. (1989) Responses of sexually–maturing pullets to self–selection feeding under different temperature and lighting regimes. British Poultry Science 30: 135150
Shariatmadari, F. and Forbes, J.M. (1990) The influences of meal composition on subsequent food selection in broiler and layer chickens. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 49: 219A
Shariatmadari, F. and Forbes, J.M. (1991) A comparison of a split diet system and choice feeding on food intake and growth of broilers. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 50: 96A
Shariatmadar, F. and Forbes, J.M. (1992a) The effect of force–feeding various levels of protein on diet selection and growth of broiler chickens. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 51: 56A
Shariatmadari, F. and Forbes, J.M. (1992b) Diurnal food intake patterns of broiler chickens offered a choice of feed varying in protein content. Animal Production 54: 470
Shariatmadari, F. and Forbes, J.M. (1993) Growth and food intake responses to diets of different protein contents and a choice between diets containing two levels of protein in broiler and layer strains of chicken. British Poultry Science 34: 959970
Sinurat, A.P. and Balnave, D. (1986) Free–choice feeding of broilers at high temperature. British Poultry Science 29: 577584
Steinruck, U., Kirchgessner, M. and Roth, F.X. (1990a) [Selective methionine intake of broilers by changing the position of the diets.] Archivs fur Geflugelkunde 54: 245250
Steinruck, U., Roth, F.X. and Kirchgessner, M. (1990b) [Selective feed intake of broilers during methionine deficiency.] Archivs fur Geflugelkunde 54: 173183
Steinruck, U., Roth, F.X. and Kirchgessner, M. (1991) [Selective vitamin B6 intake of broilers.] Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition 65: 110119
Steinruck, U. and Kirchgessner, M. (1992) [Regulation of protein intake of hens with high laying performance by self–selecting diets with different protein levels.] Archivs fur Geflugelkunde 56: 163171
Stephens, D.W. and Krebs, J.R. (1986) Foraging Theory. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 247pp.
Summers, J.D. and Leeson, S. (1979) Diet presentation and feeding. In: Food Intake Regulation in Poultry (Eds Boorman, K.N. and Freeman, B.M.), British Poultry Science Ltd., Edinburgh, pp. 445469
Wurtman, R.J. and Ferntrom, J.D. (1975) Control of brain monoamine synthesis by diet and plasma amino acids. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 28: 638647
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

World's Poultry Science Journal
  • ISSN: 0043-9339
  • EISSN: 1743-4777
  • URL: /core/journals/world-s-poultry-science-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed