Feeding time has the potential to influence the performance of adult broilerbreeder flocks and is thus of great importance. Aliterature review is presented concerning the responses of adult broilerbreeders to feeding time. It appears that there is no benefit in feeding broiler breeders later in the day with regard to egg numbers oregg weight.
There is a potential improvement in shell quality that results from feeding laterin the day or from splitting the daily feed allocation across more frequent feeding periods throughout the day. However, anticipated improvements in shell quality due to delayed feeding times may not be realised, particularly when birds are housed on litter floors. Furthermore, improvements in shell quality may not be translated into improvements in hatchability due to increases in shell thickness adversely affecting the watervapourconductance of the eggshell.
Broiler hatching egg producers should be aware that later feeding times may delay the time of oviposition, which may demand changes in farm procedures. Furthermore, delayed feeding times may result in feeding activity coinciding with other important periods of activity, such as mating and oviposition, resulting in a reduction in fertility and an increase in the production of eggs with abnormal shells. The current commercial practice of feeding adult broiler breeders early in the day, at, ornear, lights-on, is justified, as feeding at this time has positive consequences for other aspects of hatching egg production. However, afternoon feeding is not necessarily detrimental and may be an option to consider in cases where improvements in shell quality are required, although this may not be the solution for hatchability problems. If a change in feeding time is under consideration, environmental conditions, particularly the photoperiod and ambient temperature, must be taken into account, and any changes should be made gradually, as broiler breeders may be sensitive to abrupt changes in feeding time. Furthermore, changes in the feeding schedule should be accompanied by close monitoring of performance parameters, including the number of settable, abnormal and floor eggs, percentage of fertile eggs, and hatch of fertiles.