Influence of reduced protein content in complete diets with a consistent arginine–lysine ratio on performance and nitrogen excretion in broilers
The current discussion concerning resource-efficient broiler production inevitably leads to diets with lowered crude protein (CP) levels. Therefore, the hypothesis was formed that crude protein reduction far below the recommended levels can significantly lower the nitrogen (N) content in litter, if essential amino acids are added and a constant lysine-arginine ratio is guaranteed. In a five-week feeding trial, 360 ROSS 308 broilers of both sexes were randomly assigned to four feeding groups with six replicates each with a standard three-phase feeding program (d 1–7, d 8–14, d 15–35). The control group was offered a complete diet with a common protein content found in practice (CP-% as fed; starter: 21.5, grower: 20.5, finisher: 20.0; lysine/arginine: 100/115). In the experimental diets the lysine/arginine ratio was constant, whereas the protein content was lowered in steps of 1.00 percent each with simultaneous supplementation of growth limiting amino acids. Feeding a diet with a 2.00 percent reduced protein content led to higher body weights after 34 days compared to the control (2329 g vs. 2192 g). The N content in the total litter decreased significantly with a 2.00 and 3.00 percent reduction in the CP content (51.2 vs. 46.2 or rather 36.2 g/kg dry matter (DM)). Meticulous balanced protein-reduced diets therefore allow a significant environmental relief.