The effects of feed particle size and floor type on the growth performance, GIT development, and pododermatitis in broiler chickens
The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of feed particle size and flooring designs on organ traits, performance and pododermatitis in broilers. A total of 480 broilers (Ross 308) of both sexes were randomly assigned to two feeding groups (finely or coarsely ground pelleted diets; with addition of 5% to 10% intact wheat in coarsely diets) and four different housing systems (litter; litter with floor heating; partially or fully slatted floor) with three subgroups each. A coarse diet increased the final gizzard and pancreas weights (p < 0.001) while decreasing the risk of Isthmus gastrici dilatation compared to a fine diet (p < 0.001). Broilers fed a coarse diet displayed an increased final body weight (p = 0.023) and led to a favourable feed conversion ratio. Final body weight was the highest (p < 0.001) for birds housed on partially or fully slatted floor. Housing birds on litter with floor heating showed the lowest pododermatitis scoring (p < 0.001). It seems to be favourable to use coarse diets for organ development, whereas slatted floors seem to foster enlargement of the Isthmus gastrici. Increasing growth performance was possible both when using coarse diets or slatted floors.