Adding whole grains to the typical diet of processed pellets fed to chickens significantly boosts meat production efficiency.
That is the finding from a study by University of Sydney Poultry Research Foundation PhD candidate Amy Moss.
“I found that by replacing 30 per cent of ground grain with whole grain the chickens produced 7.7pc more meat per kilogram of feed,” Ms Moss said.
“It also reduced the cost of milling and making the feed.”
The simile as rare as hens’ teeth holds the key to her breakthrough.
With no chompers in their mouth to break down food, chickens have a gizzard in their digestive tract, which is a muscular organ to grinds food to make it digestible.
“We traditionally feed poultry pellets of finely ground ingredients. Chickens fed these diets don’t use their gizzards and so these organs get very flabby,” Ms Moss said.
“If you add more whole grains to chickens’ diets their gizzards get a workout, and just like us when we work out, the gizzard gets more muscle.”
Ms Moss has not tested her research on egg layers yet, but she said it is likely that those chickens would also benefit from whole grain in their diet.
Amy is presenting her research at the Australian Poultry Science Symposium on February 5 in Sydney.