Animal Nutrition

Use of whole wheat in broiler feed: advantages and disadvantages

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Using whole wheat as a supplement to commercial feed is not a new concept. It has been a common practice in Northern Europe for more than 30 years (Forbes and Covasa, 1995; Engberg et al., 2004). Compound unpigmented feeds for broilers contain approximately 50-60% wheat.

  • Grinding and granulation, together with transport, represent a high energy cost to manufacture a ton of feed.
  • Hence, the high use of whole wheat in countries like Denmark, where farmers plant the grain and raise chickens simultaneously.
Wheat milling

Figure 1. Wheat milling

digestFast

In Spain, the main reason for including whole wheat in the feed was to control the problem of wet litter due to its effects on intestinal health and the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) (Ravindran et al., 2006; Husveth et al., 2015).

Recent data on the benefit of whole wheat on economic performance is conflicting.

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WHOLE WHEAT AND DIGESTIVE PHYSIOLOGY

In recent years, as a result of the ban on the use of antibiotics as preventives in the EU, the use of whole wheat has been extended to reduce the problem of wet litter and its impact on carcass quality.

Broiler litters

Figure 2. Broiler litters

Beneficial effects

The beneficial effects of the coarse grinding of the ingredients (and therefore of the whole wheat) are related to the improvements in the functioning of the GIT and, in particular of the gizzard, where it improves the functioning with an increase in size and a reduction in pH which benefits the activity of pepsin and enzymes.

Recent research shows that the inclusion of whole wheat influences the control and prevention of specific processes and pathogenic microorganisms such as Salmonella, Clostridium, and coccidiosis. For example, Engberg et al. 2 (2004) found that whole wheat reduced




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