Dietary self-selection by broilers at normal and high temperature changes feed intake behavior, nutrient intake, and performance

W. Syafwan, G.J.D. Wermink, R.P. Kwakkel, M.W.A. Verstegen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Self-selection assumes that at high ambient temperature, birds are able to select a diet from different sources to minimize the heat load associated with the ingested nutrient metabolism. The objective was to test the hypothesis that young chickens are able to compose an adequate ration by adjusting dietary nutrient intake from 3 different diets that vary in energy and in protein contents from a cafeteria system at high temperature (HT; 31–32°C) and at normal temperature (NT; 31–21°C). Night temperature was set at 25°C at HT and at 18°C at NT and 12 h dark:12 h light. Control birds were fed a standard control diet (CP: 215 g/kg; ME: 2,895 kcal/kg) for broiler chickens. The choice-fed birds could choose between the control diet, a high-protein diet (CP: 299 g/kg; ME: 2,780 kcal/kg), and a high-energy diet (CP: 150.7 g/kg; ME: 3,241 kcal/kg). The diets had similar pellet size and color. Birds had access to each diet in a separate feeding trough from 1 to 42 d of age. Results showed that broilers spent 3.3% more time eating at NT than at HT and showed 42% more panting behavior at HT than at NT. High temperature decreased feed intake, protein intake, energy intake, and BW gain. Choice-fed birds had similar feed intake and BW gain, 14% lower protein intake, and 6.4% higher energy intake than control-fed birds. Body temperature and heterophil/lymphocyte ratio were higher at HT than at NT. Water intake was 8% higher in control-fed birds than in choice-fed birds but similar at both temperature regimens. It can be concluded that broilers can compose a diet by selecting less protein but higher energy density from different diets compared with the control. Choice-fed birds had similar feed efficiency as control-fed birds at HT, indicating similar body composition for both groups. Extra energy intake of choice-fed birds at HT was used for panting activity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-549
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • high ambient-temperature
  • sensible heat-loss
  • environmental-temperature
  • water-consumption
  • electrolyte balance
  • growth-performance
  • male turkeys
  • body-weight
  • protein
  • chickens

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