An experiment with 210 male (Ross 308) 1-d-old broilers was conducted to test the hypothesis that a coarse diet improves performance of broilers fed a poorly digestible protein source. A highly digestible diet based on soybean meal was gradually replaced by a low digestible diet based on rapeseed meal (RSM) in 5 steps (RSM-0%, RSM-25%, RSM-50%, RSM-75%, and RSM-100%). Two diet structures (fine and coarse) were used as an additional factor. These 2 factors and their interactions were tested at different ages in a factorial arrangement with 10 dietary treatments. An increase in indigestible dietary protein negatively affected feed intake (P = 0.003), BW gain (P = 0.008), and feed conversion ratio (P = 0.034). This increase in dietary indigestible protein contents resulted in a decrease (P = 0.001) in total cecal volatile fatty acid concentration from 209.1 to 125.9 mmol/kg of DM digesta in broilers with increasing RSM in diets. Increase in the indigestible protein level, from RSM-0% to RSM-100%, resulted in a decrease (P = 0.042) in villus heights (1,782 vs. 1,574 µm), whereas crypt depths increased (P = 0.021; 237 vs. 274 µm). A coarse diet improved feed intake (P = 0.006), BW gain (P = 0.014), and feed conversion ratio (P = 0.009). Broilers fed coarse diets had approximately 11, 24, and 10% lower relative empty weights of the crop, proventriculus, and jejunum, respectively, whereas a 15% heavier gizzard was found compared with those fed the fine diets. Dietary coarseness resulted in approximately 16% lower gizzard pH, 21% greater villus heights, 27% lower crypt depths, 24% reduced branched-chain fatty acids, and 12% lower biogenic amines in the cecal digesta compared with broilers fed fine diets. In conclusion, feeding coarse particles improved broiler performance irrespective of digestibility of the diet. Hindgut protein fermentation can be reduced by coarse grinding of the diet.
- feed particle-size
- nutrient digestibility