PSA 2021: Young broilers benefit from finer corn

Animal Nutrition Views

Ioannis Mavromichalis, Ph.D., gives his views on poultry, pig and dairy nutrition based on his experience as a nutrition consultant with clients around the world.

PSA 2021: Young broilers benefit from finer corn

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Research presented at the Poultry Science Association (PSA) 2021 annual meeting finds a finer particle size supports a higher growth rate

Earlier research had indicated that finer grinding of corn does not offer any health or performance benefits in broilers. In fact, it was always argued that a coarse particle size supports a healthier gut system as birds need the “grittiness” for their digestive system to perform as it is supposed to. And, in general that remains true.

What has changed, however, is that we continue to market broilers at younger ages, with 35 days being the norm in many regions these days. Thus, every day counts more than it did not long ago when market age was 56 days (at least these are the days I remember as a student.)

Plus, there is a new interest in the performance of the very young broiler (0-7 days), something that was not given much thought back then. Today, it is well established that an early boost in life helps not only lifetime performance but also health and survivability.

With all these in mind, a college student, Emily K. Stafford, from Middle Tennessee State University tested three corn particle sizes in broilers from day 1 to 21 post-hatch. It was revealed that the finer of the three particle sizes (around 800 microns) supported higher growth rate (180 g/day) compared with the two more coarse particle sizes of about 1,400 and 2,000 microns that supported growth equal to 177 and 169 g/day, respectively. This was during the critical first 7 days, after which broilers handled any particle size with equal efficiency.

This significant finding adds to the body of evidence that young broilers respond well to amylase supplementation, gelatinization of starch and finer particle size. Whether this is a reflection of greater potential for growth compared with their immature digestive system or an existing fact we never realized before is a matter of discussion. The point here is that young broilers must be part of the new concept that is called “young animal nutrition.”