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The influence of slat material, slat coverage and breeder age on broiler breeder reproduction and progeny growth Decolongon, Joji


This study was conducted to examine the potential of plastic slats as flooring material for maintenance of broiler breeders. Although plastic slats are more expensive than wood slats, plastic slats are more durable and easier to clean. Wood and plastic slats were tested as full and partial flooring to determine the ideal proportion of slats for broiler breeder floors. Space allotment was 2040 cm²/bird on all floor treatments. . Arbor Acres broiler breeders, one of the more common strains in British Columbia, were raised to 58 weeks of age to monitor the influence of slat material and slat coverage on egg production and progeny growth over one production cycle. Since the pens were not set up to determine the number of eggs lost through slats, "egg production" values were actually egg recovery values. Over-all egg recovery was significantly higher on partial wood (PWS) and partial plastic slats (PPS) than on either of the full slat treatments. Breeders on full wood slats (FWS) had higher over-all egg production than those on full plastic slats (FPS). Differences were significant for three biweekly periods, but slats did not influence the over-all incidence of floor eggs and cracked floor eggs. The incidence of cracked nest eggs was significantly higher in FWS and FPS than in PWS and PPS pens during four lay periods and overall. The proportion of non-cracked nest eggs, which was taken as an approximation of the proportion of settable eggs, was higher for partial slat pens than full slat pens, and FWS pens had a higher proportion of non-cracked nest eggs than FPS pens. To monitor fertility and hatchability, eggs were incubated at 37, 42, 46, 50 and 56 weeks of breeder age. Fertility, hatchability of total eggs set and hatchability of fertile eggs was not affected by type of slats. Progeny from the hatch at 37, 46 and 56 week of breeder age were grown in Petersime battery cages to three weeks of age. The progeny of breeders on FPS had lower first week weight gain than the other progeny groups due to moisture loss when 7 FPS progeny were lost during the second growth trial. Weekly and over-all feed conversion of progeny was not affected by types of slats used by parents. The 56th week progeny were grown in Petersime battery cages to market age (six weeks). PWS and FPS progeny had higher third week weight gain than PPS progeny. During the sixth week, FWS and PWS progeny had higher weight gain than FPS and PPS progeny. The sixth week feed conversion of FPS progeny was higher than that of the other three progeny groups. No other differences were seen. As long as slats were used as partial flooring, there were no differences in egg production on wood or plastic slats. The proportion of "settable" eggs, fertility, and hatchability of eggs of plastic slat breeders were comparable with that of wood slat breeders regardless of slat coverage. There were significant differences in the 3-week growth of 37th, 46th and 56th week progeny and the 6-week growth of 56th week progeny on the different slat types, but the differences were not due to slat treatments. There was no interaction between breeder age and slat material, therefore the influence of slat material on egg production and progeny growth did not vary with breeder age. Although egg recovery and the number of settable eggs were lower for FPS breeders, breeders on plastic slats performed as well as those on wood slats in the present study.

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