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Unidentified factors required by poultry (with special reference to those in green feeds). Touchburn, Sherman Paul

Abstract

A series of experiments were conducted to investigate the need by poultry for unidentified factors for maximum growth, egg production, fertility, hatchability and viability. Dehydrated cereal grass and dehydrated alfalfa were fed as supplements to a practical poultry diet. Data collected included body weights, feed consumption, egg production, fertility, hatchability and viability. The experiments were continued through three generations of birds in order to study any long term effects. In order to Investigate the possibility that bacterial synthesis provided a source of unidentified factors In the litter one additional group of adult birds was fed a basal diet and maintained on deep litter while another receiving the same diet was maintained on a raised wire floor. It was found that neither 2.5 nor 5 percent of either dehydrated cereal grass or dehydrated alfalfa had any effect on growth, maintenance of body weight, efficiency of feed utilization, egg production, fertility or hatchability. The presence of dehydrated green feed in the diet reduced the incidence of mortality in chicks during the period from 4 to 12 weeks of age. This effect was noted only when the chicks were under stress due to severe infection with coccidiosis. The dehydrated green feeds had no effect on the incidence of mortality during the first 4 weeks of age, the late growing stage, or the period of egg production. These results indicated that under normal conditions the Ingredients of the basal diet provided adequate amounts of the unidentified factor(s) present in dehydrated green feed. In addition, bacteria synthesis in the litter appeared to provide a source of an unidentified factor necessary for high hatchability. Another series of experiments were conducted in which chicks maintained in battery brooders were fed purified diets supplemented with dehydrated cereal grass, dehydrated alfalfa and forage juice. Various other supplements were added to the diet separately and in combination with the green feed supplements in. an attempt to determine the nature of the unidentified growth factor(s) present in green feeds. The additional supplements included herring meal, penicillin, lactose, the ash of dehydrated cereal grass and the ash of forage juice. In order to study the effect of maternal diet on the response of chicks to unidentified factors, the chicks used were from parent stock variously depleted of the unidentified factors. It was found that dehydrated cereal grass, dehydrated alfalfa and forage juice contain an unidentified factor required by chicks for rapid early growth. This factor differed from the factor present in herring meal. The response to either of these factors was dependent on the presence of the other in the diet. Both dehydrated cereal grass and forage juice, however, appeared to contain small quantities of the herring meal factor. The unidentified growth factor present in dehydrated cereal grass was shown to be carried over from the dam to the chick. The variability in growth rate of the chicks obtained from hens fed the control diet suggested that bacterial synthesis in the litter provided a source of the unidentified factor present in dehydrated green feed. The amount of the factor thus available to the hens varied as conditions were more or less favourable for bacterial growth. The nature of the factor(s) present in the green feed supplements is not clear. A growth response to the ash of dehydrated cereal grass and of forage juice was obtained as well as to the intact supplements. The balance among the various inorganic constituents of the diet may be involved rather than a single mineral. The fact, that a greater growth response was obtained from supplements which increased the acidity In the intestinal tract suggests that these supplements may act Indirectly by affecting the absorption of nutrients.

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