The study examined the effect of skip a-day feed restriction on Rhode Island Red chicken and evaluated the effect in relation to age, body weight, egg quality, weight of reproductive tract and liver at the onset of egg laying. Two hundred 40 day-old chicks with mean body weight of 48.92 ± 1.53 g were randomly distributed to 12 pens each with 20 chicks, representing 4 feeding regimen of T1 (unrestricted, control), T2 (restricted at 7, 14, 21 and 28 days of age), T3 (restricted at 35, 42, 49 and 56 days of age) and T4 (restricted at 63, 70, 77 and 84 days of age). Feed restriction was based on skipping a-day once in a week and the next day’s feed offer was based on the previous day’s feed intake. The average day to lay first egg was significantly longer (P < 0.05) for T3 treatment groups compared with the others. The values were 140.8 ± 0.8, 140.17 ± 2.5, 147 ± 2.2 and 143.83 ± 2.3 days for T1, T2, T3 and T4 groups, respectively. There was also highly significant (P < 0.01) difference in body weight (1305 ± 13.2, 1374.3 ± 23.2, 1352 ± 23.5 and 1429.23 ± 44.5 g for T1, T2, T3 and T4 groups, respectively) and the values were higher for birds restricted at later age of growth. Egg weight at the onset of egg lay for the respective treatments were 42.68 ± 0.72, 42.43 ± 1.91, 47.9 ± 0.87 and 41.88 ± 0.77 g. Pullets of T4 group had significantly (P < 0.01) heavier uterus weight and longer length in absolute term than the control. Except for yolk diameter and shell thickness (P < 0.05), the egg quality parameters considered were not significantly (P > 0.05) different between the treatment groups. The result revealed the conclusion that feed restriction by skip a-day feeding system at T3 resulted in higher egg weight and can be considered as the optimum age for pullet rearing. Additionally, feed restriction at T4 could also be recommended due to heavier uterus weight and longer length in absolute term as these attributes indicate good consistency for the subsequent egg production.
Keywords: Body weight, egg quality, feed restriction, onset of egg laying, skip a-day.
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