Reduction of dietary crude protein and feed form: Impact on broiler litter quality, ammonia concentrations, excreta composition, performance, welfare, and meat quality

Madri Brink, Geert P. J. Janssens, Peter Demeyer, Ozer Bagci, Evelyne Delezie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nitrogen (N) excreted by poultry is converted to ammonia (NH3), presenting an environmental risk and a health risk to the farmer and animals. A study was performed to investigate the effect of reduced CP and feed form on broiler performance and welfare, meat and litter quality, N utilization, and NH3 concentrations at litter level. A total of 2,232 Ross 308 male broilers was divided into 6 treatments and 6 replicates, which was fed diets in both pellet and mash forms with different CP levels of 205.0 g/kg (H, high), 187.5 g/kg (M, intermediate) and 175.0 g/kg (L, low) in the grower phase and 195.0 g/kg (H), 180.0 g/kg (M) and 165.6 g/kg (L) in the finisher phase. Individual amino acids (AA) were supplemented to maintain digestible AA-to-digestible lysine ratios. Decreasing dietary CP content to 187.5 g/kg in the grower phase and 180.0 g/kg in the finisher phase reduced NH3 concentrations at litter level (P < 0.001), but a further reduction in dietary CP had no additional effect. Mash treatments had better litter qualities and lower incidences of foot and hock lesions than pellet treatments at d 38 (P < 0.001). In addition, treatments with reduced CP had lower incidence of foot lesions at d 38 (P < 0.001). Broilers fed pelleted diets had higher ADFI, ADG, and final BW, improved feed conversion ratio (FCR), and heavier carcasses (P < 0.001) than those fed mash diets over a production period of 39 d. Performance could not be maintained when birds were fed L CP pelleted diets. This study demonstrated that, with the supplementation of AA to meet requirements, the concentration of dietary CP can be reduced to 187.5 and 180.0 g/kg in the grower and finisher phases respectively, without impairing broiler performance, meat yield and quality. Mash diets were favorable when considering the overall litter quality and welfare of the birds. However, they could not maintain the same broiler performance and slaughter yield as pelleted diets. Results from the present study may assist the poultry sector towards a socially acceptable low-emission farming system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-303
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2022


  • Broiler
  • Ammonia
  • Crude protein
  • Feed form
  • Performance

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