Individual measurement of the feed intake of poultry flock reared on the ground

The Poultry Research Unit of INRA of Nouzilly has developed, in collaboration with the Polytechnic Institute of Tours, a prototype of feeder allowing the recording of individual feed intake of poultry reared in a flock on the ground.

43-day-old Ross 708 chicken reared on the ground. © INRA, NICOLAS Bertrand
Updated on 12/27/2013
Published on 12/04/2013

Nowadays, measuring the individual feed intake of poultry can only be done by isolating an animal in a cage. The amount of feed eaten is then calculated by the difference between the amount of given feed minus what remains. However, this poultry husbandry in a cage does not represent real farming conditions (flock on the ground), and does not take into account the factors influencing individual consumption such as the behaviour or the environment. In addition, it is not possible to determine feed intake during the first days of poultry; 2-6 weeks are required for recording the feed intake.

The functional automatic feeder prototype (see diagram below) developed by INRA in collaboration with the Polytechnic Institute of Tours, is a circular feeding device, a shape already used in husbandry. The recorder has several accesses to the feed which are all provided with a weighing gauge and a RFID system in order to specifically identify an animal, and continuously calculate the weight difference of the feeding pan between the moment an animal got into the pan and the moment the animal got out of it. Access to the feed is made through a hole which is adjustable depending animal growth. With this installation, animals feed ad libitum, without constraints. The device, fitted with an anti-waste system, allows an early measuring and therefore a more accurate measuring of the amount of eaten feed. Developed and assessed on chicken flocks first, the device could be further used on other avian species.

Compared to existing equipment, this device has the advantage of not isolating animals from their congeners. Thus, studies conducted at INRA’s Centre of Tours have showed that growth performances are identical to those obtained with control feeders. The efficiency of this new device was demonstrated under usual conditions of rearing chickens in a flock on the ground (zootechnical parameters (growth, mortality, anatomy) and behavioural parameters).

From the prototype, new equipment can be developed and marketed to the attention of poultry breeders, animal nutrition companies, producer groups. This device can be also used in the framework of studies on the nutrition, growth, behaviour and the genetic of poultry.

INRA Transfert is seeking industrial partners in order to develop this patented technology through licence or licence option with a R&D program (French patent application FR1255242 filed by INRA on June 6, 2012, then extended by PCT on June 6, 2013 (EP2013/061643)).

A prototype of feeder allowing the recording of individual feed intake of poultry reared in a flock on the ground.. © INRA, CHABAULT Marie
A prototype of feeder allowing the recording of individual feed intake of poultry reared in a flock on the ground. © INRA, CHABAULT Marie

Contact(s)
Scientific contact(s):

  • Marie CHABAULT Poultry Research Unit, INRA Centre of Nouzilly
Licensing-out officer of INRA Transfert:
Réjane LE TINEVEZ (+33 1 42 75 93 02)

industrial applications

Development and marketing of an animal husbandry equipment intended for:

  • Poultry breeders for improving digestive efficiency of animals
  • Poultry producer groups
  • Animal nutrition companies for improving feed compositions
  • Research laboratories working on nutrition, growth, behaviour and genetics of poultry

advantages

  • Individual measuring of the feed intake (no misidentification of animals because there is no congestion at the feeder; a single animal can pass its head through the access hole of the feeder)
  • Optimum conditions for animal welfare: the animal is not isolated from its congeners (rearing in a flock, on the ground)
  • Animals feed ad libitum, without constraints
  • Animal growth performances do not differ between the control feeder and INRA’s prototype
  • The feeding device can be installed where desired in the poultry farmstead
  • The system is applicable to all ages and sizes of poultry; access to feed is made through a hole which is adjustable depending animal growth.
  • The device, fitted with an anti-waste system, allows an early measuring and therefore a more accurate measuring of the amount of eaten feed.
  • Application to different poultry species
  • The productivity of the entire poultry sector can be improved in fine