Choice feeding as a method of meeting the changing protein requirements of broilers during their growing period.
Broiler production is an important animal production enterprise with potential to make high returns. Increasing feed efficiency and early body weight gain has always been a top priority in the broiler industry. The general objective of broiler nutrition is to maximise production performance and profitability . Nutrition is of major importance in raising chicken, and feed is a major input in poultry production systems, accounting for over 60% of total production costs in commercial poultry sector Renkema (1992). The cost of feed is therefore often a constraint especially in developing countries. For instance, Onyenokwe (1994) observed that high cost of feed ingredients in many African countries has caused many poultry farmers to abandon the industry. The continued rise in feed prices is due to competition for some of the ingredients with human e.g. sorghum, wheat and maize. Broiler farmers are therefore forced to use combinations of feed ingredients of low cost to obtain savings and avoid any further loss of profits. It is therefore important to give special attention to feed and feeding since the rate of feed consumption increases rapidly with advancing age of the birds and good nutrition is reflected in the bird's performance and its products. The profitability of a broiler enterprise depends on the efficient conversion of feed to meat. Broilers have the ability to convert the feeds into meat with a high efficiency. For instance Morris and Njuru (1990) reported that broilers have much higher daily rates of protein deposition than layer chicken strains. This implies that fast-growing strains would require greater daily protein intakes than slow-growing ones. In the past, the major criteria for assessing the performance of broilers has been growth rate and feed conversion ratio (FeR). Diet specifications and feeding programmes have been aimed at maximising these two parameters whereby overall flock performance is calculated based on the total weight of chicken produced from total feed deliveries. With the new developments in understanding of nutritional factors affecting broiler growth and carcass composition, it is now possible to apply sophisticated and yet efficient approaches to feeding broilers.