Effects of sex and stocking density on the performance of broiler chickens in a sub-tropical environment

Author: M. A. Madilindi, A. Mokobane, P. B. Letwaba, T. S. Tshilate, C. B. Banga, M. D. Rambau, E. Bhebhe & K. Benyi
Year: 2018
Issue: 3
Volume: 48
Page: 459 - 468

The current study investigated the effects of sex and stocking density and their interaction on growth performance and carcass characteristics of broiler chickens in a semi-arid sub-tropical environment. A total of 1008 day-old Cobb Avian48 chicks, namely 462 males and 546 females, were reared at final stocking densities of 30, 35, and 40 kg bodyweight per square metre (BW/m2) corresponding to 44, 51 and 59, and 52, 61 and 69 chicks per pen for males and females, respectively, during a 42-day production period. The experiment was a 2 × 3 factorial completely randomized design, with each sex-stocking density combination being replicated three times. After the initial weighing, the birds were weighed individually [grams (g)] each week until the 42nd day. At day 42, four birds from each pen were randomly sampled and slaughtered, and carcass characteristics were measured after 48 hours, and expressed as percentages of bodyweight. Growth performance and carcass characteristic parameters were subjected to analysis of variance using the general linear model procedures of Minitab statistical software version 17. Treatment means were compared using Tukey’s test at (α = 0.05). Males gained more weight and were significantly heavier at slaughter age (2649 ± 43.1 g) than females (2270 ± 43.1 g). There was a progressive reduction in feed intake with increasing stocking density, but neither sex nor stocking density influenced feed conversion ratio and mortality rate. Sex significantly affected dressing percentage and carcass parts percentages, namely breast, neck, shank, heart and abdominal fat and thigh, liver and gizzard. On the other hand, stocking density significantly influenced dressing percentage and carcass parts percentages such as breast, thigh, drumstick, neck, shank, liver and gizzard. There was a significant sex x stocking density interaction effect on percentages of thigh and liver. It is therefore suggested that for efficient 42-day production cycles of broilers in the subtropics, Cobb Avian48 males reared at the stocking density of 40 kg BW/m2 could be considered the best option.

Keywords: Cobb Avian48, feed conversion ratio, mortality
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