Management of broiler breeders must be altered continuously due to the changing genetic properties. That was the overall conclusion of the Broiler Breeder Nutrition Seminar, held recently at Wageningen University.


According to Wageningen’s René Kwakkel, broiler breeders play an important role in the poultry meat chain. A relative small number of parent stock can have a major impact on following links in the chain. Therefore optimization of the diet and management is necessary.

Feeding strategies and body weight uniformity

Wageningen researcher Rick van Emous presented his recent work with different feeding strategies and the effects on body composition and reproduction in broiler breeders. His take-home message was: “A modern broiler breeder needs a higher energy-protein ratio in the diet during the rearing and second phase of the laying period.”

Feeding management -- including frequency, timing of feed delivery and feeder space -- affects uniformity of body weight. Poor body weight uniformity results in reduced reproductive success because of overweight and underweight birds. For these reasons, Dr. Martin Zuidhof and his research team from Canada developed a precision broiler breeder feeding system. This innovative integrated feeding management system aimed to feed the birds “the right amount of feed on the right time.”

Emeritus Prof. Dr. Rob M. Gous was the third speaker and his talk was about light and breeders. He postulated that “less light is better for broiler breeders.” He explained the attendees that broiler breeders react different than layers on photo stimulation. From different experiments he concludes that a photo period of 13 hours during the laying period is the optimum.

Transgenerational effects of feed restriction

Based on the results of Van Emous, Prof. Dr Johan Buyse started a long-term project with different feeding strategies during the rearing and laying period of breeders. They follow broiler breeders during three generations and the focus is on the transgenerational effects of qualitative and quantitative feed restriction on behavior and welfare. They found comparable effects on body composition as found by Van Emous. Besides, they found interesting effects on motivation behavior of the birds.

The overall conclusion of the seminar was that management of broilers breeder must be altered continuously due to the changing genetic properties.