Effects of Feed Particle Size and Hydro-Thermal Processing Methods on Starch Modification, Nutrient Digestibility and the Performance and the Gastrointestinal Tract of Broilers
Influences of feed particle size (coarse, fine) and hydro-thermal processing methods (HTPM) (without–non-compacted feed, pelleting, expanding and pelleting) on feeding value and the performance and digestive tract of 624 broilers were studied. HTPM increased the starch disintegration of feed. Starch disintegration and electron microscopy indicated the highest degree of starch modification in expanded and pelleted feed. HTPM affected ether extract digestibility (p < 0.05). A grinding-by-HTPM interaction was found in case of crude protein digestibility (p = 0.008). Non-compacted feed reduced daily feed intake (DFI) and body weight gain and increased the feed to gain ratio compared to compacted feeds (p < 0.001). Compacted feeds increased proventricular size and the risk of Isthmus gastrici dilatation compared to coarsely ground non-compacted feed, except for finely ground expanded and pelleted feed. Finely ground feed reduced proventricular weights compared to coarsely ground feed and pelleted feed compared to other feeds. Non-compacted feed increased gizzard weights compared to compacted feeds. Relationships between proventricular size and Isthmus gastrici dilatation and the DFI were detected. Summarizing, the beneficial effects of pelleted feed were mainly based on the reduction of feed wastage and selection. However, the high DFI caused by pellet feeding is also a main risk factor for proventricular dilatation.