Defaecation and weight of the gastrointestinal tract contents after feed and water withdrawal in broilers.Br Poult Sci 2004; 45(1):61-6BP
1. Broilers were held under constant light for up to 24 h with access to feed and water, access to water only, or access to neither feed nor water. 2. Birds given continuous access to feed ate evenly over the 24-h period. Feed deprivation reduced drinking behaviour to about half of that when feed was available. Deprivation of feed, or of feed and water, had similar effects on defaecation and the reduction in the weight of the gut contents. It reduced the overall number of defaecations over the 24-h period to about 40% of that in birds given food and water, and the weight of the contents by about 75%. The maximum effect of deprivation on defaecation was seen after about 4 h, and on gut contents weight after about 12 h. 3. With longer fasting the contents of most parts of the gut, except the caeca, became wetter. 4. The findings may have implications for the practice of preslaughter food withdrawal to reduce the potential for soiling of the live birds and contamination of the carcase after slaughter. However, the likelihood is that relatively short overall feed deprivation times of not more than 8 to 12 h before killing may be desirable, but specifying firm recommendations on optimal feed withdrawal times requires further work.