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Two experiments were conducted with Cobb feather sex broiler breeders comparing skip-a-day (SAD) feeding programs which began at either 2, 4, 6 or 8 wk of age. A fifth program, daily restriction started at 2 wk of age, was also compared. Chicks hatched in December and July, respectively, in Experiments 1 and 2 were exposed to natural daylight until 20 wk of age. All birds were fed ad libitum until the respective restriction programs began. All grower programs terminated at 20 wk of age. A breeder diet was given daily after 20 wk. Males and females were grown together. Sexual maturity was reached earlier in the 2-wk restriction groups (2-wi SAD in Experiment 1 and the 2-wk daily restriction in both experiments) than in the 8-wk SAD group. Egg production in Experiment 1 was also improved by the early restriction. Fertility and hatchability were not significantly affected by treatment. Based on the results of these experiments a SAD program beginning at 2 wk of age was as good as or better than one initiated at later ages. The 2-wk daily restriction program was equivalent to the 2-wk SAD program.

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Poultry science

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