The response of growing native turkeys to different feed colours and forms

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Brooding period of turkey chicks is considered a nuisance or critical and requires special care to get them off to a good start. During the early ages of growing turkeys, they suffer from eyesight weakness, which delays learning and detection of the offered feed, resulting in adverse effects on their growth rate and marketing age. As a result, several attempts have been made to alleviate the adverse effects arising from such problem on the young turkeys as well as the consequences on final performance. Short‐term distortions of feed acceptability might be partially related to physical feed parameters such as size, colour and particle shape (Picard, Melcion, Bertrand, & Faure, 2002). The visual system is an important sensory system in the birds, whose behaviour is largely influenced by colour cues (Lecuelle et al., 2011). One protocol is of interest, offering feed in different forms with colours, which can call the attention of turkey chicks to detect the presence of offered feed rapidly. Indeed, when new feed is offered, poultry have a strong bias to use visual (shape and colour) in learning situations (Marples & Roper, 1996).
In turkeys, the physical structure of the feed is responsible for specific variations in feed intake and feed efficiency (Plavnik, Wax, Sklan, & Hurwitz, 1997). Newly hatched birds have an innate preference for feed of certain colours (Goldsmith, 2006). It may also be possible that some colours of feed might be attractive to newly hatched chicks, causing them to find feed early and reduce the incidence of starve‐out (Cooper, 1971; Khosravinia, 2007; Lecuelle et al., 2010; Ueda, Suehiro, Kainou, & Bungo, 2005; Weeks, Brooks, Coe, & Danbury, 1997). In addition, feed ingredients vary in their colouring and poultry rations are in a continuing state of change with many ingredients used, so that the mixed feed may change due to that (Abu Tabeekh, 2015). Till now, little is known about whether the visual experience of feed characteristics influences feed efficiency. Poults are much more reluctant to eat mash rather than crumbled feed, and this phenomenon is most marked in the 7–14 days of growth period (Favero et al., 2009). The latter authors added that feed form of the diet is also considered critical at this stage because of the aversion of turkeys to consume diets with high concentrations of fines. Changing feed form had the potential to improve feed consumption and growth performance (Awojobi, Buraimo, Eniolorunda, & Oluwole, 2011; Christopher, Mutandwa, Chihiya, & Mlambo, 2006; Farghly, 2012).
Considering the importance of attractiveness of the offered diet on rapid feed detection by turkey chicks and the effect of feed appearance on growth performance up to marketing age, this study was proposed various feed forms and colours which likely may increase feed intake and improve growth performance and final production profitability.

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