The general opinion among poultry producers and poultry-feed maunfacturers is that fibre content in poultry feed should be kept below 7%. Fibre is considered negative because it slows chicken growth and production (it seems to reduce the efficiency of feed utilization). However, recently a survey found that fibre in the feed may improve the chickens’ welfare from two aspects. Firstly, chickens that ate lower amounts of fibre suffered more from cannibalism than chickens fed with higher fibre diets. It may be due to the longer period of time chickens needed to digest high-fibre feed or just because they received more feed. The exact relationship is still being researched. Secondly, another study demonstrated that fibre ingredients in laying hens’ diet can reduce the ammonia emission in their manure. Fibre in the chickens’ digestive tract replaces some of the nitrogen (which transforms to uric acid and further causes ammonia emission) to provide energy for the good-bacteria. Furthermore, the increase of bacterial metabolism transforms ammonia to ammonium, which is less volatile for chickens’ health. In short, a higher fibre diet should be put into practice to upgrade the welfare of chickens.
World Poultry, No. 1, Volume 28, 2012