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Animal Science, Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine

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Poultry Science





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An Iowa grain processor attempted to alter the typical 12-h preharvest fasting period by giving broilers cornstarch derivative pellets and water for 6 h followed by 6 h of no feed or water. After slaughter, plant food inspectors determined that livers from the treatment group were lighter in color than normal, and consequently a significant number of chicken carcasses were condemned for human consumption. The study reported herein was conducted to determine the effects of fasting or 3 feeding programs applied before processing on liver color, liver lipids, and liver glycogen of broilers. Dietary treatment groups consisted of 1) full-fed control broilers, 2) fasted broilers, 3) maltodextrin-fed broilers, and 4) and chickens given maltodextrin and methionine. Full-fed chickens had lighter liver coloration than chickens without access to feed for 6 or 12 h immediately prior to slaughter (P < 0.05). Lightness values for livers from full-fed control chickens (L* = 54.41) were 38% higher than those for livers from fasted broilers (L* = 39.30). Lighter liver colors in full-fed broilers were associated with higher hepatic lipid concentrations (6.38%) and more total liver lipid (4.96 g/liver) than was found in broilers without feed for 12 h. In contrast, darker livers from fasted broilers had lower levels of lipid (4.42%) and less total lipid (2.68 g/liver) than the full-fed broilers. Feeding maltodextrin pellets resulted in liver colors that were lighter (P < 0.05) than those found in fasted chickens but darker (P < 0.05) than livers from full-fed broilers. If carbohydrate supplements are fed prior to slaughter, producers should notify processing plant officials so that inspectors do not interpret light livers as an abnormal physiological state.


This article is published as Trampel, D. W., J. L. Sell, D. U. Ahn, and J. G. Sebranek. "Preharvest feed withdrawal affects liver lipid and liver color in broiler chickens." Poultry science 84, no. 1 (2005): 137-142. doi:10.1093/ps/84.1.137.

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Poultry Science Association, Inc.



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