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Feeding and Growth of Japanese Quail (Coturnix C. Japonica) Chicks With Unpredictable Food Access

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

We investigated the effect of unpredictable feeding times on feeding activity and body mass gain in fast growing Japanese quail (Cotumix c. japonica) from 7 to 31 d of age. Quail chicks were subjected to a long day length (18L:6D) with ad libitum food during (1) 17.5 h of the light period, starting 0.5 h after lights-on (group A, n = 14), (2) 6 h of the light period, starting 0.5 h after lights-on (group B, n = 14), and (3) 6 h of the light period, starting pseudorandomly either 0.5, 6, or 11.5 h after lights-on (group C, n = 12). We examined the effects on locomotor, feeding and drinking activity, body mass, and food intake. Treatment did not affect daily locomotor, feeding, or drinking activity. Distribution of activity over the light period was affected: group B and C showed more activity above the feeder and water container outside the feeding time, and showed a large bout of locomotor and feeding activity at the start of this period. Both overall weight gain and gross energy intake (GEI) were highest in group A and lowest in group C. Distribution of food intake throughout the daily feeding period was affected: group B and C consumed more food during the first part of the feeding period than group A. Daily GEI in group C was influenced by fasting duration prior to feeding and by time of food availability. We suggest that young quail adjust their feeding behaviour in response to their instantaneous energy needs. This effect is modulated by time of food availability: food arriving later in the day led to higher intake levels.

Affiliations: 1: Zoological Laboratory, University of Groningen, Haren, The Netherlands; 2: Zoological Laboratory, University of Groningen, Haren, The Netherlands, Centre for Isotope Research (CIO), University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands


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