Dietary self-selection and the regulation of protein and energy intake in chicks

Robert G. Elkin, Louis I. Ndife, John C. Rogler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Studies were conducted to determine whether chicks could regulate their protein intake independent of total energy intake in self-selection feeding trials. Day-old White Mountain cockerels were reared in electrically-heated battery brooders and given access to either a 23% protein control ration (no choice) or two diets containing 10% or 60% protein with or without supplemental amino acids. The latter were added to either improve the dietary amino acid balance or to alter plasma and brain levels of free large neutral amino acids (tryptophan, isoleucine, leucine, valine, phenylalanine, and tyrosine) which have been implicated in the neuroregulation of feed intake. Both feed and water were provided ad lib, and the location of the feed troughs within each pen were changed daily. Body weights and feed intakes were measured daily, and total calorie and protein intakes were calculated. Chicks offered 10% and 60% protein diets with no supplemental amino acids exhibited reduced weight gains and markedly higher protein intakes as compared to birds fed either the control ration or those given a choice between 10% and 60% protein diets supplemented with methionine. The higher protein consumption by chicks fed the unsupplemented diets most likely was a result of an attempt to compensate for a dietary methionine deficiency. Chicks fed the 10% and 60% protein diets supplemented with amino acids grew at a slower rate than those fed the 23% protein control diet. In general, plasma and brain data did not support a proposed relationship between certain large neutral amino acid ratios and protein or energy intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-749
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1985

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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