Although the nutrient content of rye is essentially similar to that of wheat and corn, its feeding value for poultry is poor due to the presence of various antinutritional factors. Rye contains a water insoluble fraction, which if extracted, improves its feeding value. Various other treatments such as water soaking, pelleting, irradiation and the dietary supplementation of various antibiotics all help to improve the growth of chicks fed rye.

One of the most noticeable effects of feeding rye, other than reduced performance is the production of a very sticky and wet excreta. The sticky droppings are due to the pectin-like components present in rye. Structural arabinoxylans, present in rye endosperm cell walls, are responsible for creating the viscous digesta. These viscous products reduce the rate of diffusion of other solutes in the digesta so affecting nutrient uptake from the gut. In recent years enzyme preparations have been developed that markedly reduce the antinutritional factor and eliminate the wet-sticky fecal problem with rye based diets.

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