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Keywords:

  • Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar);
  • dietary moisture content;
  • digestibility;
  • feed intake;
  • pellet durability;
  • pellet hardness;
  • water stability

Abstract

Feeds in modern aquaculture must be of high physical quality to withstand mechanical impacts. However, physical quality of feed has been shown to affect nutritional responses. In this study, different physical feed qualities were created using different drying time. Effects on physical feed quality, feed intake, nutrient digestibility and growth in Atlantic salmon were investigated. Different drying times of four commercial-like diets resulted in dry matter contents of 95.9%, 94.1%, 92.3% and 90.8%. A fifth diet containing 70% dry matter was made by soaking pellets. Triplicate groups of Atlantic salmon (961 ± 12.1 g ind−1, mean ± SEM) were first fed ad libitum and thereafter a restricted ration. The diets differed significantly in bulk density, DORIS durability, hardness, water stability after 60 and 120 min, but not in water stability after 240 min. Feed intake and growth were not affected by physical quality of the dry diets, whereas soaking had a positive effect on feed intake. Restricted compared with ad libitum feeding increased nutrient digestibility, but digestibility was not affected by varying drying time among diets. However, soaking resulted in slightly reduced digestibility of starch. Most methods used to analyse physical quality did not correlate with feed intake and growth; only long-term water stability affected feed intake.