The feed intake and performance of the broilers fed with different levels of dietary energy in the starter diet to 21 days of age were evaluated. In Experiment 1 it was evaluated the performance of birds fed to 2,900 and 3,200kcal ME kg-1 diets, and the results show that ME intake was highest for birds 3,200kcal ME kg-1 on the 7th day of age. Feed intake (FI), weight gain (WG), and feed conversion (FC) were not affected by dietary energy level on the 7th and 14th day of age, but on the 21st day of age, WG and FC were better for 3,200kcal ME kg-1 diets. In the experiment 2, isocaloric diets (2,900kcal ME kg-1) were formulated with four different oil levels (0, 1, 2, and 3%), in order to observe diet preference. Between 6 and 10 days of age, a quadratic response in FI for oil level was observed (Y=47.6+49.8x-13.4x², R²=0.98). Between 11 to 15, and 16 to 20 days of age, birds preferred to eat the diet with the highest level of oil (Y=16.6+52.85x, R²=0.97 and Y=19.30+59.05x, R²=0.98, respectively). Experiment 3 evaluated the performance and the pancreatic Lipase and Amylase activities of birds. On the 11th day of age, a linear response to WG and FC dietary oil level occurred. No differences were found in pancreatic lipase and amylase enzyme levels at 5 days of age. The diets with higher levels of energy and/or oil, during the first days of age, did not influence dietary preference, pancreatic lipase and amylase level or the performance of broilers. The results of this study show that diets with high levels of energy derived from lipids may not be interesting for young broilers, as they do not result in better performance (FI, WG, and FC).
chicks; feed intake; free choice; palatability