‘MTSU On the Record’ research brightens henhouses ...

‘MTSU On the Record’ research brightens henhouses with colored chicken feed


OTR Kevin Downs-July2021 promo

The impact of changing the color of a chicken’s feed was the topic of discussion on a recent edition of the “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Kevin Downs, an associate professor of poultry science in the School of Agriculture, first aired July 27 on WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 and

Dr. Kevin Downs, School of Agriculture professor, poultry science and animal science

Dr. Kevin Downs

Gina K. Logue, MTSU News and Media Relations specialist

Gina K. Logue

You can listen to their conversation via the Soundcloud link above.

With former graduate student Joseph Gulizia, Downs conducted two trials to determine the effect of feed color on broiler performance over a 21-day period.

Their research is based on the established knowledge that chickens have well-developed vision. The animals can see all sections of the visible light spectrum as well as some ultraviolet light.

One trial included a complete starter diet with a control group of regular feed and groups of feed dyed red, green and blue. Another trial included a control group of regular feed and groups of feed dyed orange, yellow and purple.

School of Agriculture logoWhile most of the broiler performance was not influenced by feed color, the blue and purple feed colors seemed to have a positive influence on food conversion and body weight gain more than other colors. Red appeared to be the chickens’ least favorite feed color.

“In addition to just playing around with color a little bit, we also wanted to see if there was something maybe different in a more modern broiler than what we saw in previous data back in the ‘70s,” Downs said.

The study was published in May 2021 in the academic journal Animals.

To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, visit the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at

For more information about the radio program, contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.