Nutrition

Rearing nutrition

Feed description and management

Starter feed

  • High density diet with highly digestible raw materials.
  • Investment that sets up the basis of skeletal and muscular growth of the pullet.
  • Feed should always be available.

Grower feed

  • Medium density diet with more variety of raw materials.
  • This supports skeletal and muscular growth.

Developer feed

  • Low density diet with raw materials high in fibre.
  • Feed with significant levels of fibre or a higher particle size to develop the feed intake for the start of lay.

Changing diets

  • Delay a change to the diet if the target body weight is not reached.
  • If the body weight isn’t achieved by 5 or 11 weeks of age, there is a need to review the nutrition, density and management in the previous weeks.
  • If the birds are over the target body weight, the change to the next diet can be done a week earlier.

Formulation tips

Starter

  • Crumble feed presentation will improve growth and make it easier to reach the standard body weight.
  • It could be interesting to invest in highlt digestible raw materials if they are available.
  • Soya oil or coconut oil are better sources of energy than palm oil: at least during the first three weeks of age.
  • A minimum of 0.30 % of salt will help to increase feed intake.

Grower

  • Transition to mash feed if the starter was crumble feed.
  • A minimum of 0.28 % of salt will help to have enough feed intake.
  • A minimum of added fat will reduce the dustiness of the mash feed (1 – 2 % based on cost impact).

Developer

  • Transition to mash feed if the starter was crumble feed.
  • Crude fiber level needs to be as high as possible based on the available raw materials (> 3 %, up to 5.5 %).  These values can be applied, or even exceeded, as long as they are of good quality.
  • If the available raw materials don’t allow you to follow the recommendations below. Your Nutritionist should make a proportionally higher specification and the feed mill needs to make a higher particle size feed to compensate the lack of fibre.
  • A minimum of added fat will reduce the dustiness of the mash feed (1 – 2 % based on cost impact).

Others

  • Calcium particle size in pullet feed should be fine (average 1 mm).
  • Enzymes: use and effect in the diet should be based on the available substrate in the diet.
  • Antioxidants: protect against oxidation of the oils in the feed mill and the oxidation of fats and others in the diet.
  • Organic minerals: provide additional benefits to the existing inorganics and may reduce the inclusion levels of the minerals.

Nutrient requirements

Fibre in the diet

  • The feed intake development is one of the key factors for developing a pullet ready to lay. The feed intake capacity is related to the gut size, the addition of fibre in the diet expands the size of the gut and improves the feed intake capacity.
  • The fibre concept is getting complex in poultry. There is new knowledge showing how different types have a different effect.

Fibre can be classified like:

  • The total dietary fibre (TDF) is a sum of water soluble fibre (WSF), neutral detergent fibre (NDF), acid detergent fibre (ADF) crude fibre (CF) and acid detergent lignin (ADL).
  • The addition of certain level of fibres since early ages will support the feed intake capacity (see table 10).
  • There are several raw materials that can supply the necessary fibre in the diets to develop the feed intake capacity (table 9)

 

Onset of lay nutrition

How to develop feed intake as the bird is growing and laying its first egg

Feed description & management

A transition feed that supports the final development of the pullet and the nutrient need for the start of lay.
  • This feed is recommended to use until you reach 70 % of laying rate and have an increasing feed intake curve.
  • This feed could be given since week 17 as replacement of the pre-lay.

Nutrient requirements

  • The ideal protein profile is the same as in the layer rations.
  • The vitamins and minerals are the same as in the layer rations.
  • Crude fibre: keeping high levels as in the developer feed supports the feed intake development.
  • Try to have a level minimum of 3.5 % or higher.

Formulation tips

  • The addition of fats will give the formulation room for the requested calcium and fibre.
  • The 60% of the calcium should be given in coarse calcium form.
  • A minimum of salt, 0.28 %, will help in the feed intake stimulation.

 

Laying nutrition

How to feed hens for achieving as many as saleable eggs as possible during the laying period

 

FEED DESCRIPTION AND MANAGEMENT

Type of feed The feed should fulfill the maintenance, growth and production needs. The feed should be adjusted when:

  • Egg mass changes: DO NOT change amino acids if the % lay drops unless the egg mass (% lay x size egg) is dropping too;
  • Body weight changes: body weight affects energy needs, around +/-4 kcal every 50 grams of body weigh change;
  • Feed intake changes: housing temperature will impact the feed intake. Hot temperature reduces the feed intake and vice versa.

Feed management on farm

Due to the variability of the raw materials the nutrient composition of the feed varies, to avoid this challenge we recommend to follow the Chart 1 decision tree:

  • 40 % in the morning and 60 % in the afternoon (chart 2).
  • Layer hens should clear all feed left in the feeder during the noon period.
  • The time at which the feeder is empty depends on the lighting program.

 

Nutrients requirements

Energy

The energy recommendation of this guide doesn’t take into account the effect of the temperature in the needs of the layer hen. It needs additional adjustments by the nutritionist. Most of the energy intake will be used for maintenance. The body weight of the bird drives the energy requirement (see chart 3).

There are different models to approach the energy evaluation, literature references (INRA, FEDNA, NRC . . .) usually in MEn and calculations based on formulas, whereby the different elements of the raw materials are taken into account. Due to the variability of the values given by different systems, the recommendation of energy is defined as a range.

Energy recommendation should be calculated for a specific body weight of the bird and might need adjustments.

 

Amino acids

Most of the amino acid intake will be used for egg mass production. The egg mass, % lay x egg size, drives the amino acid needs (chart 4)

Working with digestible AA is highly recommended when low digestible raw materials are used in the diet.

Formulation Tips

Crude Protein

Using the minimum amount of crude protein is recommended if there is limited information in nutrition about the raw materials.

Fat

Added fat will reduce the dustiness of mash feed (1 – 2 % based on cost impact).

Ca/P balance

  • Levels of Ca and P must be adapted as the layer hen gets older.
  • An excess or deficiency of P can cause eggshell issues in the short or long term.
  • Coarse limestone is necessary for eggshell quality. It can be replaced in part by oyster shells.

Others

  • Enzymes: use and effect in the diet should be based on the available raw materials in the diet.
  • Antioxidants: protect against oxidation of the oils in the feed mill and the oxidation of fats and others in the diet.
  • Organic minerals: provide additional benefits to the existing inorganics and may reduce the inclusion levels of the minerals.

Feed Structure

Mash feed is the most commonly used feed throughout the world. Layer hens tend to eat the larger particles avoiding the fine particle s which is where most of the key nutrients are. Therefore, it is vital for successful nutrition to have a uniform particle structure. It is even more important in non-beak treated birds. Crumble and pellet forms can be used as long as the structure holds in the feeding system of the birds and it doesn’t become a fine particle mash.

Feed Quality

Nutrients

Good information is needed to formulate a realistic diet. A combination of available literature, wet chemistry methods and/or

NIR

is necessary to generate an updated matrix of the raw materials we use.

Microbiology

There are no specific guidelines in place, however the lower the contamination, the better the performance parameters. Ensure adequate control measures are in place to prevent microbiological risk factors in the diet.

Oxidation

Oils in the feed mill and fat in the diet are the commonest components of oxidation. The quality control plan of raw materials should include analysis of the oxidation status of oils, evaluating at least two parameters of the available methods.

Mycotoxins

Follow the guidelines available in your country and literature to prevent negative effects on layer hen health and production. Adapt the use of mycotoxin binders to suit the level of risk in the diet and the contamination load in the raw materials.

Antinutritional factor

Good understanding of the antinutritional factors will allow higher or lower inclusion levels of the raw materials.


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