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Effects of Increasing Concentrations of Corn Dried Distiller’s Grains with Solubles on the Egg Production and Internal Quality of Eggs

15 March 2014

Iowa State University Extension

Up to 50 per cent of corn dried distiller’s grains with solubles (DDGS) could be included in the layer's diet without adverse effects, providing digestible amino acid requirements are met in the DDGS-added diets, report Hongyu Sun, Eun Joo Lee, Himali Samaraweera, Mike Persia and Dong U. Ahn in Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 2014.

Summary and Implications

Four diets were formulated to contain 0, 17, 35 or 50 per cent corn DDGS. A total of 240 54-week-old single-comb White Leghorn laying hens were assigned to one of four dietary treatments and fed for a 24-week experimental period.

Two sets of the experimental diets were formulated and each diet was fed for 12 weeks.

Egg production, feed consumption, egg component, yolk colour, Haugh unit during storage times, and shell breaking strength were measured. Egg production, egg weight, egg mass, feed intake, and feed efficiency were adversely affected by the highest level of DDGS in the diet (50 per cent) during the first 12-week period. Once diets were reformulated to include an increased concentration of both lysine and methionine, differences among the dietary treatments were reduced, as the performance of the 50 per cent DDGS diets was greatly improved.

Over the last six weeks of study, no differences in egg production, egg weight and feed intake among the DDGS treatments were found. DDGS diets positively affected the internal quality of eggs during storage. Improved yolk colour and Haugh unit were observed as the dietary DDGS levels increased but the increase in Haugh unit was significant only when the DDGS level was 50 per cent. Shell weight percentage was increased in 50 per cent DDGS diet.

It was suggested that up to 50 per cent of DDGS could be included in the layer’s diet without affecting egg weight, feed intake, egg mass, feed efficiency or egg production as long as digestible amino acids were sufficient in DDGS-added diets.


DDGS are widely used in the US as an economical alternative source for protein, energy and available phosphorus. As the production of bioethanol has increased rapidly in recent years, increased quantity of DDGS becomes available for feed industry.

Corn DDGS have been safely added up to 10 or 15 per cent in laying hen diets without adversely affecting laying performance and egg production.

Recent studies indicated that addition of 20 per cent DDGS in laying hen diets had no adverse effects on egg quality and egg production.

Also, layers fed diets containing 0, 23, 46 and 69 per cent corn DDGS for eight weeks showed that egg production increased linearly, while egg weight decreased linearly as corn DDGS level increased. As a result, egg mass was not influenced by corn DDGS concentration in the diet.

It was also found that yolk colour was improved as DDGS level increased but Haugh unit, eggshell weight, egg components were not influenced by the DDGS concentration in the diets.

This indicated that feeding high concentrations of DDGS to laying hen diets would not have adverse effects on egg production and egg quality. However, it was a short-term study (eight weeks), and the effects of long-term feeding high concentrations of DDGS to laying hens are unknown.

An additional unknown in the use of DDGS with higher dietary concentrations is the possibility of virginiamycin as a residue in the feed ingredient.

Virginiamycin is typically added in ethanol production processes to control the growth of lactic acid bacteria and therefore to prevent potential yield loss of ethanol. Thus, there is a possibility that virginiamycin residues are present in DDGS themselves and diets containing DDGS. Virginiamycin residues are restricted to concentrations of 0.1ppm in poultry products (meat and egg).

The objectives of this study were to investigate the effects of long-term feeding of high-level dietary corn DDGS (up to 50 per cent) on the laying performance, egg components and egg shell quality, yolk colour, and Haugh unit during storage and to explore to possibility of virginiamycin residue in diet containing higher concentrations of DDGS.

Materials and Methods

A total of 240 54-week-old Single-comb White Leghorn laying hens were used. Diets were formulated to have four levels of corn DDGS (0, 17, 35, and 50 per cent) and fed for 24 weeks.

After the first 12-week experiment period, diet formulas were modified by addition of lysine and methionine in an attempt to meet the production requirements of laying hens fed the 50 per cent DDGS diets.

Virginiamycin residue in the DDGS diets was determined using the bioautograph technique assay and the plate assay of virginiamycin.

Hen performance was determined by egg production, egg weight, egg mass, feed consumption and feed efficiency (Table 1).

Internal quality of egg was determined by measuring yolk colour, Haugh unit, egg components and shell breaking strength (Table 2).

Table 1. Effects of diets with various levels of corn DDGS on laying rate, egg mass, egg weight,
feed intake, feed efficiency and bodyweight change during the 24-week feeding1
ItemDDGS diets (%)SEM
Egg production, % 87 a 83 b 84 ab 62 c 1.1
Egg mass, g/hen/day 56.0 a 51.8 b 53.6 ab 39.1 c 0.9
Egg weight, g/egg 64.7 a 63.3 bc 64.0 ab 62.6 c 0.4
Feed intake, g/hen/day 104.4 a 104.2 a 106.0 a 92.2 b 1.1
Feed efficiency, g egg/kg feed 531.6 a 487.6 b 501.9 b 431.8 c 6.9
Bodyweight2 (kg)          
- start 1.56 1.50 1.62 1.51  
- end 1.57 1.50 1.62 1.56  
- change 0.02 0.00 0.00 0.05 0.03
a,b,c Means with no common letter in the same row differ significantly (P<0.05).
1 Values are means of data collected every 2 weeks for 24-week period.
2 Values are means of 10 experimental units.


Table 2. Effects of corn DDGS on egg internal quality (yolk colour, Haugh units
and egg composition) during 24-week feeding period 1
  Haugh unit 3Components 4
  Storage timeWeight %
TreatmentsYolk colour 20 weeks1 week2 weeks3 weeksYolkAlbumenShell
0% DDGS 5.5 d 80.5 b 76.4 b 73.7 b 72.4 b 26.5 63.7 9.8 b
17% DDGS 7.0 c 81.8 b 78.0 b 75.6 b 73.7 b 26.8 63.4 9.8 b
35% DDGS 7.9 b 82.3 b 78.3 b 76.0 b 74.3 b 26.8 63.4 9.9 b
50% DDGS 8.7 a 85.3 a 82.3 b 79.9 a 78.2 a 26.5 63.3 10.1 a
SEM 0.12 0.77 0.79 0.84 0.83 0.20 0.24 0.08
a,b,c,d Means in the same column with different letters differ significantly (P<0.05).
1 Values are means of data collected every 2 weeks during 24-week feeding period.
2 Yolk colour score ranges from 1 to 10, n=600
3 Haugh unit equation: 100*log(height-0.01*5.6745*(30*weight 0.37-100) + 1.9), n=150.
4 Values are means of 600 eggs

March 2014

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