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Layer Hybrids React Differently to Fibre Source

25 April 2013

SWEDEN - Layers in enriched cages frequently pecked at straw pellets provided with the feed or in letter bath, report researchers based in Uppsala but the two hybrid lines studied behaved differently in their pecking behaviour and in terms of eggshell strength.

Litter may constitute a significant source of insoluble fibre to laying hens, according to Robin Kalmendal and colleagues at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala but they found that there were marked hybrid differences in the interaction with litter.

In their paper in Journal of Applied Poultry Research, they explain that poultry may obtain fibre from the feed or from the ingestion of, for example, fibrous litter materials.

Earlier studies show that insoluble fibre may stimulate digestion and exert a calming effect on laying hens. Fibre may also influence the metabolism of minerals and fat, which might affect egg quality.

In this paper, the Uppsala-based scientists describe the effects of two means of fibre supply on production performance, feather cover and egg quality in Lohmann Brown (LB) and Lohmann Selected Leghorn (LSL) hens housed in furnished cages between 20 and 60 weeks of age.

Insoluble fibre was supplied by either including three per cent ground straw pellets in the feed or by substituting the sawdust in the litter bath with crumbled straw pellets.

Overall, hens frequently pecked at the litter but litter bath occupation, litter pecking and litter intake were higher in LB than in LSL. In LB, more crumbled straw pellets were consumed from the litter bath than sawdust.

Compared with the control, adding straw pellets to the feed reduced egg shell thickness in LB but not in LSL.

Otherwise, treatments had no significant effects on production performance, egg quality or feather cover, Kalmendal and colleagues noted.


Kalmendal R., F. Johansson and H. Wall. 2013. Effects of fiber supply in furnished cages on performance, egg quality, and feather cover in 2 egg-laying hybrids. J. Appl. Poult. Res. 22(1):109-117. doi: 10.3382/japr.2012-00641

Further Reading

You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.

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