Significant Genetic Progress at Novogen

The results already seen in the field and the expectations for the latest generations (2012-2013) of the Novogen products are presented in the company's latest newsletter.
calendar icon 19 October 2012
clock icon 6 minute read

The technical performance of the Novogen flocks in the field fully confirms that Novogen is a serious player in the selection of layers offering a genetic solution for the different market requirements. The Novogen Brown and Novogen White are now well-recognised for their excellent performance for as well as egg production and egg quality as feed efficiency.

After several years of gathering field results, the genetic progress is very clear. This validates the company's choice for an innovating and efficient selection programme, based on a mix of selection in colony cages and individual cages focussing on four main criteria:

  • Egg quality
  • Longevity of the flocks through a better persistency and liveability
  • Feed efficiency
  • Ability to adapt to different conditions

In addition, the genetic progress achieved on our R&D farms being validated by several tests under field conditions predict a significant improvement in the years to come.

Constantly Improving Egg Quality

As already mentioned many times, the egg quality is an essential criterion in the selection programme of Novogen to assure an excellent quality from the beginning till the end of a production cycle.

At this moment, the genetic progress on the egg shell colour is very significant. In comparison with our competition, the Novogen products have improved much faster. This will allow the Novogen Brown to be equal or even better in egg shell colour than the best breed in the market.

Evaluation of egg shell colour (Internal Test)
A higher value indicates a darker egg shell colour.
(Hatch date: week 28, 2011)

Regarding the egg shell strength, there is a a clear and consistent improvement till the end of lay. This allows customers to keep their flocks longer and longer and to take profit out of the improved persistency of production.

Novogen does not forget the specific work on the egg weight curve searching for the maximum number of saleable consumption eggs, a rapid increase at the onset of lay and to maintain the right weight till the end.

Longevity and Persistency

In terms of productivity, many years ago, Novogen has initiated to use selection cycles of 90 weeks, which are much longer than the normal production cycles in the field. The Novogen genetic lines therefore largely profit from this with a significantly improved persistency, which you can see in the actual product performances.

The work done in colony cages together with the analysis of the birds' behaviour in floor systems continuously improves the longevity of the Novogen layers, especially in the alternative housing systems or enriched cages.

The Novogen Brown and Novogen White are also well-recognised for being a calm bird and the ease of managements in rearing and production, which improves the liveability and feed conversion.

Feed Efficiency

One of the objectives of our selection programme is to improve the productivity by maintaining the same level of feed consumption and lowering the capacity of the birds to become fat at the end of the production cycle, which lowers the feed required for maintenance. This allows a continuous improvement of the feed efficiency without compromising the bird’s reserves.

The selection programme also continues to focus on the persistency of lay till over 90 weeks of age, leading to a constant improvement of the feed conversion. The feed intake capacity remains intact, which does not require using the reserves too much during the laying period. This can then be used for increasing the egg mass produced by hen housed.

Ability to Adapt to Various Field Conditions

This criterion is really a specific feature of the Novogen layers. The sales of the Novogen breeders in all major egg-producing countries is the best proof of its ability to express its genetic potential under many different field conditions: hot climates or moderate climates, open-sided houses or environmentally controlled houses, in cages of alternative systems and with different types of feed used.

The originality of Novogen’s selection programme lies in its ability to challenge some basic principles of selection to what had been used in other companies. Novogen's approach on the criteria of liveability and behaviour in rearing and production are the best examples through a mixed selection program using colony and individual cages and an analysis of the behaviour on the floor of the different lines.

The Company's original way of thinking and expertise are the main ground for all work done on the selection criteria, allowing the genetic progress seen on its test farms and on commercial farms in the field.

Over the last 25 years, the selection for productivity has led to an increase of 70 eggs and 5kg of egg mass at 70 weeks. At the other side feed efficiency, expressed as kg of feed per kg of eggs produced, has gone from 3 to 2. This gain is enormous if one considers that feed costs are about 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the total production costs. Such progress demands a continuous adaptation of the management techniques and feed in the rearing and production period.

Controlling Feed Intake

During the 10 first weeks, the pullets do not control their feed intake related to the energy content of the feed. Hence, in this period any increase of energy in the feed stimulates the growth of the birds.

That is why it is recommended to use a high-energy feed during the first five weeks of the rearing period. This promotes the consumption because of the easier uptake and the reduction in eating time. This improves as well as the growth of the pullet as the feed conversion.

Pullets are grain eaters and their consumption depends on the presentation, and in particular the particle size of the feed. As from five weeks of age, the recommendations are as follows:

  • Particles <0.5mm: 15 per cent maximum
  • Particles >3.2mm: 10 per cent maximum

At least 75 per cent to 80 per cent of the particles should have a size between 0.5 and 3.2mm.

October 2012
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