Feed Strategy - March 2018 - 24
24 ❙ FeedStrategy
LAYING HEN NUTRITION
tions. The extent to which external temperatures are of
influence will depend on ventilation and heating provision in the house. Free-range birds also must contend
with changing weather conditions. Colder temperatures
increase the bird's maintenance requirements for energy, while high temperatures can reduce feed intakes.
Therefore, the country and area of production will influence a hen's dietary requirements.
Nutritional guidelines are available for each breed,
with specifications linked to feed intakes. It is therefore
important to know what the hens are eating on a particular
farm to tailor the diet accordingly. These can form the
basis of the hen's diet; with further amendments related to
specific housing systems, egg markets or climatic conditions. Specific management guides for keeping cage-free
hens are also produced by genetics companies.
With cage-free production, there is much greater
variability, dependent on many environmental factors.
Producers need to get to know their houses and flocks -
working closely with feed companies to tailor nutritional
specifications. As for all laying hens, production data
should be monitored closely, to change diets at the optimal
time. In this way, cage-free production can be optimized,
egg size controlled and egg quality ensured. ■
Zoe Kay is an independent consultant providing technical services to the animal health and nutrition industry. She
can be reached at email@example.com.
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