Early laying period- off to a good start in laying hens

The early laying period plays an important role in how a flock will perform and how long laying hens can be kept in production. So, getting hens off to a good start in lay is key to feeding strategies aimed at extending laying cycles. Feeding for adaptive capacity can be a great facilitator to give your laying hens a head-start in the pre-peak phase.

500 eggs in one laying cycle is within reach

Prolonging the laying cycle balances the costs of egg production (e.g. price of pullets and feed) by the earnings of a longer productive period. On top of that it reduces the frequency required to replace hens and to clean houses. As a result of that producers are now aiming to extend the laying period beyond 72 weeks of age. But it is not just to improve the economics of production, it also makes sense in terms of reducing the environmental impact of egg production for more sustainable egg production. Some breeding companies are already reporting flocks with egg production cycles of 100 weeks producing more than 500 eggs. Schothorst Feed Research reported that a flock of Dekalb White hens produced 510 eggs per hen in 100 weeks in October last year. While improved genetics facilitate such ambitious goals, it goes without saying that the right management and nutrition play an important supporting role in this too.

Importance of pre-peak challenges for extended laying periods

The pre-peak period of the laying cycle lasts from the time when hens arrive at the production house (15-18 weeks of age) until the age the laying hens reach peak egg production (24-26 weeks of age). This is a very challenging period for the hens, because they are still growing while they are starting to produce eggs. On top of that the hens are going through many other changes as they transition from rearing pullet to production. This means that they have to adapt to new environments, diets, different lighting as well as having to go through the stresses of transportation. This can result in negative nutrient balances, which can affect performance but can also have longer-term effects for health and laying persistency if it negatively affects bone and liver metabolism. For example mobilization of calcium for eggshell formation from bone can lead to a reduction in skeletal mass of the hen and will reduce shell quality late in late lay. Increasing free radical production in the liver can eventually lead to fatty liver as a result of prolonged oxidative stress, which again can impair egg production and laying persistence. Missed targets in the rearing phase such as target body weight and high uniformity or stressors such as high temperatures and mycotoxins can amplify potential problems.

Feeding for adaptive capacity of hens in the early laying period

To get the laying hens off to a good start at the beginning of the laying period and to correct the effects of suboptimal rearing, nutrient intake should be maximised to prevent the mobilisation of body nutrient reserves at the start of the lay period. This also means that any impact environmental or nutritional stress factors may have on feed intake needs to be minimized. Stress reactions such as oxidative stress, reduced gut integrity and inflammatory responses can all contribute to negatively impact the resilience of the laying hen and can thus further diminish the chances for producers to successfully extend the laying period. For example high gut integrity in the duodenum is crucial to maintaining egg shell quality in longer laying cycles as it is the main site for absorption of Ca and P. Oxidative stress will affect the functioning of the liver and hence the ability to maintain high egg laying rates and egg quality over time. It can also lead to inflammatory responses which can affect energy efficiency of the laying hen.

The gut agility concept in Anco FIT Poultry was specifically developed to increase the capacity of the bird to adapt to challenges more efficiently and to reduces stress reactions that would otherwise reduce the hens performance and potential to sustain longer laying cycles.

Sign up to our newsletter and find out more about experiences with Anco FIT Poultry in diets of laying hens in future articles.

References
Schothorst Feed Research achieves 510,7 eggs

500 eggs in 100 weeks

Kombikorma Russia 2020 – Anco FIT made a winning entry

Anco FIT was in two places at the same time this year. The Kombikorma in Russia was held in the same week as the IPPE in Atlanta. So, the spotlight was on Anco FIT in two continents in the last week of January.

Our distributor for Russia, Safeed part of Noack Group, entered Anco FIT in the traditional contest for best product of the show in the feed section and Anco FIT came out as a winner. Great start to the year in Russia, with hopefully more good things to come.

We like to thank everybody at the team Safeed for supporting Anco FIT at the booth at Komiborma and visitors showing interest.

About Kombikorma

The Kombikorma – Cereals – Mixed Feed – Veterinary (MVC) international trade show takes place in Moscow every year with more than 201 exhibitors.

Additional information

After the IPPE is before the next show

After the IPPE we are already planning ahead for EuroTier 2020, which is approaching fast this year.

However, first we would like to thank everybody who visited our booth at IPPE 2020 for your interest in our company and products. People just popping round to let us know how happy they are with Anco FIT Poultry in the diets for their birds were particularly encouraging and a real boost for us.

Despite the Coronavirus, people travelled from all over the world to come to the IPPE. We had people from at least 20 different countries come to our booth, which shows the international reach of this show. Still the majority came from Latin America and the US.

We hope everybody made it back home safely and is enjoying good health. In times like this we realize just how important health is too us. Thankfully currently health organizations across the world are teaming up to help us keep agile, i.e. increase our ability to adapt to the new virus.

2020 is going to be a very busy year and sets the foundation for a new decade. With that we would like to encourage you to

Keep your birds and yourself agile for more resilience in the face of the challenges the new decade may bring.

Hope to see you again at IPPE 2021.