Laying persistency – 500 eggs in a single laying cycle in 100 weeks

Laying persistency is a major trait currently being developed further in laying hens. The “long life” layer, which will be capable of producing 500 eggs in a laying cycle of 100 weeks, is on the horizon.

In Europe, the priority is to increase egg production by breeding for increased persistency in lay and stability in egg quality so that the laying cycle of commercial flocks can be extended to 90–100 weeks. Breeding programs are particularly focusing on improving laying persistency and egg quality at the end of the laying cycle.

Reducing cost of egg production

Economic reasons play an important role in taking this decision. It means less feed is required per egg. Keeping the birds longer will decrease the financial contribution of the 18-week-old pullet to the cost per table egg. Maintaining egg size and quality beyond 75 weeks and up to a target of 100 weeks can have a big impact on the profitability of a flock. The time required to reach the economic break-even of the hen has increased from 34 weeks in 1998 to 52 weeks in 2016. This indicates that longer production cycles are imperative in a tough economic climate.

More sustainable egg production

Longer laying cycles lead to a lower carbon footprint per egg. Furthermore, it was calculated that around 1 g of nitrogen could be saved per dozen eggs for an increase of 10 weeks in production. This can significantly reduce the nitrification impact of increasing or maintaining production, which is especially important in nitrate sensitive areas.

More efficient use of resources and reduction of waste will help to reduce the environmental impact of egg production and preserve the environment.

First commercial flock achieving 500 eggs in 100 weeks

Free range laying systems are following the trend for longer laying periods. The case for extending free-range laying cycles.

Actually, the first commercial flock achieving 500 eggs in 100 weeks, was a free-range laying flock and was reported in June 2018. It involved a 40 000 Dekalb White flock based in Germany. A key success factor in this was that the farmer likes to learn new things.

How to get to 500 eggs in 100 weeks

A decline in egg numbers combined with a deterioration in shell quality are the main reasons for currently replacing flocks at or around 72 weeks of age.

The benefits of genetic selection for improved persistency in lay and stability in egg quality can only be realized if they are matched by improvements in hen nutrition and careful monitoring of the effects of this process on the health and welfare of the hens.

To extend the laying cycle of commercial flocks, long-term maintenance of the tissues and organs involved in producing eggs is required.

Motivational video for 500 eggs in 100 weeks

Nutrition supporting laying persistency

Genetic progress and longer production cycles have consequences for nutrition. Benefits of genetic selection for improved laying persistency and stability in egg quality can only be realized if they are matched by improvements in hen nutrition. There are three important areas that come to mind, when it comes to supporting laying persistence by nutritional means:

1) Careful management of feed/nutrient intake around start of lay and in early laying period

2) Maintaining organs that are important for egg production healthy, e.g. liver

3) Minimizing common stress reactions such as oxidative stress, inflammatory responses and reduction in feed intake to maintain birds healthy and efficient

Supporting birds to keep a positive nutrient balance in the first 10 weeks of lay will help provide a reserve for mid/late lay egg output and improved shell quality.

With older birds it is important to maintain liver health. Consider supporting liver function with relevant additives, such as choline and vitamin E. Adding certain plant extracts to diets has been shown to improve the antioxidant status in laying hens and can be used to prevent oxidative stress. This then also has the potential to prevent fatty liver hemorrhagic syndrome (FLHS).

Managing nutritional stressors

Monitoring mycotoxins in feed also plays a key role for liver health in layers, as mycotoxins will cause oxidative stress and damage to the liver. Laying hens are more sensitive than other poultry to mycotoxins. A longer life makes laying hens ideal candidates for chronic mycotoxicosis, caused by continuous exposure to low levels of toxins.

Poor bird health and environmental stress affect egg formation and the ability of the hen to maintain persistency. This can be aggravated by nutritional stressors in the diet, such as dietary changes, reduced nutrient digestibility, endotoxins, antinutritional factors and mycotoxins.

Nutritional concepts designed to support gut agility, increase the bird’s capacity to adapt to nutritional challenges and live up to its performance potential, particularly under situations of increased stress. Overall, they are a sustainable alternative to help reduce the use of antibiotics in poultry diets, whilst maintaining robust and efficient birds for consistency in the cost-effectiveness of diets at high performance levels.

Adding a product including phytogenic components with antioxidative power and designed for gut agility to the late laying period of a commercial ISA Brown parent layer flock, improved the persistency in lay compared to birds on a control diet.

Recommendations from breeding companies

Feeding laying hens to 100 weeks of age – Lohmann

How to feed layers for a longer production cycle and high performance – Dekalb

Progress in Layer Genetics Longer production cycles, a genetic perspective – ISA

Summer 2018 – Anco Times

Are you ready for your summer 2018 vacation? This year’s Anco Times Ebook includes a map with vacation destinations close to Anco FIT distributors across the world.

Check out page 4 in the 2018 Anco Times and find an Anco FIT distributor that is closest to your vacation destination.

Read our Summer 2018 Anco Times here and get access to the following technical articles:

For better FCR invest in anti-oxidative capacity.

Diets that keep your cows agile for high milk quality.

How cows can adapt to DON.

3 ways to reduce the impact of DON on milk profits

For more bedtime reading you can also take a look at our Summer 2017 Anco Times Ebook.

We hope you enjoy your summer break and come back with lots of good memories.

Antioxidative power for your antibiotic-free feed strategy

Certain phytogenic feed additives can support high feed efficiency in ABF (antibiotic-free) feeding strategies due to their high antioxidative power. Recent studies indicate a positive relationship between increased anti-oxidative capacity in broilers induced by certain plant extracts in feed and improved feed efficiency.

Link to related article Improve broiler feed efficiency with antioxidative capacity

Agile power of plants

Through a multitude of bioactive substances, with a variety of adaptive properties plants are very well equipped to be polyvalent to different stressors and to prevent their negative impact. Bioactive substances derived from plants have also shown to support humans and animals to adapt to stressors more adequately and help counteract some of the negative physiological and metabolic side effects. Applying the right combination of plant extracts to feed can therefore help the animal become more robust and reach performance potential more efficiently in the face of stressors, including mycotoxins.

Oxidative stress – a common stress reaction

A common reaction to stressors is an increase in Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) on the cellular level. ROS are produced endogenously by normal metabolic processes, but amounts may be increased markedly by certain stressors, including heat and toxins. Deficiencies of natural protective substances or excess exposure to stimulators of ROS production may result in oxidative stress, which occurs when ROS exceed the capacity of antioxidants. Oxidative stress is a major factor related to the development of inflammatory diseases.

Antioxidative power in herbs and spices

The ROS detoxification process in plants is essential for the protection of plant cells against the toxic effect of ROS. Hence many herbs and spices are rich in antioxidative defense mechanisms. The ROS detoxification systems in plants include enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants. Non-enzymatic antioxidants involved include phenolic compounds, flavonoids, alkaloids, tocopherol and carotenoids. These antioxidant defense systems work in concert to control the cascades of uncontrolled oxidation and protect plant cells from oxidative damage.

Phytogenic feed additives based on extracts and material from herbs and spices with high antioxidative power, can be used to support the antioxidative capacity in animals and make them more resistant to stress factors which would otherwise increase oxidative stress and reduce feed efficiency.

Related articles and scientific abstracts

Improve broiler feed efficiency with antioxidative capacity

Evolution in the evaluation of phytogenics

Effects of dietary inclusion level of a phytogenic premix on broiler growth performance, nutrient digestibility, total antioxidant capacity and gene expression of antioxidant enzymes

 

Assessment of phytogenics is evolving – new article published in All About Feed

Assessment of phytogenics is progressing. Compared to 15 years ago, today phytogenics receive much greater attention for the use in animal feed as a tool in strategies designed to reduce the use of antibiotic growth promotors in animal protein production.

However, surveys have shown that many producers and feed manufacturers are still unsure of the efficacy of phytogenics, because of the perception that products are lacking scientific proof.

A new article looks at the progress made in the evaluation of phytogenics from a scientific and a commercial perspective. Find out what Dr. Kostas Mountzouris, Associate Professor of animal nutritional biotechnology at the Agricultural University of Athens in Greece says on this topic from his experience in the research world.

Read the full article by Gwendolyn Jones online via the following link, published by All About Feed: Evolution in the evaluation of phytogenics.

Relevant scientific abstract published by Dr. Kostas Mountzouris

Effects of dietary inclusion level of a phytogenic premix on broiler growth performance, nutrient digestibility, total antioxidant capacity and gene expression of antioxidant enzymes

 

New article published in Feed Strategy: Improve broiler feed efficiency with antioxidative capacity

Reducing antibiotic growth promotors in animal feed calls for the development of new strategies to improve feed efficiency (FE) in poultry production systems. This represents unique opportunities to explore the biochemical and physiological sources of inter-animal variations associated with FE. Research has demonstrated a genetic link between higher feed efficiency and less mitochondrial ROS (reactive oxygen species) production at the cellular level in broilers.

More recent studies indicate a positive relationship between increased anti-oxidative capacity in broilers induced by certain plant extracts in feed and improved FE.

Read more in this link on page 28: Improve broiler feed efficiency with antioxidative capacity by Gwendolyn Jones, WATT Feed Strategy, April issue

Diets that keep your cows agile for high milk quality

Responsive and adaptive technologies are leading the development for increased agility in how we and machines are operating today. What if we could formulate diets for dairy cows that can help the cow to adapt to challenges in the diet and her environment? We could expect greater and more consistent performance in response to diet formulations.

Find out more in the latest article published in international dairy topics here on page 11 in the link to ”Diets that keep your cows agile for high milk quality”

If you want to watch the trailer video to the article click on the following link: Keep your cows agile

Trailer video for new ANCO Article: Keep your cows agile

View the video trailer below for a new article by Gwendolyn Jones, Anco Animal Nutrition Competence.

Responsive and adaptive technologies are leading the development for increased agility in how we and machines are operating today. Imagine a world where dairy cows can adapt to challenges and stressors for more consistent and efficient production of high milk solid yields and milk quality.

Read the full article:” Diets that keep your cows agile for high milk quality” here,  published in International Dairy Topics by Positive Action, March 2018 issue.

Effects of dietary inclusion level of a phytogenic premix on broiler growth performance, nutrient digestibility, total antioxidant capacity and gene expression of antioxidant enzymes

The inclusion level of a phytogenic premix (PP) (Anco FIT  Poultry) was studied for its effects on broiler growth performance, nutrient digestibility and total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of meat and liver. In addition, gene expression of antioxidant enzymes CAT, SOD and GPx was profiled along the broiler intestine.

A total of 500 one-day-old Cobb broiler chickens were assigned into 4 treatments, with 5 replicates of 25 chickens each. Basal diets were formulated to meet starter (1 to 10d), grower (11 to 22d) and finisher (23 to 42d) growth phase requirements. Depending on PP inclusion level (0, 750, 1000 and 2000 mg/kg diet), treatments were: PP-0, P-750, PP-1000 and PP-2000. Feed and water were available ad libitum.
Data were analyzed by ANOVA, taking the treatment as fixed effect. Statistical significant effects (P≤0.05) were further analyzed and means were compared using Tukey HSD test. In addition, polynomial contrasts tested the linear and quadratic effect of PP inclusion levels.

Growth performance responses did not differ (P>0.05) between treatments. However, there was a trend (P=0.089) for improved FCR by 4.5% in PP-1000 compared to PP-0 at the finisher phase. In addition, trends for improved European production efficiency index were seen for PP-1000 during the finisher phase (P=0.087) and overall (P=0.057). Treatment PP-1000 had the highest carcass (P=0.030) and breast fillet yield (P=0.023). From the digestibility study, PP-1000 had higher AMEn (P=0.049) compared to treatments PP-2000 and PP-0.

The PP inclusion level resulted in higher breast (P=0.005), thigh (P=0.002) and liver (P=0.040) TAC. In particular, breast and thigh TAC increased in a quadratic pattern and reached plateu at PP-1000, whereas liver TAC continued to increase linearly. Gene expression of SOD was significantly up-regulated in the duodenum (P=0.027), jejunum (P=0.026) and ceca (P=0.023) in PP-1000 and PP-750 compared to PP-0. In ceca, CAT expression displayed a quadratic pattern of up-regulation (Pq=0.053) in the same direction with SOD (Pq=0.006).

Overall, this study provides evidence for potential PP-1000 benefits for carcass and breast fillet yield, energy sparing and overall antioxidant capacity in broiler gut and meat.

Researchers of this study

published in the proceedings of the scientific forum IPPE 2018

Konstantinos C. Mountzouris*, Vasileios Paraskeuas*, Eirini Griela*, Andreas Kern# and Konstantinos Fegeros*
*Department of Nutritional Physiology and Feeding, Agricultural University of Athens, 118 55 Athens, Greece
#Anco Animal Nutrition Competence GmbH, Linzer Strasse 55, 3100 Sankt Poelten, Austria

One additional incentive for proper silage management

There are many factors mentioned in textbooks, which you can control to maximize the quality of your corn silage with proper silage management. The timing and conditions at harvesting corn silage as well as minimizing the exposure of silage to oxygen during storage to avoid spoilage are crucial to for the nutritional value of the silage to the dairy cow.

What the textbooks don’t tell you is that a lot of those factors can also contribute to the formation of mycotoxins if not practiced properly. Mycotoxins are produced under favourable conditions by certain types of moulds. However, the hidden danger can be that mycotoxins are present without clear visual signs of mould in the silage.

Quality of 2017 corn silage

Read about what you should know about 2017 corn silage here.

Symptoms for a mycotoxin challenge

Typical symptoms of a mycotoxin challenge in a dairy herd are:
• decreased feed intake,
• reduced milk and milk component yields,
• increase in somatic cell counts
• reduced reproductive performance, including decreased conception rates, increase in irregular heats and ovarian cysts.
• increased incidences of metabolic disorders such as ketosis, retained placentas, displaced abomasum

Providing those symptoms cannot be explained by other nutritional or management short-comings on the farm, the cause are most likely mycotoxins in the feed ration.

Economic impact

Subclinical mycotoxicoses decrease profitability by lowering milk production and quality while increasing expenses from inappropriate veterinary therapies.

So, the risk of mycotoxins is one more incentive for best practice at harvesting and storing corn silage.

Mycotoxins produced in corn silage

Mycotoxins can already accumulate in the crop prior to silage making during growth of the corn on the field and often will not be visible. This level of toxin can then continue to increase during poor harvest conditions and on into storage. The primary toxin producing fungi on corn in the field includes Fusarium.

Several mycotoxins of concern are produced by Fusarium and include:

deoxynivalenol (DON),

zearalenone

and T-2 toxin.

Zearalenone is a mycotoxin, which can cause fertility problems after its ingestion due to its structure being very similar to the hormone oestrogen. DON can have a negative impact on rumen efficiency and hence on milk solid yields. Read more about DON in dairy cows in the following link  How cows can adapt to DON

Frost increases risk of mycotoxins in silage

Corn silage harvested after frost is at even greater risk of toxin contamination. When the corn is chopped and placed in a silo, the frosted and now drier silage is difficult to pack properly. The oxygen level in the silo takes longer to deplete during tilling and the fungus can continue to grow and produce toxin for several days.

Mycotoxins in grass silage

Mycotoxins, such as zearalenone, have also been found in grass silage, however the levels are generally much lower than on corn silage (Driehus et al 2009)

 

Managing the risk of mycotoxins in silage

Pre-harvest events

While silage-making practices impact fungi and mycotoxin levels, environmental conditions likely have the largest impact Environmental conditions, such as excessive moisture, temperature extremes, drought conditions, insect damage, crop systems and some agronomic practices, can cause stress and predispose plants in the field to mould and determine the severity of mycotoxin contamination.

Despite progress made in prevention through breeding of resistant varieties and improvement in agronomic practices hazardous concentrations of mycotoxins may occur as a result of annual weather fluctuations.

Post-harvest management

Excellent silage management can reduce the incidence of mycotoxins. Prevention of mycotoxins in silage includes following accepted silage making practices aimed at preventing deterioration, primarily by quickly reducing pH and the elimination of oxygen (Figure 1 below). This decreases the growth of moulds and mycotoxin contamination.

Figure 1 The 3 major events that make good silage and factors that can affect silage fermentation
(Kung 2000, Tangni et al 2013)

silage management - anco

DM content

DM content of the forage can have major effects on the ensiling process via a number of different mechanisms.
1) Drier silages do not pack well and thus it is difficult to exclude all of the oxygen from the forage mass during the confection of the silo.

2) As the DM content increases, growth of lactic acid bacteria is inhibited and the rate and extent of fermentation is reduced.

3) If the forage is too moist and pH decline is not sufficient, clostridia, which ferment lactic to butyric acid and amino acids to ammonia, might become active. This process results in increases in pH and losses of silage DM content.

Rapid feed-out

When the silo is opened for feeding, oxygen becomes available to the front of the mass and the activity of the yeasts and molds, as a result of survival of fungal spores or a re-colonization of these microorganisms, could reduce aerobic stability of ensiled mass, thus favoring potentially toxigenic fungi development. Silo size should be matched to herd size to ensure daily removal of silage at a rate faster than deterioration. In warm weather, it is best to remove a foot of silage daily from the feeding face. The feeding face of silos should be cleanly cut and disturbed as little as possible to prevent aeration into the silage mass. Silage (or other wet feeds) should be fed immediately after removal from storage. Spoilage should not be fed and feed bunks should be cleaned regularly.

Silage Inoculants

As part of the best ensiling practices the use of an appropriate silage inoculant, depending on various conditions, should be considered.

Regular monitoring
Monitoring the forage quality during the preservation process is the only real way to assess the given situation.

 

References

Cheli et al 2013. Fungal populations and mycotoxins in silages: From occurrence to analysis 

Driehuis et al 2009. Occurrence of mycotoxins in maize, grass and wheat silage for dairy cattle in the 

Gallo et al 2015. Review on Mycotoxin Issues in Ruminants: Occurrence in Forages, Effects of Mycotoxin Ingestion on Health Status and Animal Performance and Practical Strategies to Counteract Their Negative Effects

Tangni E. K., Pussemier L. and Van Hove F. 2013, Mycotoxin Contaminating Maize and Grass Silages for Dairy Cattle Feeding: Current State and Challenges, J Anim Sci Adv 2013, 3(10): 492-511

 

2017 Corn silage: 3 things you should know

Corn silage for both beef and dairy fluctuates between 8-10% of the total corn acres in the US: This year’s corn silage can be expected not to be typical, due to challenging weather conditions that prevailed across different states in 2017.

High variability in quality. Depending on the state, severe drought, heat stress or wet conditions will have a great impact on the quality of 2017 corn silage

Extra sampling is recommended. Due to high variability in the quality of corn silage, producers need to take extra samples after fermentation to track quality levels and the amounts of digestible starch (target for starch content over 30 percent), 30-hour neutral detergent fiber digestibility (target over 55 percent) and 30-hour undigested neutral detergent fiber (target under 45 percent).

In addition to testing for quality and starch, tests should also include mycotoxin analysis due to the higher risk of contamination in 2017 corn silage. Testing results can help when building plans to optimize the crop and the ration.

Check out this video for tips on how to prepare a representative silage sample.

Video on preparing representative silage samples

High levels of mycotoxins have already been reported in 2017 corn in several states in the US. DON levels > 5ppm have been reported in South Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, New York and Pennsylvania corn, whereas aflatoxin levels greater than 100ppb have been reported in Georgia, Texas, North Dakota, Nebraska and Oklahoma. According to the 2003 USDA Crop Production Report, the top ten corn silage producing states are: WI, NY, CA, PA, MN, IA, SD, NE and ID.

For an update on Mycotoxins in 2017 crops and technical information on how cows adapt to DON please watch the video below.