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 and developing their bones while they are starting 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

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.

Priming the poultry gut to deal with stressors

Research sheds light on how nutritional interventions can modulate gene expression of a key pathway in the poultry gut to increase the bird’s capacity to cope with stressors.

Stress-related decreases in productive and reproductive performance of poultry cause substantial economic losses. In poultry the gut is highly responsive to stressors from the feed and the environment. Under commercial conditions, birds are exposed to a variety of nutritional and environmental stressors. This will lead to stress reactions such as oxidative stress, inflammatory responses and reduced gut integrity on the cellular and gut level, which will increase maintenance energy requirements.

On top of that stressors may negatively affect feed intake, such that altogether performance and efficiency in birds can drop significantly. In laying hens oxidative stress can also accelerate the aging process of the ovaries and impair liver function, which can affect laying persistence and egg quality at the later stages of the laying cycle.

Methods developed to improve the measurement of the underlying mechanisms via molecular markers can lead to a better understanding of how the reactions can be manipulated to reduce the impact on bird performance.

Improving the adaptive ability of birds

By improving the adaptive ability of animals to stressors it is possible to substantially decrease negative consequences of various stresses in poultry production. Researchers consider changes in gene expression to be of great importance for adaptation to stressors, and hence key to the development of techniques for managing stress reactions in the animal. Certain molecular pathways responsible for the transcription of genes for enzymes involved in the protection from the effects of stressors on the cellular level play a vital role in the adaptive ability of birds. A better understanding of these pathways and the development of ways to track and measure changes in their key indicators is paving the way to support them by nutritional means for greater resilience in birds. Certain bioactive components derived from plants are promising candidates for nutritional solutions, because they also play key roles in similar pathways in plants to enhance the plant’s ability to cope with stressors threatening its survival.

Underlying mechanisms to adaptive capacity

Oxidative stress is one of the most common stress reactions on the cellular level in the animal. It is characterized by excess production of free radicals (ROS), which exceeds the ability of the bird’s antioxidant defence system to neutralise them.

In recent years great attention has been paid to the transcription factor Nrf2 and scientific data indicate that Nrf2 activation is one of the most important mechanism to prevent/decrease stress-related detrimental changes. Nrf2 is a transcription factor that responds to oxidative stress by binding to the antioxidant response element (ARE), which initiates the transcription of antioxidant enzymes.

These enzymes contribute to the improvement of the bird’s antioxidant defence system and reduce oxidative stress on the cellular level. They are also known to block Nf-kB resulting in protection against inflammation. However, when stress is too high, leading to a free radical concentration higher than the threshold for cells, other transcription factors including NF-kB become predominant, which increases inflammation. Research suggests, that the threshold could be increased by nutritional means making the pathway more robust under stress and reducing oxidative stress and inflammatory responses.

Recent evaluation of nutritional intervention

Research in broilers carried out by the Agricultural University of Athens, evaluated a gut agility activator as a new nutritional intervention to improve the adaptive capacity of birds for greater resilience to stressors. It contains a combination of bioactive substances derived from herbs and spices designed to reduce the negative impact of stressors on bird performance.

In this trial analyzing tissue samples from different segments of the bird’s gut was done to study the relative expression of genes related to antioxidative enzymes and inflammation. It was discovered that adding the gut agility activator to the diet up-regulated gene expression of antioxidative enzymes belonging to the NrF2/ARE pathway and down-regulated NF-kB1 expression. Additional analysis carried out in the same study demonstrated that this coincided with increased levels of total antioxidant capacity in the gut. However, the positive effect of the gut agility activator was dependent on the inclusion level and segment of the gut.

Commercial implications

New and powerful analytical methods are catalysing the progress in our understanding of the mechanics of action of certain feed additives. The current research findings suggest, that it is possible to boost the bird’s capacity to adapt efficiently to stressors, by adding a gut agility activator to the feed. In combination with performance data from commercial trials in the presence of stressors (such as heat, high production level and mycotoxins), there is evidence that the gut agility activator offers a solution to help reduce the impact of stressors on performance under commercial conditions.

Producers looking for a more consistent performance in response to their feeding programs or to sustain longer production cycles e.g. in the laying hen by natural means could benefit economically from this. However, this research alongside previous research also demonstrates the importance of testing and optimizing inclusion levels of active substances derived from herbs and spices, for them to be part of commercially viable solutions in cost-effective diets.

by Gwendolyn Jones, published in Poultry World, 2019

Related articles on poultry gut

Scientific abstract presented at the gut health symposium 2019

Webinar: Poultry Health and Nutrition 

2020 already – Anco is VIP guest at the New Year’s welcome in Vienna

This month we were invited by the Lower Austrian Federal Economic Chamber to their 2020 New Year’s Welcome as a VIP company for having received the Born Global Champion award in 2019. The event took place in the impressive Palais Niederösterreich in Vienna. We were excited to meet other prize winning and successful Austrian companies at the event and to be given a traditional token of luck for the New Year by the Austrian chimney sweepers. 2020 definitely will be a good year now.

Some of the cornerstone initiatives that were highlighted for the success of the Austrian business economy included innovative apprenticeship schemes and those supporting a cleaner environment, such as innovations for renewable energies.

The event also reminded us that we are already at the beginning of the 5th year of Anco being in business. As they say, time flies when you are having a good time. We have come a long way since the beginning of an idea. Last year in April we were awarded for Born Global Champion, which already marked many budding business relationships and partnerships on a global level. Fast forwarding 9 months on from that we can say that what was budding before has really started to blossom and new Anco buds appeared on the global map.

We would like to thank everybody that has supported us to get where we are today and hope that over the coming years of the new decade, we can celebrate new milestones, enjoy our current friendships and build new ones around the world.

Related articles

Born Global Champion Award for ANCO – 4Gamechangers Festival

IPPE 2020 – Visit the Anco booth for resilience in the new decade

Another year, another IPPE in Atlanta. However, what’s new is that IPPE 2020 is at the start of a new decade. Speak to the Anco team at booth A237 to find out how you can support your poultry production system for a more resilient decade.

The poultry industry is facing sweeping changes in climate, demographics, technology, markets and regulations. In the new decade change is most likely to happen even more frequently and faster. One of the big questions for the 2020s certainly will be how poultry producers can keep up and adapt to the rapid pace of change.

Developing greater resilience of a poultry production system to cope with challenges and change starts with the resilience of birds. Improved resilience in birds can be achieved through new breeding goals, but also by management and nutritional means.

More resilient birds will certainly be beneficial for profitability in the face of having to adapt to a hotter climate, a lack of qualified labour and a requirement to reduce the use of antibiotic growth promotors. For egg producers it can also help to facilitate longer laying periods to reduce production costs and environmental impact of the production system.

Come and see the Anco team and learn about how to keep your birds agile for greater resilience.

Where to find us

The Anco team will be present at the IPPE 2020 in Hall A booth 237. We look forward to welcoming you and learn about what matters most to you in the 2020s.
Link to IPPE floor plan

Podcast episode to listen to while you travel

We also have just the right Keep agile Keep farming podcast episode for you to listen to on your way to the IPPE. Podcast episode – 2020s challenges shaping global animal production

About Anco FIT Poultry

The gut agility concept of Anco FIT Poultry increases the ability to adapt to nutritional and environmental stressors more efficiently. As a result, birds are more resilient in the face of stressors and the impact of stressors on performance is reduced.

Poultry producers are applying Anco FIT Poultry to chicken feed to stay competitive when reducing the use of antibiotic growth promotors and to increase consistency and persistency in high performing birds.

Related articles

2020s challenges – opinions from the poultry industry
Commercial experience with Anco FIT Poultry and mode of action
Priming the poultry gut to deal with stressors
Animal Resilience – Harnessing the power of plant resilience

Thailand –Protech Animal Health seminar for egg producers

Egg producers in Thailand were interested to learn about the benefits of increasing resilience in laying hens with the gut agility activator Anco FIT Poultry. A seminar organized by Protech Animal Health co. ltd, Anco distributor in Thailand, was well attended.

Dr. Sasitorn Tungkanasing, product manager at Betagro comments: “We were happy to see such great interest in the gut agility concept from Anco. It gives us confidence for our plans in 2020. We are now following up with the leads from this event and looking forward to be a source of help to them to support laying persistence for more profitable egg production.”

The event included a presentation from Professor Dr. Theerawit Poeikhampam, Faculty of Agriculture Kasetsart University on Management and feeding techniques for laying hens in the summer season.

Michael Eder, managing director at Anco, introduced the science behind Anco FIT Poultry and practical experience with applying the product to laying hen diets. The data in his presentation demonstrated how Anco FIT Poultry can benefit laying hens in the critical early laying period and can help to sustain higher egg production in the later stages of egg production.

Thailand is the third biggest producer of hen and duck eggs in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia and Malaysia. Thai consumers prefer brown eggs, so brown laying hen breeds are predominantly used as the breed of choice for commercial egg production in Thailand.

Related articles

Egg producers gearing up for quality pullets in Chile
Experience with Anco FIT Poultry is growing globally 
Strategies for greater robustness and laying persistency in layers

Season’s greetings from the Anco Team

There is nothing quite like Christmas – the celebration, the decoration, and the pure excitement. Follow your joy this holiday season and in the new year.

As we look back upon the past year, we would like to acknowledge those who have helped us shape our business. Thanks for a great year, and we wish you all the best as you embark on 2020.

Looking forward to connect with you again in the New Year

Your
Anco Team

2020s challenges – opinions from the poultry industry

We are on the cusp of a new decade and we were interested to hear what others thought would be the major challenges for animal production in the 2020s. Feeding for adaptive capacity could be one way to support resilience in birds that is needed to cope with some of these challenges.

Agriculture is a highly volatile industry in itself and on top of that is facing sweeping changes in climate, demographics, technology, regulations and business environment like any other industry of this era. Everything is already moving at a rapid pace and things are likely to only get faster over the coming new decade. One of the big questions for the 2020s certainly will be how poultry producers can keep up and adapt to the rapid pace of change in all those areas.

Here are some of the thoughts on 2020s challenges for the poultry industry in respective countries from delegates at a recent international animal production conference in Vienna:

“Meeting the demand for antibiotic-free production, which is driven by consumer demand, not legal action” Animal Feed Producer, USA

“It is important to find ways to deal with the increasing complexity in poultry production systems and to gain a better understanding of resilience.”, Antibiotic-free egg and broiler producer, Brazil

“Reducing the amount of manure production and use of coccidiostats”, Nutritionist, Poland

Listen to more thoughts on this from peers in the first Episode of the Keep Agile Keep Farming Podcast.

Current challenges expected to increase in the 2020s

  • At this year’s IPPE conference in Atlanta some of the discussions highlighted the lack of qualified labour in poultry production. Coupled with the fact that it is an aging industry and many will retire within the next decade, labour shortages could become an even bigger problem over the next decade.
  • More and more egg producers are facing the challenge to facilitate longer laying periods in laying hens to become more economical and meet environmental standards.
  • Predictions for further increases in temperatures in many parts of the world due to climate change, are calling for effective ways to reduce the impact of heat stress on birds or breed for climate resilient birds to maintain production efficiency and reduce mortality in birds.

Nutritional management strategy: Feeding for adaptive capacity

Novel feeding strategies designed to support the adaptability of birds to cope with stressors naturally could be a way of supporting resilience in broilers and laying hens.

Improved resilience means, that the impact of stressors, such as heat, change of diets, flocking density on animal performance and wellbeing will be lower. This will also mean reduced fluctuations in performance and that animals are generally easier to manage.

On the one hand this could reduce the requirement of labour input and on the other hand also facilitate the reduction in use of antibiotic growth promotors.

On the cellular level the animal’s exposure to stressors will increase the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can lead to oxidative stress. It can also lead to an increase in inflammatory responses all of which will come at a price of reduced energy available for growth or egg production. It can also cause damage and increased susceptibility to disease and metabolic disorders in vital organs for production, such as the liver, gut and ovaries.

Thus, finding ways to reduce those stress reactions in birds by nutritional means could help to enable longer profitable production cycles in laying hens. Many egg producers are currently aiming to increase laying periods in laying hens not only for economic reasons but also to fulfill environmental standards. An increase of 10 weeks in egg production could mean that 1g of nitrogen could be saved per dozen eggs. This can significantly reduce the nitrification impact of egg farms, which is especially important in nitrate sensitive areas. On top of that longer laying cycles lead to a lower carbon footprint per egg.

Nutritional solution – gut agility activator

Anco Animal Nutrition Competence developed the first gut agility activator on the market for poultry production. The botanical adaption formula in Anco FIT Poultry was specifically developed to support the bird’s adaptive capacity to stressors. The product has been proven to improve the resilience of broilers in the face of stressors such as heat and mycotoxins and improve laying persistency in layers in the late laying period under commercial conditions.

Related articles

Experience with Anco FIT Poultry and mode of action

How to advance your birds from doing great to agile 

Animal resilience – harnessing the power of plant resilience

US Poultry Industry challenged by labor issues

Vandana, G.D. and Sejian, V. (2018). Towards identifying climate resilient poultry birds. Journal of Dairy, Veterinary & Animal Research

 

Keep Agile Keep Farming – first podcast episode

The first episode of the Keep Agile Keep Farming Podcast is out. Looking at the challenges for animal production in the 2020s, it sets the scene for topics of discussion in some of the upcoming episodes.

We asked animal producers, vets and consultants from different countries on what their thoughts are on the challenges for their markets. On top of that we looked at the predictions influencers and decision makers with a wider global impact on agriculture are making and some interesting statistics on farm demographics.

Listen to the first episode of the Keep Agile Keep Farming podcast

In upcoming podcast episodes we will initiate lively and thought-provoking debates on issues that matter to adaptability in farming.  Keep Agile Keep Farming Trailer

Learning is key to keeping agile and we can also learn a lot from each other. We want to connect you to other farmers, who might be going through the same challenges as you and collectively build knowledge and develop new ideas on how to best respond to challenges and change.

It always pays to look at problems from a fresh perspective. So, we will be inviting experts from different fields  to share their knowledge with you.

We hope you like our first episode and look forward to keeping you agile and keeping you farming with future episodes.

Sign up to our monthly newsletter to find out the release of upcoming podcast episodes.

Feeding sows and piglets for piglet resilience to weaning stress

How piglets cope with weaning stress has a significant impact on their subsequent performance. A commercial sow trial supervised by the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil evaluated piglet pre-and post-weaning performance in response to a feeding regime involving the gut agility activator Anco FIT.

Stressors at weaning

During the weaning process the pig is subjected to a number of different stressors: Abrupt separation from the sow, transportation and handling stress, change in diet, social hierarchy stress, co-mingling with pigs from other litters, change in environment, increased exposure to pathogens, and dietary or environmental antigens.

What matters is how the piglet adapts to the weaning stress

The piglet must adapt to the above stressors rapidly in order to be productive, healthy and efficient. On the cellular and gut level, the stressors at weaning will cause stress reactions, such as oxidative stress, reduced gut integrity, reduced feed intake and inflammatory responses. The extent of these reactions will determine the impact of weaning stress on subsequent health and performance of the piglet. This means that managing the piglet to reduce the stress reactions, will lead to a more resilient pig, i.e. lower fluctuations in performance and better health.

Nutritional solution for greater resilience

A gut agility activator is a feed solution designed to help the animal to adapt to stressors more efficiently by nutritional means. Part of its formula is a combination of bioactive compounds derived from herbs and spices known to reduce common stress reactions, such as antioxidative stress and reduced gut integrity.

Feeding the gut agility activator to highly prolific sows during lactation is expected to improve energy available for milk production due to reducing the extent of stress reactions in sows. As a result pre-weaning piglet growth is better, which again helps the piglets to be stronger at weaning.

In the post weaning diet for piglets, the gut agility activator is expected to help reduce the stress reactions in response to weaning stressors on the cellular and gut level in piglets. This should then increase the energy available for growth, since the stress reactions would normally increase maintenance energy and make piglets more susceptible to disease.

Evaluation of a gut agility activator on a sow farm in Brazil

The animal science department of the University of Sao Paulo evaluated the gut agility activator Anco FIT in a feeding program designed to improve adaptation to weaning in piglets in a commercial sow farm.

Experimental design

100 sows (PICxCamborough) were split into two groups 14 days pre-farrowing. One group was fed a control corn-soy diet and the other group was fed the control diet including 1kg/t of Anco FIT until the end of lactation. Average litter size per sow after fostering was 14 piglets. Piglets were weighed after fostering at birth and at weaning (26.5 days). Piglets stayed within groups post weaning. Piglets from sows fed Anco FIT received Anco FIT in their diets post weaning. Both groups of piglets were weighed at day 22 and day 33 post-weaning.

Results

Piglets from sows fed Anco FIT in their diets tended to have higher weaning weights despite being on average 1 day younger at weaning than piglets from control sows. In the post-weaning phase Anco FIT piglets grew significantly faster than control pigs and had significantly higher weights at day 22 and day 33 post weaning (+9.2% and +9.3% respectively). Apart from the fact that piglets tended to have higher weaning weights, this was mainly due to a significantly increased feed conversion ratio in Anco FIT piglets post-weaning.

Conclusion

A feeding strategy comprising the application of the gut agility activator Anco FIT to sows diets in lactation, followed by adding Anco FIT to piglet diets post weaning improved overall piglet performance from birth to day33 post weaning compared to the control feeding regime on a commercial sow farm. The improved FCR seen in Anco FIT piglets in the post weaning period might be explained by Anco FIT helping to reduce stress reactions on the cellular and gut level and thus saving energy for growth.

Related articles

Anco FIT – Managing cost- effectiveness of pig diets
The biological stress of early weaned piglets. Journal of Animal Science, 2013