Nutrient requirements of egg laying chickens

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Modern layer hens

The intake of nutrients is defined by the nutrient levels in the feed and the amount of feed consumed. Nutrient requirements of egg laying chickens is outlined below.

Feed consumption

There are a number of factors that influence voluntary feed intake (discussed in the section on feed intake). Table 1 provides data on typical feed consumption for modern brown-egg laying hens in relation to target body weight. From Week 18, hens start to enter their laying period, reaching peak of lay around 32 weeks of age, and typically maintaining egg production until 65-68 weeks of age. Feed intake will increase to a steady level of 100-105 grams per day and hen body weight will reach a mature level of 1700-1800 grams.

 

 

Table 1. Body weights and associated feed consumption for a brown-egg laying breed during the growing period

Age (wk) Body weight (g) Feed consumption (g/bird/day) Age (wk) Body weight (g) Feed consumption (g/bird/day)
1 70 13 10 870-970 56
2 115 20 11 960-1080 61
3 190 25 12 1050-1117 66
4 280 29 13 1130-1250 70
5 380-390 33 14 1210-1310 73
6 480-500 37 15 1290-1370 75
7 580-620 41 16 1360-1430 77
8 680-750 46 17 1500-1540 80
9 770-860 51

Source: Hy-Line Variety Brown Commercial Management Guide 2009

Growing period nutrition recommendations

Chicks require a diet that can provide the nutrients needed for rapid growth and feather development. Chicks are given relatively high levels of energy, protein and the vitamins and minerals for the starter period. Once the chicks are fully feathered their energy requirements are reduced. Feeding management for layer pullets aims to maintain a growth rate that will lead to the pullet reaching sexual maturity at the desired age while avoiding obesity. The stage at which a pullet will start laying eggs is affected by age, bodyweight and day length. On a percentage basis, layer pullet diets have lower energy and protein levels than chick diets. Different breeders recommend different feeding strategies for their birds, including the number of different diets fed during the pullet growing stage. Many breeders recommend a pre-lay diet that increases some of the nutrient levels, such as calcium, that will be required by the bird when it begins to lay eggs. Table 2 provides data on typical nutrient levels for layer diets for the growing period.

Table 2. Growing period nutrition recommendations

Nutrient  Units   Starter
0 – 6 wks
Grower
6 – 12 wks
Developer
12 – 15 wks
Pre-Layer
15 wks – Prod.
Protein  % Min 20.0 17.50 15.50 16.50
Metabolisable Energy  Mj/Kg 11.5-12.4 11.5-12.6 11.3-12.4 11.4-12.4
Metabolisable Energy  Kcal/Kg   2750-2970   2750-3025   2700-2970 2725-2980
 Kcal/Lb 1250-1350 1250-1370 1225-1350 1235-1350
Lysine  % Min 1.10 0.90 0.66 0.80
Methionine  % Min 0.48 0.41 0.32 0.38
Methionine + Cystine  % Min 0.82 0.71 0.58 0.65
Tryptophan  % Min 0.20 0.19 0.18 0.19
Threonine  % Min 0.73 0.55 0.52 0.55
Calcium  % Min 1.00 1.00 1.00 2.75*
Av Phosphorus  % Min 0.45 0.43 0.42 0.40
Sodium  % Min 0.18 0.18 0.18 0.18
Chloride  % Min 0.18 0.18 0.18 0.18

*At least 30-65% of the added limestone should have a minimum particle size of 2250 Microns.

Source: Hy-Line Variety Brown Commercial Management Guide 2009

Nutrient levels for layer diets

The aim of layer diets is to optimise egg production (in terms of egg numbers, egg size or egg mass), provide the nutrition required to safeguard health and maintain the desired bodyweight. As with layer pullets, different breeders recommend different feeding strategies for their birds, including the number of different diets fed during the laying stage. Calcium is increased for egg shell formation. Table 3 provides data on typical nutrient levels for layer diets.

Table 3. Examples of layer diets (at 100 grams per day intake level)

Nutrients Units 1-32 wks 32-44 wks 44-55 wks > 55 wks
Metabolisable Energy MJ/kg 11.60-11.97 11.41-11.97 11.20-11.97 10.68-11.83
kcal/kg 2770-2860 2725-2860 2675-2860 2550-2825
Crude protein  % 19.80 17.50 17.00 16.00
Lysine  % 1.02 0.93 0.89 0.83
Methionine  % 0.51 0.46 0.41 0.38
Linoleic acid  % 1.10 1.60 1.60 1.60
Calcium  % 4.40 4.25 4.50 4.75
Av.phosphorous  % 0.48 0.40 0.36 0.35

Source: Hy-Line Variety Brown Commercial Management Guide 2009

Feed intake increases to 100 grams per day

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