High Performance vs. Economic Efficiency: Layer Nutrition

5 Things to Know for Nutrition in the Real World

Profitability is essential for any layer farmer and egg producer. Feed prices around the world have increased, some more than double over the past year. Considering that feed can be 70% of the cost to produce an egg, how do farmers maintain profitability when egg prices do not also increase?

1. Know What You Need and What You Don’t

Three fundamental components to any layer diet impact productivity– energy, amino acids and minerals. But how much of each is really necessary? 

Energy – In general, feed 300 kcal per bird, which is the necessary average energy intake requirement of a layer. This can vary slightly depending upon the variety of the bird, egg mass and temperature.

Amino Acids – Know your target for egg weight to better define amino acid intake. For heavier eggs, you need higher amino acid intake per bird per day. Alternatively, there is no need to waste resources and money to feed more amino acids if you do not need heavier eggs. 

For example, the nutrition recommendations in the Hy-Line W-80 India management guide account for the relatively smaller egg weight desired in this market compared to the global average. This diet requires less Lysine, making it 5.5% to 6% less expensive than the nutrition recommendations in the international version of the W-80 management guide. 

Minerals – Understand your sources of minerals and digestibility to allow for accuracy without excesses. The main minerals in the layer diet are calcium and phosphorus.

2. Know the True Cost of Energy Intake vs. Feed Intake

Decreased energy in a layer diet will always lead to increased feed intake. However, this is never an equal exchange. Stocking density, temperature, feather score, and housing layout are all factors influencing the outcome of feed intake. Decreasing energy may or may not be profitable at different ingredient costs. For example, with a 25% decrease in energy, the bird with average stocking density and thermal neutrality can only compensate for 7.47% increase in feed intake, leaving a void of 16.25% in energy intake (Hy-Line International internal study, not published). This means lost production. Depending on the fiber source, it can be more costly to dilute the energy of the diet. Additionally, lower nutrient value creates a higher feed intake, which also creates a higher feed cost. 

3. Protein Reduction vs. Performance

It is possible to have a very significant reduction in the amount of protein. If the amino acids in the diet are balanced, egg mass will continue at expected levels. 
For example, a 16% reduction in protein with proper amino acid balance can be made without affecting the egg mass, while the same reduction in protein without proper amino acid balance can equate to a 36.6% percent change in egg mass (Harms et al., 1982). Given that protein can be the second most expensive nutrient in the diet, finding the right balance can mean substantial cost savings.  It is proven, feasible and even benefits intestinal quality and decreases environmental impact.

4. Additives vs. Cost Reduction vs. Performance

One of the most cost-effective additives is a super-dose or non-starch polysaccharide (NSP) enzymes. The feasibility of this additive super-dose is not a common practice and may change from time-to-time. It is important to know not only the recommendations of the additive supplier, but also to know the economic feasibility of each dose in the reality of feed costs. Enzyme activity is not linear according to the amount included in the feed. The most economically efficient point will be dependent on the ingredient cost according to the geographic location. 

5. Alternative Ingredients – Do They Meet Expectations?

Though it may be tempting to consider alternative ingredients, consider investment cost, anti-nutritional factors, historical composition variation, and more. Alternative ingredients give the major opportunity to reduce costs if you find the right ingredients in the proper circumstance and price. Be very careful with non-traditional ingredients because of potentially low digestibility, composition variability, and many more nutritional anti-factors. When changing ingredients, allow time for birds to adapt their endogenous enzymes. Egg production may decrease slightly while adapting and recovering the loss of production. Prolong the time using the alternative ingredient to lessen the impact. Make sure to use lab analysis for alternative ingredients before incorporating them into the diet.

Know your objectives! If you do not need high egg weight, there is no need to pay for an expensive diet. Decreased energy will always lead to increased feed intake. This may or may not be profitable at different ingredient costs. Hy-Line varieties can be managed with flexible nutrition strategies while still achieving high productivity. 

 2023 Update from the Presidents

The start of a new year is an opportunity to reflect on the previous year and embrace fresh opportunities. Our industry has faced many challenges this year – high energy prices, high inflation, disease, wars, and conflicts. Through it all, you have embraced these difficulties and have adapted to the new norms.

What has not changed is our commitment to feeding mankind. We will remain strong and committed to meeting the future needs of the world through our research efforts. Our layers are in high demand around the world and our world-class logistics, sales, marketing and technical teams remain steadfast to support these efforts.

Sustainability is a fundamental value of Hy-Line and drives our daily quest to develop the world's most efficient, productive egg laying hens. Throughout our organization, we strive to leave a better, more healthy planet for the next generations while helping to feed the world today.

When comparing the Hy-Line layer of today to the performance standards of the Hy-Line layers of 20 or 30 years ago, our genetic selections have naturally led to layers that have a smaller carbon footprint while keeping our customers’ profitability as a priority. You can read more about this in this issue of Innovations.

We are committed to developing the world’s most sustainable laying hens. It enables our global customer base to provide healthy and affordable egg protein to a growing world population, while minimizing environmental impact, preserving our planet’s precious resources for current and future generations. Over 30 years of genetic gain on a global scale prove Hy-Line varieties fed more people, reduced land and water usage, all while yielding more profits back to the customer for every bird.

Innovation and excellence are in our Hy-Line team DNA. We will continue to find ways to exceed expectations and, above all, continue to accelerate our genetic progress across all our layer varieties to drive profitability for our customers.

As always, we wish you success and thank you for your trust. 

Jonathan Cade and Eduardo de Souza Pinto

 Long Distance Day-Olds

Is 8,000 the record for delivery mileage when it comes to commercial layer chicks? Hy-Line UK thinks it might be, with the hatchery’s most distant customer located on the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.

Allan Steen has been producing eggs on the Island since 2013 and has used Hy-Line from the start. Initially he looked at sourcing his flocks a little closer to home from South America, but difficulties with export licenses prevented it.  

Despite the miles involved, according to Allan, the chicks arrive in excellent shape. The chicks' plane journey is more than 16 hours long. “The main consideration when planning the journey is the effect of the wind on the plane’s ability to land,” says Allan. "We need to take seasonal weather patterns into account when ordering the chicks.” 

Although there are numerous backyard flocks on the Island, Allan, with his 2,000 Hy-Line layers, is the only commercial egg producer. He jokes that his operation is almost considered to be part of the Island’s critical national infrastructure!  

(L-R) Allan Steen and partner Kerry with John Widdowson and Louise Long of Hy-Line UK.

 Dr. Dennis Casey Honored by Egg Industry Center

In November, former Hy-Line International president Dr. Dennis Casey was honored by the Egg Industry Center’s Leggacy Maker Award, established in 2021 to recognize individuals who are committed to advancing the egg industry and the mission of the Egg Industry Center. Jeff Henning, Egg Industry Center Advisory Board Chairman, spoke about Dr. Casey's career accomplishments and many contributions to the industry before presenting him with the 2022 award.

(L-R) Dr. Dennis Casey receives the 2022 Leggacy Maker Award from Egg Industry Center Advisory Board Chairman Jeff Henning.

Dr. Dennis Casey was born in Northwest Iowa and grew up caring for a small family flock of birds. Dennis decided to study Agricultural Business at Iowa State University and after graduating with his bachelor's degree, started his first job selling day-old chicks at a company owned by Bob Sparboe. Bob became an important mentor for Dennis, and today Sparboe farms continues as an important producer in the US. Dennis returned to school after being accepted into the poultry breeding program at Iowa State University. He obtained his master's degree and continued on to earn a Ph.D. in poultry genetics. Upon graduation, Dennis started working as a geneticist on the Hy-Line International research farm. In 1974, Dennis was named manager of the company's West Coast distribution and, in 1975, became president of Hy-Line International.

During his time in the layer business, Dennis served the egg industry in many ways, providing his ideas and ingenuity to many boards and organizations. Casey sat on the boards of the Southeastern Poultry and Egg Association (now US Poultry & Egg Association) and the United Egg Producers Allied Industry Council. He helped to form the Midwest Poultry Consortium and served as their chairman for a time. Casey also served as the allied industry advisor to the American Egg Board.

He has been a longtime member of the International Egg Commission. He also is an active investor in several egg operations in the Midwest. Dennis is a partner and former President of Biova, a company created to develop products from egg membranes left behind after harvest in breaking facilities.

Dennis’s contributions to the Egg Industry Center have been significant. He was a founding board member in 2008 and served as chairman of the Egg Industry Center advisory board from 2011 - 2017. During his time with the center’s advisory board, he helped raise substantial funds for the Egg Industry Center’s research endowment fund. This effort has ensured research, that can be applied at the farm level, would continue to occur for the industry for decades to come. To date, 14 institutions across North America have received EIC funds to provide the industry with scientific information on a host of important topics.

After contributing 36 years of service to Hy-Line, Dr. Casey retired in 2007, but continued to work as a consultant for Hy-Line North America and maintained his industry involvement. He continued to serve on boards and offer insight to organizations until 2020.

Throughout Dennis’ career, his dedication has been recognized with many awards. He was inducted into the Iowa State University Department of Animal Science "Hall of Fame" and recognized as the "International Egg Person of the Year" by the International Egg Commission. Dennis holds the Iowa Poultry Association's "Lifetime Membership" award and in 1999 was inducted into the Iowa Poultry Hall of Fame. Dennis has been recognized with the Midwest Poultry Consortium's "Outstanding Service" award and also received the United Egg Producers "Industry Person of the Year" in 2003. In 2012, Casey received the Floyd Andre Award from the College of Agriculture at Iowa State University. This award honors an alumnus who has made outstanding contributions to production agriculture, agricultural business or significantly impacted Iowa agriculture. Dennis clearly did all three. In 2014, Hy-Line International named their new state-of-the-art genetics research farm the Dr. Dennis Casey Research Farm.

Update to Hy-Line France Hatchery Improves Welfare

Hy-Line France has invested 3.8 million euros to enlarge its hatchery facility, with new equipment, additional staff, and a focus on maximizing animal welfare.

Designed in the 70s, the Hy-Line France hatchery was redesigned to adapt to egg sexing, incluing the installation of two CHEGGY machines. The challenge, says Frédéric Masson, Managing Director of Hy-Line France, was to adapt the facility, without disrupting flows or affecting the production process. CHEGGY determines the sex of the embryo in the egg on the 13th incubation day, using hyperspectral measurement technology. The light spectrum differentiates males from females by the color of their down: brown for some, white for others. This non-invasive method does not require perforating the shell and thus eliminates any risk of contamination or injury to the embryo. In addition, this egg sexing technique improves animal welfare, an essential value at Hy-Line France. The process is also ecologically advantageous, as no chemicals are used.

Once identified by CHEGGY, eggs containing female embryos continue their cycle. The male embryos are anesthetized by STUNNY technology using an electrical impulse, which eliminates any sensation of pain when interrupting embryonic development. According to a recent study by the German Consulting Institute for Animal Welfare (bsi Schwarzenbe), this process has been shown to be effective in 99.3% of embryos.

 Hy-Line Around the Globe
China: Hy-Line Sponsors 11th International Poultry Forum China

In July, the 11th International Poultry Forum China 2022 (IPFC) was held in Jinan, China. More than 600 experts, entrepreneurs, and representatives from the broiler and layer industry attended the event. This forum focused on “Sustainable Development of the Poultry Industry.” Bruce Zhou, China Regional Business Manager, gave a presentation on "Updated Progress of Layer Breeding." In 2020, China was the leading egg producer in the world, with 400+ billion eggs and 30+ million tons produced; China egg consumption per capita was 298 eggs, ranking fifth in the world. 

Bruce Zhou, China Regional Business Manager, gives a presentation at the International Poultry Forum China.

Uzbekistan: Toshkent Parranda Upgrades Facilities

Since 2020, Hy-Line distributor Toshkent Parranda has invested USD 8 million in high-tech equipment and new production facilities, including an incubator with a capacity of 700,000 eggs, a new feed mill, and two new parent facilities with a capacity of 42,000 birds. 

In addition, the company's new laboratory can test feed quality as well as complete tests like ELISA, blood count, vaccine activity, and other tests to monitor the immunity of birds.

With these upgrades, Toshkent Parranda can meet the demand of 5.5 million day-old chicks for annual sales in Uzbekistan and neighboring countries. 

Toshkent Parranda's new feed mill (top) and hatchery (bottom).

UK: Feather Cover and Liveability Make Hy-Line the Breed of Choice

Lincolnshire producer Ivory Arden started free range egg production seven years ago with 32,000 birds and the operation, spread over four sites, has since quadrupled in size. She started using Hy-Line three years ago and she was so impressed with the birds' feather cover and liveability, that three of the four farms are now stocked with Hy-Line and Ivory is considering moving completely over to the breed.

“The feather cover has been excellent which is so important, particularly for free range when the birds are on show for all to see,” says Ivory. In fact, her great-looking birds have been featured in a previous calendar produced by the British Free Range Egg Producers Association. Compiled from images submitted by producers, the calendar featured Hy-Line flocks in nine out of the 12 months!

“We’ve also found the Hy-Line very robust and it seems to bounce back from any challenges it has to face and this is reflected in the low mortality,” says Ivory. The farm’s first flock achieved a mortality rate of just 2.5% at depletion aged 78 weeks and Ivory has continued to enjoy similar results. 

Argentina: Cabaña Avícola Feller Marks Company's 65th Anniversary and 25th Hy-Line Anniversary 

Hy-Line and Cabaña Avícola Feller representatives recently gathered to celebrate the company's 65th anniversary and its 25 years as a Hy-Line distributor.



India: Srinivasa Farms Celebrates 5 Years of Partnership

During the technical school at Hyderabad on 21st November, Gustavo Wassermann, Hy-Line Commercial Director, gave recognition for completing 5 years distributorship to Suresh Rayadu, Managing Director,

Srinivasa Farms Pvt Ltd. (L-R) Suresh Rayadu, Managing Director for Srinivasa Farms, accepts a plaque commemorating Srinivasa's 5 years of distributorship from Gustavo Wassermann, Commercial Director for Hy-Line International.

South Africa: Hy-Line Partners to Provide Egg Protein to Malnourished African Children

South Africa, home to 60 million people is a country of extremes. It is a land of breathtaking scenery, eleven official languages, world famous National parks, ultramodern cities, but like so many countries in the world, it is plagued with extreme income disparity where a significant part of the population lives in abject poverty and suffers malnutrition.  The World Bank determined South Africa to be among the most unequal counties in the world with 20% of the population living in extreme poverty with income of less than $2 per day.  Poverty and poor health outcomes go hand-in-hand. Unicef attributes 11.4% of deaths in South African children under five to low body weight. Three out of ten children are stunted, a condition which affects their growth and development (Unicef South Africa). Malnutrition contributes to the vicious cycle of poverty.  This story is in no way unique to South Africa but present worldwide to differing degrees.

With this as the backdrop, Hy-Line International approached Dr. Jim Blessman of Blessman International located in the one of the poorest areas of South Africa in northern Limpopo State.  Twenty years ago, the Blessman and his family left the comforts of a successful medical career in suburban Des Moines, Iowa, USA, drawn to this remote part of the world to undertake the challenge to feed and improve the overall well-being for African children. Through many trials and obstacles, the Blessman’s organization has grown today to feed some 60,000 children via ten food distribution hubs in the country. Seeing ‘our neighbor’ at work in South Africa, Hy-Line International together with Hy-Line South Africa reached out to Dr. Blessman to cooperate with his feeding program with the purpose to add ‘an-egg-a-day’ to the feeding program to further enhance his efforts by enhancing the nutritional content of the meals.  Blessman provides daily meals consisting of a basic grain and vegetable-based diet that the kids receive from Meals from the Heartland, also from Des Moines, which are shipped in container loads over several times per year. As a medical doctor, Dr. Blessman was well-aware of the health benefits associated with egg consumption and was eager to add ‘an egg-per-day’ to enhance the protein and vitamin content of his existing rations.

(L-R) Dustin Blessman and Dr. Jim Blessman at their South Africa facility.

One egg contains 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of healthy fats, 80 calories all while providing:

  • Vitamin A: 6% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)
  • Folate:  5% of the RDA  
  • Vitamin B5: 7% of the RDA
  • Vitamin B12: 15% of the RDA
  • Vitamin B2: 15% of the RDA
  •  Phosphorous: 9% of the RDA
  • Selenium: 22% of the RDA
  • Eggs also contain amounts of vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B6, calcium and zinc

The immediate plan is to run a small pilot ‘proof of concept’ program in which Hy-Line International, Hy-Line South Africa and Blessman International cooperate to provide a minimum of one fresh egg per day to his local feeding hub starting in early 2023 from a flock of Hy-Line Silver Brown ready-to-lay pullets. Phase one of the project will be to establish a robust, scientific study to track the health outcomes of a small cohort of children at Blessman’s nearby Mokopone location with the assistance of US medical professionals with oversight from a South African medical organization into mid-2023. After this ‘practice run’ at which time we are confident that the study is sound, we will launch the official study with an unreached group of children to provide the meal rations plus an egg-a-day from the flock to track and document well-being outcomes.  We anticipate this study will finish by mid-2024 at which time armed with scientific data, we will endeavor to upscale the program to bring the benefits of egg consumption to a much larger population to add egg protein to Blessman’s wider 60,000 child feeding program.

Hy-Line International and Hy-Line South Africa will place the started Hy-Line Silver Brown pullets in January 2023 which will result in eggs in a matter of a few short weeks while offering technical support and advice for best practices to maximize yields from the flock. The project will lean on the expertise of Mr. Bruce Dooyema of Versova Egg company in Iowa, one of the largest egg producers in the US, who is consulting to assure success with the project contributing his vast knowledge and prior experience in Africa on similar projects. We look forward to further develop this project over the next years to improve the lives of under-nourished South African children and demonstrate the power of the egg as part of the solution to reduce world hunger and improve overall health outcomes worldwide.

(L-R) Brittney Roorda, Bruce Dooyema, Dr. Jim Blessman, and Tom Dixon meet at the Hy-Line offices to discuss the “Egg-a-day" program.

 Green Energy Brings Welfare Benefits

Griffiths Family Farms in the UK has installed the world's largest on-farm manure burning plant, as they strive to reduce their carbon footprint, while enhancing environmental and welfare credentials. 

Griffiths Family Farms, as the name suggests, is a family business which spans three generations. It’s a business that has always been at the forefront of innovation and its latest investment includes a combined heat and power (CHP) muck burning plant which is capable of producing around 1MW of electricity by burning the farm’s daily output of 74 tons of poultry manure. The electricity produced will be sufficient to power the entire production site which houses in excess of 1 million barn layers along with pullet rearing facilities. Any surplus electricity will be fed back into the national grid. 

For the burner to work effectively the manure needs to have a moisture content below 40% and this is achieved by directing the warm air produced by the plant to the laying houses, where not only does it dry the manure, but the warmer environment brings welfare benefits in the shape of improved ventilation and litter quality along with reduced ammonia levels. The use of the manure in this way eliminates the previous practice of hauling it by road for spreading on nearby farmland, further reducing the farm’s carbon footprint whilst tackling the environmental challenges associated with manure spreading. A by-product of the burning process is the ash which is rich in phosphate and potassium and will be used in the production of fertilizer. 

Having recently taken the decision to replace the site’s enriched cage system with barn egg production facilities, Hy-Line remains the majority breed choice for the Griffiths. And in a move that could be said to have taken the farm full-circle, earlier this year a flock of Hy-Line W-80’s were housed in one of the new barns, some fifty years or more since head of the family Aled Griffiths built the farm’s first chicken house and stocked it with white birds! Eggs from the W-80s will be marketed by the UK’s leading supermarket and will form part of a retail offer currently dominated by brown eggs.  

 Hy-Line Sustainability: Planet



















Read more about Hy-Line's commitment to sustainability here.

 Hy-Line Profitability Advantage

Hy-Line varieties continue to lead the world in poultry genetics with performance and profitability advantages for its customers. The accelerated genetic progress and customization of lines to best fit local markets, globally, sets Hy-Line above its competitors.

Greater Value for the Egg Producer with Hy-Line Brown

Read more about the Hy-Line Brown Advantage.

No Other Layer Lives Like Hy-Line W-36

Read more about the Hy-Line W-36 Advantage.

Maximize Profits with Hy-Line W-80

Read more about the Hy-Line W-80 Advantage.

 Recent and Upcoming Events

Recent Hy-Line Events and Trade Shows


Upcoming Trade Shows

Hy-Line will be participating in these upcoming trade shows. Be sure to visit us!

  • IPPE (Booth B5827) - 24-26 January, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  • VIV Asia (Booth 2650) - 8-10 March, Bangkok, Thailand
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