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Nutrition and Egg Weight

Body weight at point of lay influences yolk size, which, in turn, influences egg weight. Therefore, changing the pullet feeding and management program to increase body weight at point of lay can increase the egg size throughout the laying period and vice versa.

During the laying period, egg weight can be influenced by changing the consumption of balanced protein or amino acids (of these, methionine has traditionally been used to affect egg weight), linoleic acid, and supplemental fat or oil. Rather than changing just methionine, it is recommended to change all the amino acids to influence egg weight. Consumption of energy will typically affect the rate of egg production before affecting egg weight, so the dietary energy content should normally not be changed in an attempt to influence egg weight.

Note that if these nutritional strategies are used to influence egg weights to avoid excessively heavy eggs, it is important to start egg-weight control early in the production cycle (i.e., 2 to 3 g before the desired egg weight). Once the eggs are above the desired weights, it is difficult—if not impossible—to reduce egg weight without also reducing egg production.

Strategies to decrease (or "control") egg weight include:

  • Reducing feed intake
    • this may best be done by increasing the ambient temperature in the barn without negatively affecting air quality, or
  • Reducing the consumption of amino acids ("balanced protein")
  • Reducing the consumption of fat or oil
    • this may be done without affecting the dietary energy content through the use of exogenous feed enzymes
    • for the Hy-Line W-36 and W-36 Parent Stock, reducing the dietary fat or oil content before peak production is helpful (as long as the birds still receive sufficient energy)
  • Reducing the consumption of linoleic acid (C18:2 n-3)
    • it appears that fat or oil in general (as opposed to a specific fatty acid) has more influence on egg weight than linoleic acid (at linoleic-acid intakes above 1 g per day)
  • Reducing the body weight at point of lay (and avoid increases in body weight above the performance standards throughout the lay cycle).

The opposite strategies can be used to increase egg size. All strategies (except perhaps body weight, which is not easily changed without changing egg production) can be implemented at different ages to influence the shape of the egg-weight curve.

 

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