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Nutrition Recommendations

The nutritional recommendations presented in this guide result in excellent production in a wide variety of situations and are derived from observations in the field with Hy-Line pullets and laying hens. However, specific conditions and specific production objectives may necessitate increasing or decreasing the recommended daily energy and nutrient intakes. In such cases, advice from Hy-Line Technical Service or a professional nutritionist is recommended.

Energy recommendations

A range of recommended energy concentrations is provided to accommodate several situations where diets of different densities are needed (and to accomodate regional differences in energy table values of feed ingredients). As a general rule, the energy concentration at the low end of the recommended range corresponds to the higher feed consumption rates. Increased energy and nutrient density of the feed is useful at certain times, especially when energy consumption may be a limiting factor, such as the critical period between housing and peak production (see sections for Feeding the Laying Hen and the nutrition-program recommendations for each individual variety). Flocks consuming less than 260 to 280 kcal/day (1.09 to 1.17 MJ/day) per bird at peak production tend to suffer post-peak dips in production.

Heat stress will also result in lower feed and energy consumption. As a result, increasing the energy content in the feed can result in better body weight gain, egg production, and egg weight, especially when the effective ambient temperature is high. Fats or oils are concentrated sources of energy and can be useful in increasing the energy content of feed. The digestion of fat produces less body heat (i.e., fat has a relatively low heat increment), which is useful during periods of heat stress.

Amino acid recommendations

The amino acid recommendations are based on digestible lysine and all other amino acids are calculated using ideal amino acid ratios. Recommendations for total amino acids is subsequently calculated using digestibility coefficients from corn (maize) grain and soybean meal. The ideal amino acid ratios used are based on a review of the literature, and may differ slightly among Hy-Line varieties.

By basing the recommendations on digestible amino acids, the recommendations become independent of feed ingredient sources—in other words, the recommendations can be used for corn (maize) and wheat based diets alike.

Because of variations in amino acid composition among and within feed ingredients, it is highly recommended to periodically analyze feed ingredients for amino acid content or—at the very least—analyze for the crude protein content (from which amino acid composition can be estimated).

Calcium and phosphorus recommendations

The recommended calcium (Ca) and (available) phosphorus (P or Pav) recommendations result in excellent eggshell and bone-structure quality. In some cases, lower-than-recommended contents may produce good results as well, depending on the rate of egg production, egg weight, and age of the hens. Note that the recommendations are independent of the use of phytase. See also the section on avian urolithiasis (gout).

Sodium (Na) and chloride recommendations

Hy-Line birds need about the same number of milligrams of sodium (Na) per day as that of other laying hens. However, because their lower feed intake, the sodium content in percent of the diet should often be higher for Hy-Line hens than for other laying hens (see the Formulating for Feed Intake section and the suggested nutrition programs for each of Hy-Line's laying hens, available through the menu on the left). Hy-Line's hens can tolerate these relatively high levels of sodium without causing wet manure. Note that (even marginally) low consumption of sodium can cause nervous hens and may lead to feather picking and cannibalism.

There is little recent research on chloride (Cl) needs of laying hens, so the minimum recommendations have been set to equal those of sodium. In contrast, there are some indications that relatively high consumption of chloride (Cl) may lead to wet manure and poor eggshell quality, but the maximum dietary chloride level is up to the individual nutritionist. Normally, there are no problems with dietary chloride levels of up to 0.30%.

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