Improving layer development
through gut health
performance at various
stages of the layer’s life.
health can aid layer
The performance of brown egg
laying hybrids, and similarly white
egg layers, has increased significantly
through genetic selection over the
last quarter century. The increase
in productivity has been achieved
through advancing sexual maturity,
increasing the level and time of peak
production, improving persistency
and also improving livability.
An example of performance
development during this time is
demonstrated in the breed standards
for Shaver 579 from 1985 and 2009.
Today’s performance could have
been further improved by continuing
advances in early maturity; however it
has been recognized that the potential
benefit in egg numbers may have come
at the cost of ease of management and
average egg size. For this reason, most
breeding companies have reduced or
ceased selection in this characteristic
and rely more on the improved post
peak persistency to give continuing
annual gains in egg number.
There remain two critical times
in the life of the pullet which will
have the greatest e;ect on final
performance, the first four to six
weeks and the time from onset of
lay until peak production. During
both these times, body weight
development is crucial if the flock is
to perform to breeder standards.
remain very adaptable to management
changes in order to optimise performance.
levels. Feed particle size has a direct
impact on early growth rate, not only
during the early brooding period but
throughout the rearing period.
Natural growth promoters
(NGPs) are already widely used in
broiler production, and trials have
shown that use of probiotics and/or
phytogenics to improve gut health
can further aid the development of
early growth for early development.
The second critical time for
successful performance is between
onset of lay and reaching peak egg
mass production. In nature, a chick
hatched in one spring would not
come into production until the
following year, allowing it time to
reach adult weight before coming
into lay. With current management
programmes and light stimulation,
modern hybrids reach sexual maturity
earlier and, whilst already in egg
production, still have to grow a further
20%. Again, this means that care has
to be taken in providing the correct
nutrition for body maintenance, egg
production and growth.