Effects on performance and eggshell quality of particle size of calcium sources in laying hens' diets with different Ca concentrations
- 1National Research Institute of Animal Production, Department of Animal Nutrition and Feed Science, Balice, Poland
- 2National Research Institute of Animal Production, Department of Animal Genetic Resources Conservation, Balice, Poland
- 3Poznań University of Life Sciences, Department of Animal Nutrition and Feed Management, Poznań, Poland
Abstract. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of particle size of a dietary Ca source on egg production and eggshell quality when added to hens' diets that have different levels of calcium. The experiment was carried out on 216 ISA Brown hens (25 to 70 weeks of age), allocated to 9 groups of 12 replicates (cages), with two birds in each cage. A 3 × 3 factorial arrangement was used, with three dietary levels of calcium (3.20, 3.70 and 4.20 %) and three levels of dietary substitutions (0, 25 and 50 %) of fine particles of limestone (FPL, diameter 0.2–0.6 mm) with large particles of limestone (LPL, diameter 1.0–1.4 mm) as a Ca source.
The level of Ca in the diet had no effect on egg production, mean egg weight, feed intake, feed conversion ratio or eggshell quality parameters (P > 0.05). Substitution of FPL with LPL did not affect laying performance indices or eggshell quality at 30, 43 and 53 weeks of age (P > 0.05); however, it increased (P < 0.05) eggshell percentage, thickness, density and breaking strength in older hens (69 weeks of age). In conclusion, the results of this study demonstrated that a level of 3.20 % Ca in a layer's diet is sufficient through the entire laying cycle to maintain good egg production and eggshell quality and that partial (25 or 50 %) substitution of fine- with large-particle limestone can, irrespective of the level of Ca in the diet, improve eggshell quality in aged laying hens.