Effect of Dietary Supplementation of an Antioxidant Blend on Performance, Egg Quality and Behavior in Bovans Brown Hen
Rachel L Dennis,
In egg industry, transportations and mixing are common stressors for hens. The objective of this study was to determine if the dietary antioxidant supplement improves hen performance, egg quality and behavior following transportation and housing environment changes. At 28 week of age, floor pen housed Bovans Brown hens (n = 48) were transferred to 2-hen wire cages and randomly assigned to one of the four dietary treatments: standard layer ration (control) and antioxidant supplemented diets at 200, 400 and 600 ppm of Agrado for 2 weeks. Egg production was recorded daily. Egg quality and feed consumption were measured weekly on two consecutive days. Individual body weight and weight of internal organs were measured at the end of the study. Behaviors were recorded twice per week using scan sampling. All three treated groups had higher egg production and fewer broken eggs compared to the control group. Body weight loss was observed in all hens regardless of treatments. However, hens fed 400 ppm antioxidant tended to lose the least body weight. In addition, hens fed 400 ppm antioxidant displayed the lowest incidence of stereotypic pecking behaviors. There were no treatment effects on feed intake, liver and spleen weight, Haugh units and yolk color, heterophil to lymphocyte ratio and corticosterone concentrations. Adrenal weight tended to be lower in all treated hens compared to the controls but without dose effects. In conclusion, dietary supplementation of the antioxidant could be used as a practice strategy to improve hen productivity performance under management stress.
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