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Res Vet Sci. 1998 Jan-Feb;64(1):63-7.

Medullary bone and humeral breaking strength in laying hens.

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  • 1Roslin Institute (Edinburgh), Midlothian, Scotland.


To test the hypothesis that large amounts of medullary bone in the humeral diaphysis may increase breaking strength, various parameters of bone quality and quantity were examined in two large flocks of hens near end of lay. We conclude that the amount of medullary bone in the humerus of hens during the laying period influences bone strength. This medullary bone may not have any intrinsic strength, but may act by contributing to the fracture resistance of the surrounding cortical bone. Using a quantitative, low dose, radiographic technique, we can predict, from early in the laying period, those birds which will develop large amounts of medullary bone in their humeri by the end of the laying period. The formation of medullary bone in the humeral diaphysis is not at the expense of the surrounding radiographed cortical bone.

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