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Br Poult Sci. 2005 Jun;46(3):268-79.

Changes in eggshell mechanical properties, crystallographic texture and in matrix proteins induced by moult in hens.

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INRA, Station de Recherches Avicoles, Nouzilly, France.


The effect of moult on eggshell mechanical properties, on composition and concentrations of organic matrix components and on eggshell microstructure was investigated. The observed changes were studied to understand the role of organic matrix and eggshell microstructure in eggshell strength. Moult was induced by zinc oxide (20 g zinc/kg diet) in 53 ISA Brown laying hens at 78 weeks of age. No difference was observed for egg or eggshell weights after moult. In contrast, moult improved the shell breaking strength (28.09 vs 33.71 N). After moult, there was a decrease in the average size of calcite crystals composing the eggshell and in their heterogeneity, whereas crystal orientation remained basically the same. After moulting, the total protein concentration in eggshell increased slightly. The comparisons of SDS-PAGE profiles of the organic matrix constituents extracted before and after moulting showed changes in staining intensity of certain bands. After moult, bands associated with main proteins specific to eggshell formation (OC-116 and OC-17) showed higher staining intensity, while the intensity of the egg white proteins (ovotransferrin, ovalbumin and lysozyme) decreased. ELISA confirmed the decrease in ovotransferrin after moult. Its concentration was inversely correlated with breaking strength before moult. These observations suggest that changes in eggshell crystal size could be due to changes in organic matrix composition. These changes may provide a mechanism for the improvement in shell solidity after moulting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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