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Br Poult Sci. 2005 Jun;46(3):340-8.

Effects of an experimental phytase on performance, egg quality, tibia ash content and phosphorus bioavailability in laying hens fed on maize- or barley-based diets.

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Institut de Recerca i Tecnologies Agroalimentaries, Department of Animal Nutrition, Centre Mas Bové, Reus, Spain.


A 24-week performance trial was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of an experimental phytase on performance, egg quality, tibia ash content and phosphorus excretion in laying hens fed on either a maize- or a barley-based diet. At the end of the trial, an ileal absorption assay was conducted in order to determine the influence of phytase supplementation on the apparent absorption of calcium and total phosphorus (P). Each experimental diet was formulated either as a positive control containing 3.2 g/kg non-phytate phosphorus (NPP), with the addition of dicalcium phosphate (DCP), or as a low P one, without DCP addition. Both low P diets (containing 1.3 or 1.1 g/kg NPP) were supplemented with microbial phytase at 0, 150, 300 and 450 U/kg. The birds were housed in cages, allocating two hens per cage as the experimental unit. Each of 10 dietary treatments was assigned to 16 replicates. Low dietary NPP (below 1.3 g/kg) was not able to support optimum performance of hens during the laying cycle (from 22 to 46 weeks of age), either in maize or barley diets. Rate of lay, daily egg mass output, feed consumption, tibia ash percentage and weight gain were reduced in hens fed low NPP diets. The adverse effects of a low P diet were more severe in hens on a maize diet than in those on a barley diet. Low dietary NPP reduced egg production, weight gain, feed consumption and tibia ash content and microbial phytase supplementation improved these parameters. Hens given low NPP diets supplemented with phytase performed as well as the hens on positive control diets containing 3.2 g/kg of NPP. A 49% reduction of excreta P content was achieved by feeding hens on low NPP diets supplemented with phytase, without compromising performance. Phytase addition to low NPP diets increased total phosphorus absorption at the ileal level, from 0.25 to 0.51 in the maize diet and from 0.34 to 0.58 in the barley diet. Phosphorus absorption increased linearly with increasing levels of dietary phytase. Mean phosphorus absorption was higher in barley diets than in maize diets (0.49 vs 0.39).

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