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Poult Sci. 2006 Jul;85(7):1136-44.

Effect of strain of layer and age at photostimulation on egg production, egg quality, and bone strength.

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Crops and Livestock Research Centre, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.


Bone strength in layers is a concern for economic reasons and animal welfare concerns. Bone characteristics were investigated in 3 strains of hens: Babcock B-300, a small-bodied commercial white-egg layer; ISA-Brown, a commercial brown-egg layer; and an unselected Brown Leghorn line (BL). After being reared together in a single pen with 8 h of light per day, hens were caged with 14 h of light per day. Half of the hens were caged at 18 wk of age and the other half at 20 wk of age, resulting in a 2-wk difference in the age at photostimulation. Body weights, egg production, feed efficiency, and egg quality were measured throughout production. At 15, 25, 50, and 74 wk of age, hens were euthanized for sampling of the radius and the humerus. Breaking strength of the radius and humerus was measured, and the area and density of trabecular (largely medullary bone) and cortical bone were measured using quantitative computed tomography. Egg production and feed conversion of ISA-Brown hens was as good as or better than that of Babcock B-300 hens, and both commercial strains had higher production than the BL. Photostimulation late delayed sexual maturity and improved albumen and shell characteristics but had only minor effects on egg production and did not affect the yolk weight. The delayed photostimulation resulting from caging 2 wk later affected the radius by increasing the area of the trabecular space at 50 wk of age and the density of the bone in the trabecular space at 74 wk of age. Breaking strength of the humerus at 25 wk of age was greater for the birds that were photostimulated late but was not different later in the trial. The humerus, but not the radius, of the BL had a greater breaking strength than that of the commercial strains, suggesting that selection has decreased humeral breaking strength.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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