The Poultry Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - By Ken­ton Krea­ger

O pti­mis­ing egg size in hot weather E

very sum­mer the same thing hap­pens. Hot weather hits sud­denly, layer feed con­sump­tion drops, and pro­duc­tion and egg size suf­fer as a re­sult. It’s a pre­dictable se­quence of events, yet we sel­dom plan ahead for avoid­ing these con­se­quences. It is ob­vi­ous that egg size is man­age­able through con­trol­ling body weight, rate of ma­tu­rity, and nu­tri­tion. Now is the time to plan ahead for hot weather peak­ing flocks to im­prove early egg size and op­ti­mise prof­itabil­ity.

The most se­verely af­fected flocks are those just com­ing into pro­duc­tion when the hot weather ar­rives. That is a pre­car­i­ous time in the life of a layer any­way, be­cause they have dif­fi­culty con­sum­ing suf­fi­cient feed to meet their nu­tri­tional de­mands, even in nor­mal con­di­tions. Adding the ef­fect of heat stress at this time can only make it worse. What

are some ac­tions that can be taken to bet­ter pre­pare young flocks to main­tain pro­duc­tion and egg size dur­ing hot weather?

Body Weights

The sin­gle most im­por­tant fac­tor for achiev­ing egg weight is the pul­let’s body weight ma­tu­rity. This re­la­tion­ship, is sum­marised in be­low table.

For ev­ery 45 g heav­ier the av­er­age body weight at 18 weeks, egg size in­creased al­most 0.5 grams. Of course, body weight is af­fected by many man­age­ment fac­tors, in­clud­ing disease, light­ing, space al­lot­ment, and beak trim­ming, but the most di­rect in­flu­ence prob­a­bly comes from nu­tri­tion.

It has been demon­strated that pul­let growth is most re­spon­sive to pro­tein in roughly the first half of the grow­ing pe­riod and to en­ergy in the later half. We have learned that en­ergy in­take can be the most re­stric­tive nu­tri­ent lim­it­ing growth. With to­day’s feed ef­fi­cient va­ri­eties, we some­times need to en­cour­age con­sump­tion dur­ing grow­ing by keep­ing house tem­per­a­tures a lit­tle cooler, run­ning feed­ers more of­ten, and al­low­ing more space per bird. Also, higher den­sity di­ets, espe­cially en­ergy, will al­low the pul­lets to con­sume ad­e­quate en­ergy and other nu­tri­ents on a lower

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