Two experiments were conducted to examine the effects of varying length of feed withdrawal on postmolt laying hen performance. Commercial laying hens (65 wk of age) were fed continuously or fasted for 4 or 10 days in Experiment 1 and fed continuously or fasted for 4, 7, or 14 days in Experiment 2. Egg production performance was evaluated for 35 wk of production following initiation of fasting. Hen-day egg production (Weeks 1 to 35) and egg weight (Weeks 5 to 35) did not differ between treatments in Experiment 1; however, in Experiment 2, egg production was depressed for the 14-day fasted hens compared with the fed hens. Lower egg weight also occurred for the 14-day fasted hens compared with the fed, 4-, or 7-day fasted hens in Experiment 2. Egg yield (grams of egg per hen per day) for Weeks 5 to 35 was lower for fed hens versus the 4- or 10-day fasted groups in Experiment 1, but no treatment differences occurred in Experiment 2. Feed efficiency (grams of egg per gram of feed) for Weeks 5 to 13 was not affected by length of fasting in Experiment 1, but feed efficiency of hens fasted for 14 days was lower (P less than .05) than that of hens on other treatments in Experiment 2. Egg specific gravity was highest for hens fasted for 10 or 14 days and was lowest for fed hens, with egg specific gravity for hens fasted for 4 or 7 days being intermediate (P less than or equal to .05). The results indicated that fasting periods of less than 10 days may yield satisfactory egg production and egg weight but that eggshell quality may be enhanced by using fasting periods of 10 days or longer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology