Whole wheat versus mixed layer diet as supplementary feed to layers foraging a sequence of different forage crops

Animal : an International Journal of Animal Bioscience
Klaus Horsted, J E Hermansen


In many cases health and welfare problems are observed in organic egg production systems, as are high environmental risks related to nutrient leaching. These disadvantages might be reduced if the layers are allowed to utilise their ability to forage to a higher degree thereby reducing the import of nutrients into the system and stimulating the hens to perform a natural behaviour. However, very little is known about the ability of modern high-producing layers to take advantage of foraging to cover their nutritional needs, and the aim of the present work was to clarify this subject. Six flocks, each of 26 hens and one cock, were moved regularly in a rotation between different forage crops for a period of 130 days. Half of the flocks were fed typical layer feed for organic layers and half were fed whole wheat. The forage crops consisted of grass/clover, pea/vetch/oats, lupin and quinoa. At the beginning of the experiment, wheat-fed hens had a lower intake of supplementary feed (wheat) and a lower laying rate, egg weight and body weight. However, after a period of 6 to 7 weeks, the intake of wheat increased to approximately 100 g per hen per day and the laying rate increased to the same level as for the hens fed layer feed. For bot...Continue Reading


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