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Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia

Print version ISSN 1516-3598On-line version ISSN 1806-9290


NUNES, Ricardo Vianna et al. Effect of feeding increasing calcium levels for semi-heavy laying hens during the prelay phase and the beginning of the laying. R. Bras. Zootec. [online]. 2006, vol.35, n.5, pp.2007-2012. ISSN 1516-3598.

The effect of feeding increasing calcium levels for semi-heavy laying hens during the prelay phase and its effects in the four subsequent weeks were evaluated in this trial. Two hundred and eighty-eight Isabrown birds with 16 weeks of age were allotted to a complete randomized design with four treatments, eight replicates and nine birds per experimental unit. The corn and soybean meal-based diets were formulated to meet the bird nutrient requirements, with the exception of calcium levels. The experiment lasted six weeks, when the birds were fed four prelay diets with increasing calcium levels (0.6, 1.2, 1.8, and 2.4%) in the period from 16 to 17 weeks of age. During the four subsequent weeks, a diet with 3.8% of calcium was fed for all birds. No treatment effect on weight gain, age at first egg and ash content in the shell of first egg was observed, however linear effect on calcium level retained in the shell was detected. In the four subsequent weeks, the different calcium levels fed in the prelay phase did not affect feed intake, egg production, feed:gain ratio, weights of eggs and shell, shell thickness and calcium concentration in the shell. Shell weight in relation to egg weight, shell weight per unit of area surface and ash content in the shell were affected linearly by treatments. The calcium levels in the prelay diet not affect egg internal and external quality during the first four weeks of laying. The 0.6% calcium nutritional level is recommended for semi-heavy laying hens in the prelay phase.

Keywords : calcium requirements; egg production; eggs quality.

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