This project focuses on tailor-made nutrition during the development phase of chicks growing into young laying hens. Because hens have their own unique body and physiological characteristics, the nutritional needs of individuals within a flock vary. Knowledge is lacking about the variation between individual nutrient requirements and their effects on growth development and physiological characteristics in growing hens and adult laying hens.
With innovative research methods for individual nutrition, we strive for a nutritional profile that is close to the individual needs of the animal. This results in a more robust and better developed laying hen. Which is therefore better able to contribute to high-quality, efficient and welfare-friendly egg production.
The next step is to translate the individual needs to flock level, by implementing one or more feeding strategies, depending on the observed individual variation. It is expected that offering feed(s) that are close to the nutritional needs of hens within a flock will reduce nutrient excretion. This increases the sustainability of poultry farming and reduces the environmental impact.
Offering (a mix of) multiple feeds is expected to be a strategy in the near future that can be applied in poultry houses under practical conditions.
The goals within this project are:
- Research into variation between individual nutrient requirements of hens. And the consequences of this on growth, physiological characteristics (e.g. body composition), behavior, health and well-being
- Ensure that the supply of nutrients (energy and amino acids) and the nutritional needs of individual hens are matched during their growth
- Research into the impact of body weight and body composition on early laying performance
- Research into efficiency in relation to behavior and well-being (including feather pecking, toe pecking, sternum abnormalities)
- Lower nutrient waste and emissions in manure, especially lower N emissions
- First step in a practical solution for customized feeding at flock level
Start project: 01/01/2022
End of project: 31/12/2025
Aeres Hogeschool (project lead)
Poultry Expertise Centre
Schothorst Feed Research B.V.
Universiteit van Alberta
Wageningen Universiteit & Research