Short Communication Effects of short chain fatty acid (SCFA) supplementation on performance and egg characteristics of old breeder hens
A study was conducted to determine the effect of supplementing the diet of breeder hens with a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) premix, containing 509 g fatty acid salts/kg of which 285 g were calcium butyrate, on their eggshell characteristics and the hatching percentage of the eggs. One thousand six hundred 66-week old White Bovans laying breeder hens were used in this experiment. They were housed in eight identical pens, each containing 200 birds, and four pens were used per treatment. The SCFA premix was included at 1000 mg/kg in the treatment diet, and fed for a period of nine weeks. Responses were compared with an unsupplemented treatment. Supplementation started when the hens were 66 weeks old. From day 75 eggs were collected for the next seven weeks and the occurrence of cracked, dirty and misshapen eggs was recorded, and the hatching percentage of the eggs was determined. Eggshell strength was lower in eggs from the control (1.76 ± 0.05) than from the treatment group (2.07 ± 0.03). The percentage of eggs produced by the control group (68.6 ± 0.08) was significantly lower than that by the supplemented group (71.5 ± 0.15). Percentage of dirty, cracked and misshapen eggs, and the hatchability percentage of the control group (1.15 ± 0.03, 3.44 ± 0.05, 6.27 ± 0.03 and 88.93 ± 0.06, respectively) were also significantly lower than in the group receiving SCFA (0.47 ± 0.03, 2.21 ± 0.03, 3.81 ± 0.03 and 93.36 ± 0.05, respectively). It was concluded that dietary supplementation of SCFA to layer breeder hens from 66 weeks of age onwards improved eggshell strength, reduced the percentage of dirty, cracked and misshapen eggs and increased the hatching percentage of the eggs. The positive responses were suggested to be largely due to the butyrate in the SCFA.
Keywords: Butyrate; SCFA; eggshell quality; hatching characteristics
South African Journal of Animal Science Vol. 37 (3) 2007: pp.158-163