Effect of limestone particle size on egg production and eggshell quality of hens during late production
A study was conducted to determine the influence of different particle size limestone in layer diets on egg production and eggshell quality during the later stages of egg production (>54 weeks of age). Calcitic limestone (360 g Ca/kg), consisting of small (<1.0 mm), medium (1.0 - 2.0 mm) and large (2.0 - 3.8 mm) particles were obtained from a specific South African source that is extensively used in poultry diets Isoenergetic (14.32 MJ AME/kg DM) and isonitrogenous (172.01 g CP/kg DM) diets with a dietary Ca content of 39.95 g Ca/kg DM were used. Sixty nine, individual caged Lohmann-Silver pullets, 17 weeks of age, were randomly allocated to the three treatments (n = 23) for the determination of various egg production and eggshell quality characteristics. Egg production and eggshell quality data recorded on individual basis at 54, 58, 64 and 70 weeks of age were pooled to calculate and statistical analysed parameter means for the late production period. Different limestone particle sizes had no effect on any of the tested egg production and eggshell quality parameters. These results suggested that larger particles limestone are not necessarily essential to provide sufficient Ca2+ to laying hens for egg production and eggshell quality at end-of-lay, provided that the dietary Ca content satisfies the requirements of the laying hen.