Evaluation of dehulled faba bean (Vicia faba cv. Fiord) as a protein source for laying hens
Dehulled faba beans were evaluated as an alternative to soybeans as a protein source for laying hens using 240 individually caged birds, 50 weeks of age. Two basal feeds were formulated to the same nutrient specifications but with one containing no faba beans and the other containing 200 g dehulled faba bean meal/kg. The experiment was divided into two parts: a dilution series, and a choice feeding treatment. The dilution series consisted of increasing concentrations of faba beans, the five levels in the series being 0, 50, 100, 150 and 200 g/kg of food. The sixth treatment was a choice between the two basal feeds. Although food intake increased linearly with faba bean inclusion, reflecting a need by the hens to consume more in an attempt to obtain sufficient of some unidentified limiting nutrient, laying performance was the same on all feeds in the dilution series. Hens consumed the same amount of each basal feed when given a choice between the two, suggesting that no anti-nutritional factors were present in the faba beans used in this trial. It can be concluded, from a nutritional point of view, that dehulled faba bean meal may be used successfully as an alternative to soybeans as a source of amino acids for laying hens as long as the levels of antinutritional factors present are very low, as was the case in this trial, and as long as accurate estimates of the AME and the digestible amino acid contents of the ingredient are used when formulating feeds containing faba beans. If faba beans can be grown and then used locally in areas unsuitable for soybean production, the reduced transport cost could make this an attractive alternative to soybeans.
Keywords: Anti-nutritional factors, protein sources, choice feeding