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South African Journal of Animal Science

On-line version ISSN 2221-4062
Print version ISSN 0375-1589


TůMOVA, E. et al. Interactions of genotype, housing and dietary calcium in layer performance, eggshell quality and tibia characteristics. S. Afr. j. anim. sci. [online]. 2016, vol.46, n.3, pp.285-293. ISSN 2221-4062.

The study was designed to evaluate the interactions in performance, eggshell quality and tibia traits of two laying hen genotypes, namely a commercial hybrid, Lohmann (LSL), and a traditional breed, the Czech Hen (CH), housed in conventional cages and on litter, and fed two levels of dietary calcium (Ca) (3.5% vs. 3.0%). A significant interaction between genotype, housing and Ca was determined in egg weight. The heaviest eggs were laid by LSL hens housed in cages and fed 3.0% Ca (61.8 g), and the lightest laid by CH, also in cages on 3.0% Ca (47.3 g). Eggshell strength and shell weight were significantly affected by three-way interaction. Czech hens kept in cages and fed 3.0% Ca produced the strongest shells (4480 g/cm2), whereas the CH in cages on 3.5% Ca had the weakest (3665 g/cm2) shells. Hens housed on litter had significantly stronger tibias than hens housed in cages (485 vs. 397 N). With respect to genotype, tibias were stronger in CH. Housing and level Ca in feed had a significant effect on tibia weight. However, none of these factors affected tibia thickness or ash content. Tibia Ca content was higher in caged birds than in those on litter. The results of the study show that interaction between housing, genotype and Ca resulted in large differences in measurements of egg weight and eggshell quality. Tibia characteristics were less affected by the treatments, and no interactions were evident in the variables.

Keywords : Cage; calcium level; Czech Hen; laying hens; litter; Lohmann.

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