Data from: The intake pattern and feed preference of layer hens selected for high or low feed conversion ratio
Hungerford, Alena et al. (2020), Data from: The intake pattern and feed preference of layer hens selected for high or low feed conversion ratio, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.f0t7jd2
Feed accounts for the greatest proportion of laying hen egg production costs and there is substantial variation in feed to egg conversion (FCR) efficiency between individual hens. Despite this understanding, there is a paucity of information regarding layer hen feeding behaviour, diet selection and its impact on feed efficiency. It was hypothesised that variation in feed to egg conversion efficiency between hens may be influenced by feeding behaviour. For this experiment, two 35- bird groups of ISA Brown layers were selected from 450 individually caged hens at 25-30 weeks of age for either low feed conversion ratio FCR < 1.8 ± 0.02 (high feed efficiency (HFE))) or high FCR >2.1 ± 0.02 (low feed efficiency (LFE)). For each of these 70 hens, intake of an ad-libitum mash diet at 2-minute time intervals, 24 h a day, for 7 days was determined alongside behavioural assessment and estimation of the selection of components of thethis mash. The group selected for HFE had a lower feed intake, similar egg mass and associated lower FCR when compared with the LFE group. Whilst feed intake patterns were similar between HFE and LFE hens, there was a distinct intake pattern for all layer hens with intake rate increasing from 0300 to 1700 h with a sharp decline to 22002100 h. High feed efficiencyFE hens selected a diet with 25% more ash and 4% less gross energy than LFE hens. The LFE hens also spent more time eating with more walking events, but less time spent resting, drinking, preening and cage pecking events as compared with HFE hens. In summary, there was no contrasting diurnal pattern of feed consumption behaviour between the groups ranked on feed efficiency, howeverIn summary, high feed efficiency hens consumed less feed and selected a diet with greater ash content and lower gross energy as compared with LFE hens. Our work is now focused on individual hen diet selection from mash diets with an aim of formulating precision, targeted diets for greater feed efficiency.