Effect of Poor Feather Cover on Feed Intake and Production of Aged Laying Hens

  • Glatz, P.C. (Pig and Poultry Production Institute, South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Received : 2000.10.26
  • Accepted : 2000.12.07
  • Published : 2001.04.01


The effect of poor feather cover on feed intake and production was examined in two commercial strains of layers (tinted and brown egg) over 91-98 weeks of age. Hens were housed at four per cage ($600cm^2/bird$) in a commercial layer shed which ranged in temperature from 13.2 to $16.8^{\circ}C$. At the start of the experiment 50% of the birds were classified as having poor feather cover. Feather score was highly correlated with feed intake. Poor feather cover on the neck and the back were the best indicators of hens with high feed intake. Feed intake of hens with poor feather cover was 16% higher (p<0.05) than hens with good feather cover. Hens with good feather cover produced more eggs (p<0.05) early in the trial and had a higher (p<0.05) liveweight, but there was no significant differences in egg weight. Feed per dozen eggs was superior (p<0.05) in hens with good feather cover. Feather cover on the back and vent were the best indicators of overall feather score, while the tail, base of tail and vent were the body parts most affected in birds with poor feather cover.


Laying Hens;Feather Cover;Feed Intake;Egg Production

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