Effects of Rearing Systems on Performance, Egg Characteristics and Immune Response in Two Layer Hen Genotype

  • Received : 2011.10.21
  • Accepted : 2012.01.02
  • Published : 2012.04.01


White (Lohmann LSL) and Brown (ATAK-S) laying hens, were reared under organic and conventional cage rearing systems, and the effects of the rearing system on performance parameters, egg production, egg characteristics, and immune response were investigated. For this purpose, a total of 832 laying hens of two commercial hybrids, i.e., 416 white (Lohmann LSL) and 416 Brown (ATAK-S) layers, were used. The experiment lasted between 23 and 70 wk of age. In this study, the white layers yielded more eggs as compared to the brown layers in both organic and conventional production systems. Egg weight exhibited a similar pattern to that of laying performance. However, the total hen-housed egg number for the white birds in the organic system was fewer than that of white birds in the conventional cage facility; conversely, a contradictory tendency was observed for the brown birds. Livability of the white layers in the organic system was remarkably lower (14%) than that of the brown line, whereas the white line survived better (3.42%) than their brown counterparts in conventional cages. The feed conversion ratio of the white hens was markedly inferior in the organic system as compared to that of the white hens in the conventional system, whereas relatively lower deterioration was reported in brown layers when reared in an organic system. The organic production system increased egg albumen height and the Haugh unit in eggs of the brown layers. The yolk color score of organic eggs was lower than that of conventional eggs for both brown and white hens. The egg yolk ratio of eggs from white layers was found to be higher in organic eggs as compared to those obtained in the conventional system. All organic eggs had heavier shells than those produced in the conventional system. Eggs from brown layers had more protein content than eggs from white layers. Neither housing systems nor genotype influenced egg yolk cholesterol concentration. When compared to conventional eggs, n-3 fatty acid content was lower in organic eggs, and the n-6:n-3 ratio was higher in organic eggs. In conclusion, two hen genotypes showed different responses in terms of performance and egg quality to two different rearing systems. A commercial white strain produced more eggs with higher egg quality as compared to a native brown strain. The brown strain was found to have adapted well to organic production conditions when survival and total egg number was taken into consideration.


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