Updated: Mar 19, 2022
This is the first review in a series looking at effects of feed fortification in egg-laying hens. Using feed fortification to improve hen health and welfare is a novel idea. The intervention aims to alleviate pain and suffering arising from bone fractures, bone deviations, and osteoporosis in egg-laying hens via fortified feed. Through this literature review, we aim to discover if previous studies or evidence demonstrate that providing optimal levels of key nutrients and minerals can improve the welfare of hens.
Most of the papers referenced include studies that examine changing feed composition to determine changes in production, including the often cited “Nutrient Requirements of Poultry” guidelines created by the National Research Council. We were also able to find papers that reference health and welfare, as well as many papers looking at the impact key nutrients, such as calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D have on hen health. Reports on different housing systems, and hen lineage were also documented to determine the effects they have on dietary needs and bone health.
The main findings from this first volume are that bone fractures can be caused by many different factors including malnutrition, housing system and genetics. Detecting fractures is also an issue as the most common method for detection, palpation, is not as accurate as high-cost radiography or sonography procedures; this allows bone incidences to go unnoticed, leaving hens in unseen pain. Determining how genetics, feed fortification and housing systems impact each other, as well as finding the most cost-effective solution to this issue is key in order to accomplish our intervention goal. This review provides an informative overview and introduction to the complex topic of hen nutritional needs.