Pale eggs and the role of additives in feed were the two key issues at Alltech’s Layers Roundtable Discussion Meeting on 25 April.  Richard Allison reports from the meeting held in Stamford 

Heat stress is the latest proposed cause of pale eggs, a condition that can blight free-range layer flocks during the summer.

Sally Soloman of the University of Glasgow Veterinary School highlighted that detailed examinations of affected eggs had revealed that pale eggs had been laid six hours prematurely – before the pigment had been laid down.  These eggs have no cuticle and since most of the pigment is contained in the cuticle, eggs appear pale.

She puts it down to heat stress which could explain why the problem tends to be seen during summer and then corrects itself when birds are kept inside.  Prof Solomon is continuing her investigations and hopes to come up with a solution in the near future.

Feed additives are set to have an increasing role in poultry diets as cereal prices continue to climb, according to a US consultant nutritionist.

Speaking at the recent Alltech meeting, Woodie Williams highlighted a growing interest in using additives to boost the energy value of feed.

“Feed costs have gone up a lot in the last year.  It’s now costing $0.12/doz (6p/doz) more than it did six months ago.  The bioethanol boom is driving up costs, as more grain is diverted from food and feed to biofuel.”

The result is that more producers are asking: “How can I get more eggs or weight gain out of my feed.  Feed enzymes have been around a long time, but interest has definitely soared in recent months.

“Take phytase, the economics have changed.  It’s now viable to increase phytase inclusion and we have doubled its inclusion,” he said.