Effects of physical form of feed and cage density on laying performance and pattern ‎and egg quality of laying hens

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Associate Professor , Department of Animal Science, Varamin-Pishva Branch, Islamic Azad University, ‎Varamin, Iran

2 Ph. D. Candidate, Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan, Iran

3 Former M. Sc. Student, Department of Animal Science, Varamin-Pishva Branch, Islamic Azad University, Varamin, Iran

4 Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Payame Noor University, Tehran, Iran‎

5 Associate Professor, Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan, Iran ‎


A total of 384 Shaver laying hens were selected at 50 weeks of age, and used in a factorial arrangement with two feed forms (mash and pellet) and three cage densities (3, 4 and 5 hens per cage) for 10 weeks. During 10 weeks of experiment, laying performance and at week 10 egg quality parameters, were measured. The results showed that hens fed pellet feed had higher egg weight at first 5 weeks and higher egg weight and lower feed intake and lower feed conversion ratio for ovearll 10 weeks of experiment, compared to those fed mash diet. During first 5 weeks of experiment, with increasing birds per cage 3 to 4 and 5, feed intake and feed conversion ratio (P<0.01), and for overall 10 weeks of experiment, with increasing birds from 3 to 5 per cage, egg production and feed consumption werer significantly reduced (P<0.05). The final body weight and weight changes of lying hens were affected by the cage density, feed form (P<0.01) and their interaction (P<0.05) during experimental period. The effect of cage density on shell thickness and specific gravity of eggs was significant (P<0.05). Egg production during the day was postponed in birds fed pellet feed or reared at higher density. The results showed that by increasing the cage density, laying performance was decreased, but for hens fed pellet feed, cage density had no effect on feed intake.


  1. Abdollahi, M. R., Ravindran, V. & Svihus, B. (2013). Pelleting of broiler diets: An overview with emphasis on pellet quality and nutritional value. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 179, 1-23.
  2. Anderson, K. E., Davis, G. S., Jenkins, P. K. & Carroll, A. S. (2004). Effects of bird age, density and molt on behavioral profiles of two commercial layer strains in cages. Poultry Science, 83, 15-23.
  3. Backhouse, D. & Gous, R. M. (2005). The effect of feeding time on shell quality and oviposition time in broiler breeders. British Poultry Science, 46, 255-259.
  4. Carey, J. B., Kuo, F. L. & Anderson K. E. (1995). Effects of cage population on the productive performance of layers. Poultry Science, 74(2), 633-637.
  5. Davami, A., Wineland, M. J. & Jones, W. T. (1987). Effects of population-size, floor space, and feeder space upon productive performance, external appearance, and plasma-corticosterone concentration of laying hens. Poultry Science, 66, 251-257.
  6. Dozier, W. A., Lott, B. D. & Branton, S. L. (2005). Live performance of male broilers subjected to constant or increasing air velocities at moderate temperatures with a high dew point. Poultry Science, 84, 1328-1331.
  7. Estevez, I. (2007). Density allowances for broiler: where to set the limits? Poultry Science, 86, 1265-1272.
  8. Frikha, M., Safaa, H. M., Serrano, M. P., Arbe, X. & Mateos, G. G. (2009). Influence of the main cereal and feed form of the diet on performance and digestive tract traits of brown-egg laying pullets. Poultry Science, 88, 994-1002.
  9. Gunawardana, P. Sr., Roland, D. A. & Bryant, M. M. (2008). Effect of energy and protein on performance, egg components, egg solids, egg quality, and profits in molted Hy-Line W-36 hens. Journal of Applied Poultry Research, 17, 432-439.
  10. Hamilton, R. M. G. & Proudfood, F. G. (1995). Effects of ingredient particle size and feed form on the performance of leghorn hens. Canadian Journal of Animal Science, 75, 109-114.
  11. Jalal, M. A., Scheideler, S. E. & Marx, D. (2006). Effect of bird cage space and dietary metabolizable energy level on production parameters in laying hens. Poultry Science, 85, 306-311.
  12. Jensen, L. S. (2000). Influence of pelleting on the nutritional needs of poultry. Asian-Australian Journal of Animal Science, 13, 35-46.
  13. Johnston, S. A. & Gous, R. M. (2003). An improved mathematical model of the ovulatory cycle of the laying hen. British Poultry Science, 44, 752-760.
  14. Keeling, L. J., Estevez, I., Newberry, R. C. & Correia, M. G. (2003). Production-related traits of layers reared in different sized flocks: The concept of problematic intermediate group sizes. Poultry Science, 82, 1393-1396.
  15. Leeson, S. & Summers, J. D. (2010). Broiler Breeder Production. Nottingham University Press.
  16. Lewis, P. D., Backhouse, D. & Gous, R. M. (2004). Photoperiod and oviposition time in broiler breeders. Br. Poultry Science, 45, 561-564.
  17. Mtileni, B. J., Nephawe, K. A., Nesamvuni, A. E. & Benyi, K. (2007). The influence of stocking density on body weight, egg weight, and feed intake of adult broiler breeder hens. Poultry Science, 86, 1615-1619.
  18. Nicol, C. J., Brown, S. N., Glen, E., Pope, S. J., Short, F. J., Warriss, P. D., Zimmerman, P. H. & Wilkins, L. J. (2006). Effects of stocking density, flock size and management on the welfare of laying hens in single-tier aviaries. British Poultry Science, 47, 135-146.
  19. Nir, I., Twina, Y., Grossman, E. & Nistan, Z. (1994). Quantitative effects of pelleting on performance, gastrointestinal tract and behaviour of meat-type chickens. British Poultry Science, 35, 589-602.
  20. Novak, C., Yakout, H. & Scheideler, S. (2004). The combined effect of dietary lysine and total sulfur amino acid level on egg production parameters and egg components in Dekalb Delta laying hens. Poultry Science, 83, 977-984.
  21. Olver, M. D. & Malan, D. D. (2000). The effect of choice-feeding from 7 weeks of age on the production characteristics of laying hens. South African Journal of Animal Science, 30, 110-114.
  22. Onbasilar, E. E. & Aksoy, F.T. (2005). Stress parameters and immune response of layers under different cage floor and density conditions. Livestock Production Science, 95, 255-263.
  23. Patterson, P. H. (1997). The relationship of oviposition time and egg characteristics to the daily light: dark cycle. Journal of Applied Poultry Research, 6: 381-390.
  24. Pavlidis, H. O., Price, S. E. & Siege, P. B. (2002). Associations between egg production and clutch length in four selected lines of chickens. Journal of Applied Poultry Research, 11, 304-307.
  25. Puron, D., Santamaria, R., Segaura, J. C. & Alamilla, J. L. (1995). Broiler performance at different stocking densities. Journal of Applied Poultry Research, 4, 55-60.
  26. Rios, R. L., Bertechini, A. G., Carvalho, J. C. C., Castro, S. F. & Costa, V. A. (2009). Effect of cage density on the performance of 25-to 84 week-old laying hens. Brazilian Journal of Poultry Science, 11, 257-262.
  27. Rodenburg, T. B., Tuyttens, F. A. M., Sonck, B., De Koen, R., Lieve, H. & Johan, Z. (2005). Welfare, health, and hygiene of laying hens housed in furnished cages and in alternative housing systems. Journal Applied Animal Welfare Science, 8, 211-226.
  28. Roy, B. G., Kataria, M. C. & Roy, U. (2014). Study of oviposition pattern and clutch traits in a white leghorn (WL) layer population. Journal of Agriculture and Veterinary Science, 7, 2319-2372.
  29. Sahin, S., Macit, M., Esenbuga, N. & Karaca, H. (2007). Effect of cage density on performance and egg quality traits of layers. Journal of Applied Animal Research, 31, 37-39.
  30. Saki, A. A., Zamani, P., Rahmati, M. & Mahmoudi, H. (2012). The effect of cage density on laying hen performance, egg quality and excreta minerals. Journal of Applied Poultry Research, 21, 467-475.
  31. SAS Institute. (2009). SAS/STAT® User’s Guide, Release 8.02 ed. Statistical Analysis Systems Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA
  32. Scott, T. A., Silversides, F. G., Tietge, D. & Swift, M. L. (1999). Effect of feed form, formulation, and restriction on the performance of laying hens. Canadian Journal of Animal Science, 79, 171-178.
  33. Siegel, H. S. (1959). Egg production characteristics and adrenal function in white leghorns confined at different floor space levels. Poultry Science, 38, 893-898.
  34. Sohail, S. S., Bryant, M. M. & Roland, D. A. (2004). Effect of reducing cage density on performance and economics of second-cycle (force rested) commercial Leghorns. Journal of Applied poultry Research, 13, 401-405.
  35. Sohail, S. S., Bryant, M. M., Rao, S. K. & Roland, D. A. (2001). Influence of cage space and prior dietary phosphorus level on phosphorus requirement of commercial Leghorns. Poultry Science, 80, 769-775.
  36. Tumova, E. & Gous, R. M. (2012). Interrelation between oviposition time, age, and environmental temperature and egg quality traits in laying hens and broiler breeders. Czech Journal of Animal Science, 57, 541-549.
  37. Wahlstrom, A., Tauson, R. & Elwinger, K. (1999). Production and egg quality as influenced by mash or crumbled diets fed to laying hens in an aviary system. Poultry Science, 78, 1675-1680.
  38. Zakaria, A. H. & Omar, O. H. (2013). Egg laying pattern, egg weight, body weight at hatch and sex ratio bias relative to oviposition time of young- and mid-age broiler breeders. Animal Reproduction Science. 141, 80-85.
  39. Zamani, P. (2012). Statistical designs in animal sciences (2nd Ed.). Bu-Ali Sina Univaersity Publications, Hamedan, Iran. (in Farsi)