1. An experiment with 480 ISA Brown layers was conducted to measure the effect of dietary energy ( 11.8, 11.2 and 10.6 MJ/kg) and non-starch polysaccharides ( NSP) ( 128, 146 and 207 g/kg) concentration, soluble NSP content ( 64 and 85 g/kg), particle size distribution of the NSP fraction ( fine and coarse) and feed form ( mash and crumble) on feed intake, eating time and egg performance of laying hens in early lay ( from 18 to 26 weeks of age). Twelve experimental diets were tested, each replicated 4 times. 2. Laying hens in early lay that were fed low- or high-NSP diets were able to compensate for 10% dietary dilution by 9.5 and 4.9% higher feed intakes, respectively. Feeding crumble or coarsely ground mash did not affect feed intake. 3. Eating time of the hens fed the undiluted diets increased over the experimental period from 16.4 to 24.6% of the observation period, but was not affected by sand or grit addition, particle size distribution or feed form. Feeding high-NSP diets increased eating time by 22%. 4. Egg performance and body weight gain of the hens that were fed low- NSP or high-NSP diets were similar or better compared to the undiluted diets, whereas coarse grinding of the diets showed 7 to 10% lower egg performance and weight gain. Egg performance and weight gain were not affected by feed form. 5. It is concluded that hens in early lay, fed energy-diluted diets, by adding sand or grit ( low-NSP) or NSP-rich raw materials ( high-NSP) to the control diet, were able to increase their feed intake, resulting in energy intake and egg performance comparable to the control group. Supplementing diets with insoluble NSP also decreased eating rate. Prolonged eating time using insoluble NSP could be useful in reducing feather pecking behaviour.
van Krimpen, M. M., Kwakkel, R. P., André, G., van der Peet-Schwering, C. M. C., den Hartog, L. A., & Verstegen, M. W. A. (2007). Effect of nutrient dilution on feed intake, eating time and performance of hens in early lay. British Poultry Science, 48(4), 389-398. https://doi.org/10.1080/00071660701509619