The effect of diet density on allometry in pullet growth and early egg production

Lieske van Eck*, Adele Schouten, Syrena Powell, David Lamot, Henk Enting, Rene Kwakkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Understanding the effect of nutrition on pullet growth curves and body composition may help to design new feeding strategies that influence body composition and (long-term) laying performance. Therefore, this study examined the effect of nutrient density (low, medium or high metabolizable energy and essential amino acids), fed in the rearing phase until 17 wk of age, on Hy-Line white W80 pullet growth, body composition development and egg production performance until wk 35. Data were subjected to mixed model analyses. To determine a multiphasic allometric relationship between body components, an overall growth curve was established and inflection points were determined. The linear higher BW at the end of the rearing phase, due to increased diet density, was maintained during the peak production phase until wk 35. Egg production parameters were not affected by rearing diet density. Breast and body crude protein percentages were not influenced by dietary treatments, whereas body crude fat and abdominal fat pad percentages were linearly increased with diet density from early age onward. Body crude protein was initially deposited at the same rate as body dry matter. In a second phase of growth from wk 12 onward, crude protein deposition was lower than body dry matter deposition, but was not influenced by rearing diet. Body crude fat, on the other hand, initially grew at a lower rate than body dry matter, but increased in deposition rate during a second phase of growth starting at wk 2 to 5. Pullets fed the high density diet showed higher deposition of crude fat vs. dry matter as compared to pullets fed the medium density diets in the first phase until wk 2, but exhibited lower crude fat deposition in the second phase until wk 8. These results indicate that until approximately wk 12, crude protein deposition was mainly driving growth and was not influenced by diet density. From wk 5 to 6 onward, crude fat deposition relative to protein deposition increased and this was influenced by diet density from an early age.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103211
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • allometry
  • diet density
  • growth
  • pullet


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