The effect of low-density diets on bird performance, egg composition, and embryonic development was studied with 2,100 female and 210 male Cobb broiler breeders from 25 to 60 wk of age. The experiment included 5 treatments. These included a control group with a normal density diet (ND, 2,800 kcal of AME/kg). Treatments 2 (LD11) and 3 (LD21) had a 11 and 21% lower nutrient density. Treatment 4 (LD11OP) had a 11% less dense diet, which was obtained by inclusion of other feed ingredients. In these 4 treatments similar diets were given during the rearing and the laying period. Treatment 5 combined LD12 in the rearing period and ND diets during the laying period (LD12-ND). Egg composition and embryonic development were measured in eggs of ND and LD21 birds at 29 and 41 wk of age. During the laying period from wk 25 to 60, live weights did not differ among treatments, except that birds fed LD11OP had lower live weights. A significantly higher rate of lay was provided by LD11 compared with ND. Egg weights were significantly higher when low-density diets were fed, particularly in LD11OP. Percentage of fertile eggs did not differ among treatments. Compared with the other treatments, LD11OP provided a significantly lower hatchability. We found that LD21 resulted in a better development of the area vitellina externa and heart and embryo weight at 29 wk of age. It was concluded that this was related to a higher egg weight and egg white proportion. This suggests that the amount of egg white in eggs of hens fed ND was limiting for embryonic development, particularly in eggs of young broiler breeders.
- quantitative food restriction
- egg weight
- feed restriction
- parental age
- recommended levels