06 May 2020

SPLITFEEDING, a more profitable method for egg production

alimentación animal


Jon de los Mozos

Diamond V

Content available in: Español (Spanish) Português (Portuguese (Brazil))

The Splitfeeding method provides an optimal supply of nutrients. By supplying two different diets a day, it satisfies the hen’s nutrient requirements during the egg formation process.

Since 2005, a new layer feeding program, called Splitfeeding, has been developed to satisfy the specific nutritional needs that occur in each phase of egg formation, needs that vary throughout the day.

Laying hens lay most of their eggs during the morning (Etches, 1986; Larbier and Leclercq, 1992). The interval between two successive ovipositions is about 24-26 hours (Keshavarz, 1998). After oviposition, the next ovulation occurs 30 minutes later. The white is formed in the first four hours of the egg formation process, then the egg moves to the uterus where the shell is deposited around the albumin, the duration of this process is approximately 20 hours (Larbier and Leclercq, 1992).

The needs of laying hens for amino acids, energy, calcium and phosphorus do not remain constant but vary throughout the day. Attending to the different needs in nutrients that the hen has for the formation of the different components of the egg. Feeding systems in single-diet layers with constant levels of nutrients may not result in optimal nutrient utilization (Chah, 1972; Leeson and Summers, 1997).

Shell formation takes place mainly during the late afternoon and evening hours.

The result of using Splitfeeding is more profitable egg production due to better shell quality, more eggs suitable for sale, lower production costs and improved production yields.

The nutritional needs of the layers vary during the day depending on the evolution of the egg formation.

Chah (1972) in a study, offered chickens diets in which they could choose nutrients for themselves. The total daily intake of amino acids, energy and calcium was respectively 11%, 8% and 26% lower than in chickens fed a single diet (Figure 1). This suggests that the hen uses energy, amino acids, calcium and phosphorus more efficiently, consuming these nutrients at times of the day when her needs are highest. Therefore, the practice of supplying a single diet may NOT be an appropriate strategy for optimal nutrient utilization.

Experimental design tests

The research work carried out by the team of researchers at the Trouw Nutrition Poultry Research center aimed to accurately determine the nutritional needs of different nutrients during the morning and afternoon when two diets are provided:

  • Energy
  • Amino acids
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
Result of this research project was the development of the Splitfeeding feeding program, in which two diets were provided per day in order to better satisfy the dynamic needs of nutrients involved in the egg formation process:

  • Morning diet: meets the needs in the early stages of egg formation.
  • Afternoon diet: satisfies the needs of shell formation.

Each test was performed with a single nutrient, determining the optimal level of energy, amino acids, calcium and phosphorus for morning and afternoon diets throughout the laying cycle. Compared to the traditional single-diet system, Splitfeeding results in a reduction in total nutrient intake (Figure 2), with productive performance being at least as good as when using a single diet. In all the experiments carried out with Splitfeeding, a constant improvement of the shell quality was observed (shell weight, thickness or SWUSA). (Figure 3).

Splitfeeding improves the quality of the shell

The effect of a change in the feeding system from a single diet to Splitfeeding was tested in an old flock of hens (91 to 98 weeks old). The first four weeks (91-94), a single feeding was used and in the following four weeks (95-98), the layers were fed with a Splitfeeding program. With Splitfeeding the percentage of broken or farmed eggs was significantly reduced compared to the previous period with the single diet, in addition to significantly increasing the number of saleable eggs. (Figure 4).

Splitfeeding reduces the excretion of nutrients in stool

In the three experiments in which the effects of nutrient excretion were studied, the results demonstrated that Splitfeeding is a more sustainable feeding program by reducing the excretion of nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium in the stool (Figure 5). Splitfeeding resulted in lower daily nutrient intake and better use of these nutrients, as these were supplied when the layers needed them. Splitfeeding is an alternative feeding system in which the hen is closer to performing a voluntary and physiological feeding behavior, better adjusting the intake of nutrients according to their different needs throughout the day, depending on the egg formation process.

With this objective, we supply with Splitfeeding two different diets on the day:

  • Morning diet, designed to meet the needs when the albumin is forming and oviposition occurs.
  • Afternoon diet, designed to meet the needs associated with shell formation.

This adaptation of the laying hen’s physiological needs during the day allows the Splitfeeding feeding system to be a more effective feeding program: Splitfeeding provides the optimal supply of nutrients that the hens require during the egg formation process, achieving a more profitable and sustainable egg production. Benefits provided by Splitfeeding:

  1. Improving the quality of the shell and increasing the number of saleable eggs.
  2. More profitable egg production through lower production cost.
  3. Improvement of nutrient efficiency and sustainability.






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