Induced molt using cassava meal. 2. Effects on eggshell quality, ultrastructure, and pore density in late-phase laying hens

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This experiment was conducted to investigate the effect of a non-fasting induced molt using cassava meal on the eggshell quality, ultrastructure, and porosity in late-phase (74 wk old) H&N Brown laying hens. Hens were randomly assigned to 3 treatments of 90 birds each: 1) Controls with no induced molt (CONT); 2) molted by full feeding with cassava meal for 3 wk (FP3); and 3) molted by full feeding with cassava meal for 4 wk (FP4). Following the treatments, groups 2 and 3 were fed a pullet developer diet for 3 weeks. During the molt period, the birds were exposed to an 8L:16D photoperiod and had access to drinking water at all times. Thereafter, all hens were fed a layer diet (17% CP) and exposed to a 16L:8D photoperiod until the end of the study. Compared to the CONT treatment, significant reductions (P < 0.05) in shell weight, thickness, and breaking strength were identified on the sixth d of feeding the molt diet. Significant (P < 0.05) improvements in these parameters were observed for the FP3 and FP4 treatments during the post-molt period, with the greater degree in the FP4 treatment. In addition, scanning electron microscopy revealed a smaller size of mammillary knobs accompanied by a higher density of mammillae in eggs taken from the molted treatments. Evidence of type B mammillae was detected in an egg produced by the CONT hens, whereas confluent and cuffing mammillae were observed in an egg taken from the FP4 birds. Reduced pore densities were found in the molted treatments in some periods of the post-molt production as compared to the CONT treatment. It was concluded that feeding the cassava molt diet for 4 wk could be an effective non-fasting molt method for improving eggshell quality, ultrastructure, and porosity in post-molt laying hens.

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