The effect of dietary calcium concentration and particle size on performance, eggshell quality, bone mechanical properties and tibia mineral contents in moulted laying hens.Br Poult Sci. 2011 Dec; 52(6):761-8.BP
1. A total of 72 H&N Brown Nick laying hens, 76 weeks of age (moulted at 60 weeks of age), were randomly assigned into a 3 × 3 factorial arrangement with three limestone particle sizes and three dietary Ca concentrations (30, 36 and 42 g/kg Ca); with 8 replicates per treatments, and one hen (individual) per experimental unit. 2. Particle sizes of the limestone were: distributions smaller than 2 mm (Fine), between 2 to 5 mm (Medium), and larger than 5 mm (Large). The fine, medium and large limestone particles were all obtained from the same source, and sieve sizes used had screen sizes 2 mm and 5 mm. 3. The different concentrations of dietary Ca, particle size or interactions had no significant effect on egg production, egg weight, egg mass, feed intake or feed conversion ratio. 4. The concentrations of dietary Ca and particle sizes had no significant effect on egg breaking strength, eggshell as % by weight of whole egg or eggshell thickness. The interactions between Ca concentrations and particle sizes had a significant effect on eggshell breaking strength, but not on other parameters. 5. Different dietary particle sizes had no significant effect on the Ca, P and Mg mineral contents of eggshell. While the different concentrations of Ca in diets had a significant effect on the P content of eggshell, they had no significant effect on Ca and Mg contents. 6. Different dietary concentrations of Ca had a significant effect on shear stress, and Ca and Mg contents of tibiae, but not other parameters. Also, dietary particle sizes had a significant effect on shear stress and Ca contents of tibiae. The interaction between Ca concentrations and particle sizes had a significant effect on tibia shear force and Ca content. 7. According to the results of this study, moulted brown laying hens should be fed 36 g/kg Ca and a medium limestone particle size (2-5 mm) in the diet to maintain performance, eggshell and bone quality.