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Cheaper feed for chickens still produces a ‘good egg’

Posted 30 June 2016

I believe the improved quality of the albumen and the yolk, combined with the cheaper cost of feed, makes this a good feed ingredient for farmers."

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A student’s dissertation project at Harper Adams University has concluded that eggs from layer chickens that have been fed distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) do not suffer any adverse effects.

Lucy Hood, 21, a bioveterinary science student, said: “Through my project, I saw that the eggs from chickens which are fed a DDGS diet, had slightly lighter eggs, but the egg white (the albumen) and the yolk were of a better quality.

“DDGS is a by-product of the bioethanol process, meaning it is coming from a sustainable energy resource and is a cheaper option than traditional animal feeds. In addition, it has the potential to be used as an alternative protein source for poultry.

“Feed currently accounts for 70 per cent of the overall cost of producing animals, and so is an area many farmers would like to reduce the price of. There have been many trials into what effects DDGS has on broiler chickens, but very little information is available on laying hens,” said Lucy from Greencastle, Omagh. 

Lucy’s study was an additional project to the research being carried out by PhD student Isobel Whiting. Isobel is looking into characterising the chemical composition and nutrients available among four different batches of DDGS produced from UK sourced wheat, along with investigating nutrient digestibility and performance of laying hens.

“Isobel was conducting a six month trial. I came in for the last month, when any effect the DDGS had would be visible.  

“I weighed the eggs once a week over a four month period. There was a significant difference in egg weights between treatments, with birds fed diets containing DDGS producing slightly lighter eggs compared with birds fed a commercial layer ration.

“However, I believe the improved quality of the albumen and the yolk, combined with the cheaper cost of feed, makes this a good feed ingredient for farmers. 

“I would like to say thank you to Isobel for her support throughout this project and also to the World’s Poultry Science Association (WPSA) who provided me with a summer studentship.

“Earlier this year, they invited me to display a research poster on my project, and I won the President’s Cup. I was very surprised to win the prize, but very thankful to WPSA for the recognition.”  

'Making My Mark’ is a collection of articles looking at how Harper Adams University students are making a difference in our world. If you have a dissertation, or story, you wish to be included, please email press@harper-adams.ac.uk

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