Improvement of flock productivity through supply of vitamins for higher laying performance and better egg quality
An adequate supply of all nutrients, including proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water, has to be provided to support maximum productivity of laying hens. Among these nutrients, vitamins are particularly important, since they are essential for optimum health as well as normal physiological functions of the hens. As most vitamins cannot be synthesized by poultry in sufficient amounts to meet physiological demand, they must be obtained from the diet. The absence from feed or impaired absorption or utilization of vitamins can lead to specific deficiency disorders. This review reports on the occurrence and the physiological functions of all vitamins and summarizes research related to the requirements for and the beneficial effects of supplemental vitamins for laying hens. The recommendations for dietary supplementation of vitamins from various organizations are compared and put into perspective of modern poultry genotypes and current husbandry conditions. As there is good evidence that the minimum dietary vitamin levels, required to prevent clinical deficiencies may not support optimum health, performance and welfare of poultry under today's conditions it is recommended to include a safety margin to the vitamin requirements of laying hens.
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24 August 2010
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