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Performance and egg quality in laying hens fed naked oats - LS3603

This Proposal is relevant to ROAME A LS36 (Improving the sustainability of livestock production through optimal nutrition). It complements a further Proposal (AFENO) on the use of naked oats in diets for broiler chickens and turkeys. This proposal is intended to complete the picture by providing information for the egg sector of the poultry industry. It is directed towards: (1) augmenting quantitative information on bio-secure sources of protein and other nutrients; (2) relating this to high quality poultry products which can be differentiated from imports; in particular, it is proposed that we examine key aspects of egg quality related to fatty acid composition and antioxidant content in birds fed on diets containing naked oats; (3) maximising use of home-grown products and increasing market opportunities and diversification for UK arable farmers; (4) maintaining competitiveness of UK agriculture by providing information on ingredients and bird responses to nutrients; 5) giving consumers access to a UK-grown non-genetically modified source of protein and energy. There are further related benefits: (6) an increased area of naked oats will result in improved species biodiversity; (7) substitution of wheat or barley by naked oats would confer environmental advantages, as oats require less nitrogen and have reduced use of pesticides; (8) there is a global dimension, in that there is a need to reduce competition between poultry and humans for high quality foodstuffs, such as maize and soya beans; (9) poultry constitute an important model species group; success in poultry nutrition may encourage uptake by other sectors of the livestock industries.

The headline objectives are:
1. Evaluation of nutritional properties of naked oats for laying hens and growing pullets.
2. Evaluation of naked oats in pullet rearing trials.
3. Quality of eggs in relation to an oat-containing diet.

Oats in general are increasingly recognised as having a number of valuable nutritional characteristics. Naked oats combine these characteristics with the possession of a non-lignified husk, which becomes detached during harvesting. The absence of the indigestible husk, combined with a high oil content, selected for by plant breeders, greatly increases metabolisable energy content for poultry. Further advantages of naked oats include a high concentration of essential amino acids (offering an opportunity for partial replacement of imported soya and animal proteins), a high concentration of polyunsaturated oils and significant antioxidant activity. The latter two factors are likely to confer significant benefits on egg quality and marketability. The proposed research has the objective of defining the nutritional responses of growing pullets and laying hens to dietary inclusion of naked oats. These include: metabolisable energy; protein and amino acid contents and digestibilities; fat and fatty acid contents and digestibilities. Importantly, it is proposed that we examine key aspects of egg production and egg quality related to fatty acid composition and antioxidant content in birds fed on diets containing naked oats. The use of naked oats in diets for replacement pullets will be tested in a growth trial.
This will form part of the first coordinated study on the use of naked oats in animal feed. It is designed to give comprehensive information on naked oats as a source of energy, protein (amino acids), oil and other nutrients. Tangible outputs from the project will be quantitative information on the nutritional value of naked oats for layers and pullets, together with information on aspects of egg production and quality.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Performance and egg quality in laying hens fed on naked oats   (307k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2000

To: 2004

Cost: £232,726
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Roslin Institute, Edinburgh (BBSRC)
Livestock Farming              
Fields of Study