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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Effects of Alfalfa and Fructooligosaccharide on Molting Parameters and Bone Qualities Using Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry and Conventional Bone Assays

Authors
item Kim, W. - TEXAS A & M
item Donalson, L. - TEXAS A & M
item Mitchell, Alva
item Kubena, Leon
item Nisbet, David
item Ricke, S. - TEXAS A & M

Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 19, 2005
Publication Date: September 19, 2005
Citation: Kim, W.K., Donalson, L.M., Mitchell, A.D., Kubena, L.F., Nisbet, D.J. Ricke, S.C. 2006. Effects of alfalfa and fructooligosaccharide on molting parameters and bone qualities using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry and conventional bone assays. Journal of Poultry Science. 85:15-20.

Interpretive Summary: Feed withdrawal is the primary procedure used to induce molt and stimulate multiple egg-laying cycles in hens. However, feed withdrawal molting methods have received increasing levels of scrutiny related to the animal welfare as well as food safety issues in recent years. An induced molting using feed withdrawal is a potential factor increasing structural bone loss and incident of osteoporosis in laying hens. The purpose of this study was to evaluate effects of alfalfa and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) on molting performance and bone parameters compared to the conventional feed withdrawal molting procedure. FOS, low-molecular-weight indigestible sugars, have been shown to stimulate calcium and magnesium absorption in the intestine and increase bone mineral concentrations in humans and rats. The results of this study suggests that alfalfa is a good molting diet inducing effective ovary regression and rapid cessation of egg production, FOS sugars have potential to maintain bone strength during molting, and the bone parameters measured by conventional assays, bone breaking strength measured by conventional methods, and bone density and mineral content measured by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry were highly correlated to each other.

Technical Abstract: The aim of this study was to evaluate effects of alfalfa and fructooligosaccharides on molting performance and bone parameters compared to the conventional feed withdrawal molting procedure. Feed withdrawal, the primary method for inducing molt, has received increasing levels of scrutiny related to the animal welfare and food safety. Feed withdrawal is a potential factor enhancing structural bone loss and incident of osteoporosis in laying hens. Alfalfa molting diets had comparable molting parameters such as % body weight loss, ovary weight, and 1st day out of egg production to the conventional feed withdrawal molting procedure and FOS supplementation did not have any detrimental effects on molting performance. Conventional bone assay and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) results suggest that hens lose a considerable amount of bone minerals during a molting period. The tibia and femur bone strengths of the FF, FW, A100, and A100L hens were significantly lower than the PC hens whereas hens fed 100% alfalfa supplemented with 0.75% FOS had similar tibia bone breaking strength to that of the PC hens. The bone parameters measured by conventional assays, bone breaking strength measured by Instron, and bone density and mineral content measured by DXA were highly correlated to each other.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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