Evaluation of guar meal as a source of prebiotic galactomannans for laying hens
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Four experiments were conducted to evaluate guar meal as a source of prebiotic galactomannans for laying hens. In the 1st experiment, late phase laying hens were fed diets with 0, 5, 10% guar meal (GM) for 56 days or 15% GM for 28 days then switched to the 0% GM diet for the final 28 days. In the 2nd experiment, young pullets were fed guar germ (GG) or GM at 0, 2.5 or 5% for 20 weeks. In the 1st and 2nd experiments, egg production and feed consumption were not affected by feeding up to 5% guar by-products whereas feed efficiency was decreased by guar feeding. Feeding of GG or GM did not affect egg weight or shell quality, but decreased the egg yolk color and Haugh units. Guar increased absolute and relative liver weight, but did not affect the weights of the pancreas, spleen, or the incidence of fatty liver or liver hemorrhage. Feeding 10% GM depressed feed consumption and increased body weight loss. Feeding 15% GM severely depressed egg production followed by a recovery of production after returning to 0% GM feeding. In the 3rd and 4th experiments, late phase laying hens were induced to molt by feed withdrawal (FW) or feeding 15 or 20% GM with or without β-mannanase (Hemicell??). All hens except those fed 15% GM with enzyme obtained a complete cessation of lay in 10 days. Compared to FW birds, hens fed GM had lower body weight reduction and mortality, while hens fed 20% GM with enzyme had higher post-molt egg production. Salmonella enteritidis (SE) present in 6 organs (crop, liver, spleen, ovary, oviduct and cecum), and SE in cecal contents were significantly reduced by 20% GM feeding with and without enzyme. The results showed that GG or GM can be safely fed to laying hens up to 5% without adverse effects on performance. An alternative molting method employing 20% GM with or without β-mannanase is preferable to FW because GM feeding results in a complete molt and decreases mortality, as well as enhances the resistance to SE of molted hens.