The effect of keel fractures on egg production, feed and water consumption in individual laying hens

1. A total of 165 Lohmann brown laying hens were obtained from a commercial farm that consisted of 105 with keel fractures and 60 without keel fractures.

2. After a 4-d period of acclimatisation, hens were individually housed and provided with ad libitum food and water for a 24-h period. The number of eggs laid, egg weight, feed and water consumption during this period were recorded. Keel bone strength was also assessed.

3. Hens free from keel fractures laid more eggs (91.7 per cent vs. 84.9 per cent) of significantly heavier weight (61.9 g vs. 60.2 g), ate less feed (139 g vs. 151 g) and drank less water (212 ml vs. 237 ml) than hens with fractures.

4. There was a significant positive association between keel fracture severity and water consumption, and a significant negative association between keel fracture severity and egg weight and keel bone strength. 5. This small-scale study on individual birds shows that keel bone fractures may have an impact on the economics of egg production. The study is from the School of Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.


Nasr MA, Murrell J, Nicol CJ. Br Poult Sci 2013; 54(2): 165-170.

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