What are the possibilities to improve protein efficiency of laying hens?

Published on
February 19, 2016

On Monday the 18th of January, a discussion-meeting with animal breeders and nutritionists on ‘Improving protein efficiency of laying hens’ took place in Wageningen. The meeting was organised in the framework of Breed4Food; Theme “Resource Efficiency”. Animal breeders and nutritionist from Wageningen UR and different companies discussed future directions to improve protein efficiency of laying hens.

In the (near) future, protein efficiency of livestock is an important area in livestock production. Due to the increase in world population and increase in wealth, it is expected that the demand for human edible protein sources (from animal as well as plant origin) will increase. Due to increasing demand for human edible proteins, it is expected that high-quality protein sources, like soy, will become more expensive. This will result in competition between humans and animals for high-quality protein sources, which will increase feed costs. Therefore, the animal production sector should 1) use animals that are more efficient with protein sources, and/or 2) efficiently use of alternative protein sources or protein sources with a higher percentage human inedible (such as sunflower seed meal, rapeseed meal, peas, vicia faba, lupines and their concentrates, chick peas, lucerne, leaf proteins from grass or sugar beet leaves, algae, duckweed, insects).

The aim of the meeting was 1) to give an update about improving protein efficiency of laying hens, 2) to discuss future directions, and 3) to discuss which phenotype could be used to improve protein efficiency. There was a lively discussion with unique input from both disciplines, and several strategies were discussed. The research team will use the information to improve the report on ‘improving protein efficiency of livestock’ and to give recommendations to the Breed4Food partners to improve protein efficiency. One of the most important outcomes of the workshop was that animal breeders and nutritionist have to collaborate to improve protein efficiency.