Livestock Research for Rural Development 14 (1) 2002

Feed consumption and efficiency of feed utilization
by egg type layers for egg production

M Farooq,  M A Mian, F R Durrani and M Syed

Faculty of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Sciences,
NWFP, Agricultural University, Peshawar, Pakistan   and



This study was carried out in Chakwal, Pakistan by collecting feed consumption and egg production data from 109 flocks. The findings are based on an average of 52.5 weeks of data, including 42 days brooding, 84 days growing and 241 days of laying.  

Mean total feed consumption/bird was 37.0±0.55 kg, including 1.16±0.02, 4.17±0.05 and 31.7±0.56 kg, of chick starter, grower and layer ration, respectively. Layers kept on the floor consumed more feed compared to those kept in cages.  Higher feed consumption was recorded for: Babcock than Hisex strains; for medium and small flocks compared with large flocks; for flocks under good compared with poor hygienic conditions; and in low density compared with high density housing 

Feed conversion for egg production was better: in optimally utilized houses; in good compared with poor hygienic conditions; in larger than in small flocks; and in cage than in floor housing.

Key words; Feed consumption, egg production, flock size, housing density, cages, floor systems, hygiene


Feed consumption and its efficient utilization is one of the major concerns in commercial table egg production as feed cost is one of the major components of total cost of production. Feed alone may contribute from 60 to70% to the total cost of production in egg type layers according to Mian (1994) and Qunaibet et al (1992). Better utilization of feed and avoiding unnecessary feed wastage could be the leading factors in minimizing total cost of production (Elwardany 1998).  A layer requires 2.5 kg of feed for 1 kg eggs produced (Ascard et al 1995). Elwardany et al (1998) reported a daily feed intake of 102 g over a 52 weeks production period and 2.07 kg feed/dozen eggs laid. Petek (1999) reported a daily feed consumption/layer (115 g).

Feed consumption is a variable phenomenon and is influenced by several factors such as strain of the bird, energy content of the diet, ambient temperature, density of birds in the shed, hygienic conditions and rearing environment. When feed quality and house temperature were maintained constant, an increased density of birds increased feed intake/dozen eggs by 68 g/bird (Adams and Craig 1985). Carey et al (1995) also reported an increase in feed consumption in overcrowded houses. Zahir-ud-Din et al (2001) reported poor feed efficiency of chickens in overcrowded houses under poor hygienic conditions.
Moorthy et al (2000) reported better efficiency of feed consumed by egg type layers kept in cages in India than those kept on deep litter. Anderson and Adams (1994) also reported higher feed consumption per bird among egg type layers maintained on the floor than those kept in cages.  

The present study aimed to investigate feed consumption performance of egg type layers under a subtropical environment in order to suggest effective strategies for improving feed efficiency.

Materials and methods

Source of data

This study was carried out during the years 2000-2001 to investigate feed consumption and utilization in egg type layers in Chakwal, Punjab, Pakistan.  Sample size for the study was predicted by calculating the coefficient of variation from the data generated in the same area by Tariq et al (2000). The maximum coefficient of variation was determined for total number of eggs produced per flock and was, therefore, selected as an index for predicting sample size to accommodate both maximum and minimum values of variations in other production and economic traits. The following model, developed by Casely and Kumar (1989), was adopted for determining sample size.

          K2 * V2
N =   -----------

Where “N” is sample size, “K” the normal deviation at 95% confidence interval, “V” the coefficient of variation of the selected variable and  “D”  the margin of error assumed to be 0.1.


After predicting the required sample size (N = 109 flocks), data were collected on shed capacity, flock size, strain of chicken, type and system of housing, hygienic measures adopted, vaccination practice, amount of chick starter, grower and layer ration consumed and egg production. The hygienic status of the farm was categorized as good, average and poor on the basis of floor and house construction, vicinity of the farm, distance between sheds or other dwellings, house conditions, “all-in…..all-out” system, cleanliness and sanitation of equipments/houses and disinfecting procedures. All the farmers were following standard vaccination and de-beaking programs advised by the chick suppliers.  The density of layers in a shed was assessed on the basis of number of chicks or birds/m2. Deviation above or below the recommended level was grouped as over or under utilization of the available space.

Data analysis

The data were analyzed, using relevant statistical techniques, namely: univariate, weighted mean procedures, and general linear model (GLM) procedures.

To account for the wide variability in flock size, weighted means were calculated instead of simple averages, using the following equation:

X =
S WiXi / SWi 

Where “X “ is weighted mean, “Xi “ the variable, and “Wi” the weight factor/number for a particular variable.

The following statistical model was constructed adopting the procedure of
Steel and Torrie (1981):
Yijklmno = µ + ai + bj + ck + dl  +  em  + fn  + (axb)ij  +  gijklmno 
where “Yijklmno“ is the response variable (amount of grower ration consumed),  “µ” the population constant common to all observations, “ai“ the effect of i-th hygienic condition on the farm (i= poor, average and good), “bj“ the effect of j-th density of birds/m2 area in the shed (j= more than required number, optimum number, and less than required number),  “ck“ the effect of k-th housing system (k = brood-grow-lay house, brood-grow house, brood, grow and lay house), “dl” the effect of l-th cage vs. floor rearing system (l= cage and floor), “em” the effect of m-th flock size (m= small; <1000, medium; >10000<20000 and large; >20000), “fn” the effect of n-th strain of chicken (n= Babcock, nick-chick, hyline and hisex), “(axb)ij“ the interaction between i-th hygienic condition and j-th density of birds/m2 and “gijklmno” the residual term associated with each Yijklmno, normally, independently and identically distributed with mean zero and unit variance. 

Similar models were used to study the effect of the aforementioned variables on total feed consumption, amount of chick starter and layer ration consumed and utilization of feed for egg production.

Results and discussion

Mean feed intakes and conversion rates for egg production for all flocks are shown in Table 1. Elwardany et al (1998) reported almost similar feed conversion (2.07) as in the present study, while North (1984) reported better (1.72) and Singh and Belsare (1994) reported poor feed conversion rates (2.99).  

Table 1.  Feed consumption and conversion during the different phases of growth and production




a. Starter ration (1-42 days)

b. Grower ration  (43-126 days)

c. Layer ration   (127-242 days)

Overall feed consumption (a+b+c)









Feed conversion (kg of feed/dozen eggs)



 Feed consumed per bird was less in large than in small and medium flocks during the layer phase and consequently in the overall production cycle as consumption during the laying period represented over 80% of the total consumption (Table 2). Feed conversion for egg production improved with size of flock  Ames and Ngemba (1985), Nair and Ghadoliya (2000) and Kumar and Mahalati (1998) also reported better performance of egg type layers with increase in flock size. This may be due to better management by owners of larger flocks, thereby avoiding unnecessary wastage of feed. 

Table 2.  Feed consumption per bird and feed efficiency of egg type layers as affected by flock size





Feed consumption/bird




Starter ration

1.14 ± 0.04

1.15 ± 0.04

1.20 ± 0.05

Grower ration

4.12 ± 0.07

4.20 ± 0.08

4.19 ± 0.09

Layer ration

32.3b ± 0.72

32.2a ± 1.74

30.5b ± 0.4


37.6a ± 0.70

37.6a ± 1.70

35.9b ± 0.4

Conversion (feed/dozen eggs)

2.13a ± 0.06

2.10b ± 0.04

1.92c ± 0.02

 Feed consumption was not affected by shed density during the starter and growth phases, but was reduced during the layer phase when density was higher than the optimum and increased when density was less than the optimum (Table 3). Feed conversion was best when the optimum house density was achieved. Some of the findings of the present study were contrary to those of Adams and Craig (1985) and Carey et al (1995) who reported increased feed consumption in overcrowded houses than in optimally utilized houses. These authors attributed higher feed consumption in overcrowded houses due to higher feed wastage. 

Table 3.  Feed consumption per bird and feed efficiency of egg type layers as affected by birds density in a shed





Feed consumption/bird




Starter ration

1.19 ± 0.03

1.14 ± 0.05

1.15 ± 0.04

Grower ration

4.20 ± 0.07

4.19 ± 0.11

4.17 ± 0.08

Layer ration

31.7b ± 0.44

32.4a ± 1.40

31.0c ± 0.9


37.1b ± 0.77

37.7a ± 1.34

36.2c ± 0.9

Conversion (feed/dozen eggs)

1.96c ± 0.01

2.15a ± 0.05

2.05b ± 0.03

 A smaller amount of chick and grower ration was consumed by Hisex than that by Nick-chick (Table 4). Apparent differences regarding consumption of starter and grower ration between Hyline and Babcock were non-significant. Feed conversion for egg production was best for the Hisex strain and poorest for Babcock.  Strain differences in the feed consumption of chicks have also been reported by North (1984), Petek (1999) and Tolimir and Masic (2000).  North (1984) reported higher feed consumption for large-sized chicken than for mini-type white leghorn.  

Table 4. Feed consumption and conversion as affected by strain of the chicken






Feed consumption/bird

Starter ration

1.17a ± 0.04

1.29a ± 0.04

1.13ab ± 0.05

1.04b ± 0.03

Grower ration

4.21ab ± 0.07

4.47a ± 0.08

4.03ab ± 0.09

3.96b ± 0.13

Layer ration

32.6a ± 0.57

32.2a ± 1.50

31.1ab ± 1.43

30.9b ± 1.39


38.0  ± 0.60

37.9a ± 1.42

36.3ab ± 1.49

35.9b ± 0.4

Conversion (feed/dozen eggs)

2.20a ± 0.09

2.10b ± 0.01

2.02b ± 0.03

1.90c ± 0.02 

 A higher amount of starter was consumed when the chicks were maintained under good hygienic conditions (Table 5). Asghar et al (2001), Zahir-ud-Din et al (2001), North (1984),  Petek (1999) and Vovesny (1989) all reported higher feed consumption for birds kept under good hygienic conditions.  also reported improvement in performance of egg type layers with improvement in health and hygienic measures on the farm.  

Table 5. Feed consumption and conversion as affected by hygienic conditions on the farms





Feed consumption, kg/bird

Starter ration

1.07b ± 0.04

1.20a ± 0.06

1.21 ± 0.04

Grower ration

4.04b ± 0.09

4.23a ± 0.09

4.25a ± 0.06

Layer ration

30.9c ± 1.05

31.6b ± 0.94

32.5a ± 1.05


36.1c ± 1.03

37.0b ± 0.91

38.0a ± 0.75

Conversion (feed/dozen eggs)

2.11a ± 0.01

2.06b ± 0.04

1.98c ± 0.02

 A smaller amount of layer ration was consumed by layers housed in cages than on the floor (Table 6). Anderson and Adams (1994) and Muthusamy and Viswanathan (1998) also reported smaller feed consumption/bird among layers kept in cages than those kept on the floor. North (1984) reported that this was due to higher wastage of feed in floor systems than in cages. The higher apparent consumption of layer ration consumed by birds kept on the floor may be partly due to the higher energy expenditure for maintenance.  

Table 6. Feed consumption and conversion as affected by cage or floor housing during the laying phase




Feed consumption

30.6 ± 0.62

32.8 ± 0.97

Conversion (feed/dozen eggs)

1.90 ± 0.02

2.21± 0.12



Feed conversion for egg production was better in:


Adams A W  and Craig J V 1985 Effect of crowding and cage shape on productivity and profitability of caged layers: a survey.  Poultry Sci. 64(2): 238-242.

Ames G C W, and Ngemba L M 1986 Poultry production in Zaire.  World Economic and Rural Sociology Abst. 28(9): 5189.

Ascard  K E, Von Wachenfelt and Von Wachenfelt E 1995 Laying hens on the floor: inventry and review of experience. Specialmeddelande-Institutionen Jordbrukets. -biosystem-och-Teknologi Sveriges-Lantbruksununiveritet. 216: 84.pp.

Carey J B, Kuo F L, and Anderson K E 1995 Effects of cage  population on the productive performance of layers. Poultry Sci. 74(4):633-637

Casley J, and  Kumar D K 1889 The collection, analysis and use of monitoring and Evaluation  data. A World Bank Publication. 76-95.

Elwardany A M, Sherif B T, Enab A A, Abdel-Sami A M, Marai I F M and Metwally M K 1998 Some performance traits and abdominal fat contents of three Egyptian indigenous laying breeds. First international conference on animal production and health in semi-arid areas, El Aris. September 1-3, 471-481

Mian M A 1994 Poultry Production. In; Animal Husbandry. National book  Foundation,  Islamabad. pp.294.

Moorthy M, Sundaresan K and Viswanathan K 2000 Effect of feed and system of management on egg quality parameters of commercial white leghorn layers. Indian Vet. J.  77(3):233-236.

Muthusamy P and Viswanathan K 1998 Effect of rearing systems on performance of commercial layers. Indian J. Poultry Sci. 33(3): 264-267.

Nair B C, and Ghadoliya M K 2000 Economic viability of layer farming in the state of Goa. Indian J. Poult. Sci. 35(1): 73-76.

North M O 1984 Breeder Management. In Commercial Chicken Production  Manual.  The Avi. Publishing Company. Inc. Westport, Connecticut. 298-321. pp.

Petek M 1999 Production traits and economic efficiencies of different Genotypes of  layers reared by enterprises in Bursa province and it’s near vicinity. Veteriner Fakultesi  Dergisi Uludag Universitesi. 18(1-2): 65-77.

Qunaibet M H, Elwafa E A and Mansour M M 1992 Improving the competitive status of Saudi broiler industry. J. King Saud University Agri. Sci. 4(2):164-184.

Singh V P and Belsare V P 1994 Performance of White leghorn birds under field conditions. Poultry Advisor. 27(6): 43-46.

Steel R G D and Torrie J H 1981 Principles and procedures of statistics; A biometrical approach. 2nd. Ed. McGraw-Hill, Singapore.

Tariq M,  Sarfaraz A, Zahid S A and Azam M 2000 Economics of layer production on commercial layer farms in Chakwal district. MSc. Thesis. Dept. Agri. Eco. and Sociology. Uni. Arid Agri.

Vovesny V 1989 Economic evaluation of the rearing of Hisex White and Hisex Brown laying hybrids. Zemedelska Ekonomika. 35(6): 481-492.

 Received 17 December 2001

Go to top