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Effect of limestone particle size on performance, eggshell quality, bone mineralisation, and in vitro/in vivo solubility in laying hens: a meta-analysis

2021 CPRF,Nutrition
Several publications over the five last decades have studied the effect of coarse limestone particles on production performance, bone mineralisation, and calcium (Ca) digestibility in laying hens. Coarse limestone particles have been shown to increase eggshell quality, and bone mineralisation. However, several authors did not show any effects of coarse limestone particles. The objective of this quantitative review was to study the impact of limestone particle size on the digestive and metabolic fate of Ca to optimize calcium utilisation by laying hen through a meta-analysis approach. Fifty-eight publications published between 1971 and 2019 and including 192 experiments were included in 3 databases. Four categories of dependent variables were identified: 1) Ca solubility (in vitro and in vivo Ca solubility and gizzard retention time), 2) production performance (laying rate, egg weight), 3) eggshell quality (eggshell specific gravity, eggshell thickness, eggshell breaking strength), and 4) bone mineralisation (tibia breaking strength). The independent variables tested were Particle Size and Age of hens. Multiple regression models were fitted with the nlme package of R software with the random effect of the experiment. Results showed that the in vitro solubilisation of Ca linearly decreased with Particle Size (P < 0.001; R2 = 0.91), while in vivo solubilisation linearly increased with limestone Particle Size (P < 0.001; R2 = 0.91). This result could be explained by the longer retention time of coarse limestone particle in the gizzard (P < 0.001; R2 = 0.60) that induced higher Ca solubilisation by gastric juices than fine limestone. Coarse limestone showed no effect on production performance while all eggshell quality parameters increased when hens received larger limestone particle (P < 0.001; R2 > 0.91); increasing specific gravity by 0.8%, eggshell thickness by 1.1%, and eggshell breaking strength by 3% was obtained when passing from 0.15 mm to 1.5 mm. The most relevant effect of coarse limestone particles was on tibia breaking strength. This effect is age-dependant (Age x Particle size, P < 0.001; R2 = 0.89) given that coarse limestone particles improved tibia breaking strength with ageing compared to fine limestone particles. The current study showed a priority for egg production and eggshell formation in older hens at the expense of bone mineralisation which can lead to reduce bone mineralisation.
Tags :
bone health,eggshell quality,limestone,particle size
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PhD Student

Laval University

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