“The organic soy is largely sourced from China and India, with oil extraction being a simple cold pressing,” Andrew Fothergill, national poultry advisor at the feed manufacturing company, told us.
The use of oil further improves the quality, consistency, flow through feeding systems, and palatability of the diet, he said.
A little under 4% of the UK egg production is organic.
Defra's annual organic farming statistics from mid-2020 showed the number of full organic laying hens in the UK was just under 1.6m in 2019 - an increase of just over 12% on the previous year.
“In this diet, we can more easily meet energy requirements from oil supplementation and can fully exploit medium energy ingredients such as sunflower meal. This, as well as providing protein, is an excellent source of structural fiber that improves gizzard function and helps support intestinal health,” said Fothergill.
Those ingredients also support the bird’s functional methionine requirements and methionine regeneration.
Shell quality, feather cover
The diet has seen great success to date, said David Hilldrith, poultry sales director, ForFarmers:
“Most of the organic egg producers we work with have switched already, or are in the process of switching, to our new range. They have quickly noticed improvements in shell quality, superior feather cover and they’re seeing fewer seconds. Customers are also reporting greater feed intake, which means more nutrients available for egg production.”
Customers have also noted the difference in feed form, how well it flows through feeding systems and overall less wastage, said Hilldrith.
Fothergill explained the reasons behind the better shell quality: the diet is formulated with rich trace minerals such as magnesium and zinc, alongside the essential mineral, calcium.
And in terms of the components supporting feather cover, he added: “Birds require a balanced supply of amino acids to support the growth of feathers. Chickens can exhibit aggressive behavior that can result in the damage or removal of features, one of the stimuli behind this aggression can be through hunger or digestive upset, this diet helps to mitigate this by the provision of adequate dietary fiber in the daily ration, promoting calmness."
Why would feed intake be improved?
“Birds are naturally attracted to oils and fats which are a rich source of calories; the inclusion of soy oil helps to suppress dustiness and dryness of the feed and increases appetence.”