Feeding Hens for Optimum Egg Quality

Final Report for FNC02-436

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2002: $3,060.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $1,587.00
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
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Project Information


This project dealt with 40 Gold Star chickens. The chicken house was 6 feet high, 12 feet wide, and 18 feet long and the outside pen had a perimeter of 150 feet. There was also access to free range.

Two years before this project, Varley experimented to see how egg size affected the fat and protein in the egg. The knowledge gathered from this data determined how much future experiments would cost.

The goal of this project was to determine:
• Which type of feed would produce optimum egg quality
• How egg size affects the optimum egg quality
• How a non-confining environment affects the amount of eggs produced

• Construct pens to house the chickens and control the variables
• Purchased the Gold Star pullets from Hoover’s Hatchery
• Chickens were randomly selected and banded to create four groups
• The different color leg bands (red, pink, blue, and white) were assigned to the four different groups of chickens
• Mix the different types of feed
• The ration was balanced to 14.5 percent protein
• The Pearson Square method was used to do the calculations
• Collect and record the number of eggs for a period of 10 days
• Test eggs at Iowa State University for fat, protein, cholesterol
• Record and analyze the data

• Mr. Wilson – Ag and FFA advisor, helped with balancing the ration and getting the Fish meal
• Mrs. Vandelune – Ag teacher, helped get information about the project
• Mr. Schwinger – Science teacher, help set up final presentation and helped in the science area
• Dr. Rex Whilhelm – Large animal vet, knowledge about fishmeal
• Dr. Dong Ahn – Iowa State University meat professor, helped do the egg testing
• Andy Kalenburg – Poultry manager for Rose Acers, provide information about chickens
• Warren and Karen Varley – Parents and always helped when ever I needed it

Tables and Graphs [Editor’s Note: The tables and graphs were included in a PowerPoint presentation prepared by Ben Varley. For copies, please contact the NCR-SARE office at: [email protected] or 1-800-529-1342.]:
• Number of eggs laid
• Graph of number of eggs laid
• Table of egg weights (weight in grams)
• Table of egg weights (weight in grams)
• Graph of average weight
• Graph and Table of lipid percent
• Graph and Table of protein
• Graph and Table of cholesterol
• Table of results

• The amount of cholesterol increased as the weight of the egg increased in both types of feed groups.
• The non-confined chickens laid more eggs.

This project has shown that:
• Chickens fed chicken feed and corn produced eggs with less fat
• Chickens fed chicken feed, corn, and fish meal produced eggs with more protein
• Cholesterol levels were the same in the end for both groups
• Non-confined chickens produced more eggs than confined chickens
• The chickens that received fishmeal in their feed on average produced larger eggs

If some one was to ask which method I would choose to feed my chickens, I would have to recommend the commercial chicken feed with out fish meal because it is the most cost efficient. I was not sure what to expect to happen in this experiment.

I could do this same experiment in the summer. I could try even more types of feed, such as a flax seed meal. There is also the possibility of seeing the temperature affects on chickens eggs.

I learned that there is not a lot of difference between the commercial feed and the fish meal ration I tried. The results have not affected my small scale operation since it is not economically smart for me to do.

Economic: If a way was found to actually feed chickens fish meal efficiently it would raise fish prices as well as egg prices since fish meal is expensive. Since I was unable to find a productive way the market would pretty much stay the same.

Environmental: It would reduce waste of excess parts of fish (if a profitable way to feed chickens fishmeal was found). Another aspect someone could look at is how fishmeal affects the nutrients in chicken manure to be used as fertilizer.

Social: From what I have found, feeding fishmeal to chickens would not cause any major concern in the public. The public would become more excited about it if it showed to be a healthier egg. The only thing the public might get worried about is if it was found that mercury from the fish were getting into the eggs.

This project has reached about one thousand adult and high school students across the state of Iowa. This was done through science fairs, 4-H, and FFA. It was presented at county fairs, science fairs, symposiums, and community gatherings.

• Iowa City Symposium: over 200 people with presentation and one-on-one with people afterwards
• Four different science fairs: over 400 people with one-on-one talks and presentation
• Community Gathering: around 50 to 75 people, titled: Evening with young scientist
• County fairs: over 500 people, Display set up and hand outs


Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.