The effect of the inclusion of meat and bone meal (MBM) in the diet of old laying hens on their egg production and the quality of their eggs was investigated. Meat and bone meal containing a high concentration of ash and a low concentration of crude protein was included at levels of 2.0, 4.0 and 6.0% in the diets and fed for 20 weeks. Forced moulted 84-week old laying hens (Brown-Nick) were divided randomly into four treatment groups of 120 hens each. The inclusion of 2.0% MBM to the layer diet increased hen-day egg production significantly, whereas inclusion in excess of 2.0% MBM had no additional beneficial effect on egg production. However, the inclusion of dietary MBM at all three levels depressed egg weight. There were no significant effects of dietary treatments on egg weight, feed intake and feed conversion ratio of the hens. The specific gravity of the eggs from hens fed the control diet was significantly lower than from those receiving the diets containing 2.0 and 4.0% MBM. The Haugh Unit value of eggs in the 6.0% MBM treatment was significantly higher than the other treatments. There were no significant effects of MBM inclusion on yolk colour score, yolk height, eggshell thickness, eggshell weight and eggshell strength. However, MBM inclusion in a diet had a significant beneficial effect on eggshell quality. The eggshell ratios of the 2.0, 4.0 and 6.0% MBM treatments were significantly higher than in the control diet, while the cracked/broken egg ratio was significantly lower. In conclusion, inclusion of MBM containing a high ash and low crude protein content to conventional maize-soya bean diet improved egg production performance of laying hens. The dicalcium phosphate level in the diet could also be reduced without any adverse effects on egg production and egg quality.
"Experientia docet" - Experience is the best teacher