Egg quality is one of the key objectives for breeder and layer producers. It is defined by internal and external characteristics, such as shell integrity, texture, shape, colour, dirtiness, yolk and albumen quality, among others.
Strong eggshells insure easy storage and transport of the eggs. Certain markets will also favour a specific colour or size. Raising healthy animals with adequate mineral and nutritious profiles is crucial to obtain good quality eggs strong eggshells. Egg shell formation is highly complex, which means high risk for imperfections to arise in several places in the hens’ oviducts. Strain and age of hen, moulting, (heat) stress, but also diseases will also affect egg production and its quality. Nutrition is an important modulator, and several steps can be taken to improve and optimize eggshell quality.
Optimizing eggshell quality should take into account a multitude of parameters: egg size, egg specific gravity, shell color, shell breaking strength, shell deformation (destructive or not), shell weight, percentage shell, shell thickness, dirtiness and shell ultrastructure. Nutritional factors such as calcium, phosphorus, vitamins, water quality, non-starch polysaccharides, enzymes and toxin control are crucial. Pigments are used to optimize egg yolk colour to the preference of the market. Providing the right profile of minerals and vitamins will be key. Nutrition can also play an important role in optimizing the balance in the microbiota, resulting in better digestion of the feed and nutrient absorption non-starch polysaccharides by providing the right probiotics for instance. With an optimized microflora the animal digests better and efficiently absorbed all the vitamins and minerals needs to maintain high egg shell quality. Use of probiotics for example improve egg shell quality and egg production performance.