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Research article2011Peer reviewedOpen access

Production and egg quality in layers fed organic diets with mussel meal

Jönsson, Lotta; Wall, Helena; Tauson, Ragnar


The first limiting nutrients in typical laying hen diets are the sulphur-containing amino acids and, in particular, methionine. To fulfil the birds' recommended requirement, conventional diets are supplemented with synthetic methionine. As this is not allowed in organic production it becomes very important to have access to alternative high-quality protein feed ingredients. An experiment was performed to evaluate the possibility to compose a diet with 100% organically approved feed ingredients using mussel meal as a major source of methionine. The experiment included 678 Lohman Selected Leghorn (LSL) and 678 Hyline White, W-98, layers during 20 to 72 weeks of age. There were 12 aviary pens with 113 birds in each. The birds were fed one of the two experimental diets containing either 3.5% or 7% dried mussel meat meal or a commercial organic diet from a Swedish feed manufacturer for comparison. Production and mortality were recorded daily per group, and egg weight was recorded once weekly. At 33, 55 and 70 weeks, 10 eggs from each treatment group were collected and analysed for internal egg quality. Diets had no significant effect on laying percentage, egg mass, feed intake, feed conversion ratio, mortality, bird live weight or proportion misplaced, cracked or dirty eggs. Egg quality, that is, shell deformation, shell breaking strength, albumen height, shell percentage and proportion of blood and meat spots were also unaffected. There was a significant difference in egg yolk pigmentation, that is, the egg yolk was more coloured when feeding 7% mussel meal compared with the other diets. Hyline hens had lower feed intake and laying percentage, and higher egg weight, but lower egg mass production than LSL birds. The age of the birds influenced all egg quality traits except for meat and blood spots. The dry matter of the excreta was significantly lower for both genotypes fed the 7% mussel meal diet. These results indicate that mussels may be a high-quality protein source and may replace fishmeal in organic diets for layers.


mussel meal; fish meal; protein source; amino acids; organic production

Published in

2011, Volume: 5, number: 3, pages: 387-393 Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS