LF Kubena; RB Harvey; TD Phillips; GM Holman; CR Creger
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Abstract: Mature White Leghorn hens that had been fed a commercial laying diet were changed to a wheat-based diet over a period of 42 days. Two groups were formed based on equivalent egg production and body weights and randomly assigned to either a control (noncontaminated) wheat diet or a naturally contaminated deoxynivalenol (DON, vomitoxin) wheat diet (18 mg DON/kg). Hens were provided their respective diets and water ad libitum for 112 days along with 16 hr of light. The DON-contaminated diet did not significantly influence hen body weights, hen day egg production, egg weights, or efficiency of feed utilization. Internal egg quality, as measured by albumin height, was slightly, although significantly, improved by feeding the DON-contaminated wheat diet. Egg shell weight and percent egg shell were slightly, although significantly, decreased by feeding the DON-contaminated diet, whereas shell thickness was not altered. No deleterious effects were observed in fertility, hatchability, or chick weights at hatch. The results indicate that laying hens are affected only slightly when fed naturally contaminated wheat diets containing approximately 18 mg DON/kg for 112 days.