ARS and West Virginia University researchers have developed a humane method for extending the egg-laying capacity of poultry. In poultry production operations hens are put through a period of molting—producers give the hens a break from laying eggs—to help raise birds' overall egg production. Nearly 200 million chicken hens are molted annually in the United States. Molting usually restores about 85 percent of hens’ production capacity, and results in improved egg quality and egg size. The molting process is typically accomplished by restricting poultry feed for 7 to 14 days. However, this process depletes hens’ bodily resources. In addition, as of February 2006, the United Egg Producers’ guidelines propose that traditional feed-withdrawal molting be replaced by a method that allows hens access to feed. ARS’s method, which uses a feed additive, has minimal physiological impact on the birds while dramatically improving egg quality. This invention will fill a need for poultry producers as new industry guidelines for poultry production transpire.
ARS researchers are seeking a partner to conduct on-farm studies to test the efficacy of this feed additive in commercial poultry production systems. Current ARS studies are underway to determine the impact of the additive on poultry bone mineral. Ultimately, this technology will require Food and Drug Administration approval for poultry. This research is part of ARS’s strategy to develop techniques and processes for improving farm animal conditions and welfare.
ARS is looking for pharmaceutical companies, especially those with animal health divisions, to further test and develop this technology for commercial use.
Please refer to patent application S.N. 11/082,042 (Docket #0174.03), “Ovarian Regression and Recrudescence in the Hen Using Melengestrol Acetate,” which was filed on March 16, 2005. Foreign patent rights are not available.
Donald C. Lay, Jr.
Livestock Behavior Research
West Lafayette, IN 47907
(765)496-7750, Fax: (765)496-1993
West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV 26506