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Common feed supplement strengthens chicken bones - study
Researchers found that adding betaine to the diet of egg-laying hens improves bone quality.

Researchers assess the effects of betaine on egg-laying hens.

Adding a common feed supplement to a chicken's diet can help to improve bone strength, according to new research.

The study by the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute found that betaine – a widely used feed additive in pig, poultry and fish production – can improve bone quality in egg-laying hens that are at risk of osteoporosis.

A related study by Roslin also found that selection for hens with an adaption to store calcium - a process known as mineralisation of the medullary bone - could also improve bone quality.

The timing of puberty may also play a role in bone strength, the second study suggests. Researchers say the findings, published in British Poultry Science, could aid poultry producers in deciding which animals to breed.

Maisarah Maidin from the Roslin Institute explained: “Our results demonstrated that adding betaine to the diet of laying hens makes their bones stronger, therefore improving animal welfare of these food-producing animals.”

In the study, researchers fed chickens one of four diets containing different amounts of dietary betaine until they stopped laying eggs. Bone and blood samples were analysed at various stages throughout the process.

The team found that the addition of dietary betaine improved bone strength in laying hens. They also noted that egg quality and production were unaffected by the dietary treatments.

Dr Natasha Whenham, research and development manager at AB Vista, which funded the study, said: “The performance benefits of using betaine as a feed additive in poultry diets are thought to be well known. 
However, understanding how this additive can be used to alleviate welfare concerns in laying hens through improved bone quality, without affecting egg quality or production, is an exciting development and extends benefits of betaine further.”

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Webinar to focus on equine worm control

News Story 1
 Vets, veterinary nurses and RAMAs are being invited to join a free CPD webinar on late winter and early spring equine worm control.

Hosted by Zoetis vet Dr Wendy Talbot, the webinar aims to help prescribers understand which parasites are of most concern at this time of year. It will also cover how to assess parasite risk, selecting a suitable wormer and spring wormer plans, concluding with a Q&A session.

The webinar takes place on Thursday, 18 March at 10 am and will be repeated at 7 pm for those unable to listen during the day. To book the 10 am webinar, click here, and to register for the 7 pm webinar, click here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
Avian influenza confirmed in Lancashire

A case of highly pathogenic (HPAI H5N8) avian influenza has been confirmed in two captive peregrine falcons on a non-commercial, non-poultry premises near Skelmersdale, West Lancashire.

Following a risk assessment, APHA has declared that no disease control zones have been put in place surrounding this non-commercial, non-poultry premises.

Eighteen cases of HPAI H5N8 have now been identified in poultry and other captive birds in England. A housing order for poultry and captive birds introduced by Defra to control the spread of the disease expired on 31 March, although bird keepers in England are still required by law to comply with biosecurity measures.

For more information, please click here.