The Dekalb did it once again!

Published on Nov. 14, 2022

The Dekalb did it once again!

The results of the balanced Breeding program of Hendrix Genetics are clearly showing of in todays’ market. The Dekalb White participated in the 16th Random Sample Test of layer hybrids in cage-free housing systems in Germany (the Bayerischer Herkunftsvergleich von Legehybriden in Bodenhaltung). Whether it is eggs hen housed, hen day, feed conversion, egg mass, livability or egg shell quality, the Dekalb has it all!

Let’s look into more detail at the Random Sample Test to discover more on the premium performance of the Dekalb.

Building the potential in the rearing period

At arrival in the rearing barn the chicks have been divided over 6 compartments (2 per breed). They have been reared in the Big Dutchman NATURA Filia system, which is a two-level rearing aviary. Chick bridges and ramps were present to help the birds to get from the system to the litter areas, and to move from one tier to another. The intermediate level inside the aviary increases the surface area of the system, ensuring sufficient room during the entire rearing period. The Dekalb showed highest bodyweights at both 8 and 16 weeks of age, accompanied by high uniformity. No differences in overall feed intake have been recorded between the 3 breeds, but when we look at mortality during the rearing period, differences are there. The LSL Classic shows more than 3 times higher mortality, and for Novogen almost 4 times as high! Selecting for livability is and has been for many years a key trait in the Hendrix-Genetics Breeding Program. As beak-trimming is prohibited in Germany, all birds were kept with fully intact beaks.

Breed Bodyweight
(grams / bird)
(grams / bird)
of BW as %
of BW as %
Feed Intake Mortality
8 weeks 16 weeks 8 weeks 16 weeks Kg/bird %
Comp. 1 567 1179 64 91 6,7 5
Comp. 2 569 1173 71 91 6,7 6
Dekalb White 607 1196 77 97 6,7 1,6

During the rearing period the goal is to build the basis for the productive life of the laying hens. A good appetite will help to develop a good frame and the reproductive organs which are key for maintaining high persistency and overall condition later in life. A step-down (10 hours of light at plateau) and step-up (15 hours of light at 24 weeks) lighting program was used to steer the flock towards the peak of egg production.

Reaching the Genetic Potential

At 18 weeks of age, the birds were transferred from the rearing to the production house. The 3 different breeds were divided over 12 compartments (4 per breed). Each compartment consisted of Family nests (Fienhage), plastic slatted floors (Big Dutchman), and a scratching area. Feed was available ad libitum to the flock, and from each pen total feed intake was calculated. Egg production and mortalities have been recorded on a daily base, in the case of conspicuous animal losses, the determination of the cause of death was performed by the central laboratory of the Bavarian Animal Health Service. Egg quality research was conducted in their own research laboratory, measuring Haugh Units, eggshell breaking strength, and egg weights at various time points during the productive life.

When we expanded our breeding program almost 15 years ago, we had a clear goal in mind, to increase the total amount of 1st quality eggs produced for each hen housed. When looking to the total number of saleable eggs in the table below, you can see that our breeding efforts are definitely paying off. More than 13 saleable eggs more for each hen housed versus the LSL Classics, and almost saleable 20 eggs more when compared to the Novogen White. The premium performance in productivity of the Dekalb is proven here!

Age at 50% lay Eggs Hen housed # saleable eggs % lay hen housed eggmass HH Feed consumption HH daily feed intake HD Feed Conversion
Comp. 1 153 326,9 286,4 89,8 21,3 44,9 126,7 2,108
Comp. 2 152 320,9 279,8 88,1 20,2 42,6 123,7 2,105
Dekalb White 151 340,6 299,6 93,6 21,4 42,8 118,7 1,999

It’s all about first quality eggs

Not only the number of eggs that each laying hen produces contributes to the profitability of your egg farm, but especially the quality plays a major role to make money. Via our balanced breeding approach, we focus on both internal and external egg quality, and this all the way towards the end of the laying cycle. Our layers breeds do not only start at a very competitive level, they are also able to maintain egg quality towards the end, as the gap with their competitors is growing when the birds are getting older. Persistency in lay, persistency in egg quality and persistency in livability all contribute to these great achievements. Our breeding focus on flat egg weight curves allows our layer breeds to better utilize their resources to produce 1st quality eggs, and it allows them to be more persistent. All contributing towards the sustainability of the global egg sector!

Dirt eggs Broken eggs 2nds % BS 42 wks BS 67 wks Haugh Units 42 wks Haugh Units 67 Wks
Comp. 1 1,1 1,7 2,8 47,4 36,4 89,3 84
Comp. 2 0,8 2 2,8 44,5 34,7 91,1 86,3
Dekalb White 0,9 1,6 2,5 47,4 36,8 92,8 89

Focus on Animal Welfare

Intensive assessments on Animal Welfare parameters have been conducted as well. Scoring of the plumage cover, lesions on skin and toes, foot condition, and keel bones took place at various ages. The incidence of damage are often indirectly and indicator of behavioral abnormalities. The Dekalb showed the best ranking (i.e. lowest incidence) on all four welfare parameters towards the end. Next to poorer feather cover, higher prevalence of toe conditions and lesions and more keel bone damage, the competitors also showed higher mortalities. Where the LSL-Classics showed more than 3 times as high mortality, the Novogen Whites showed even 6 times as high mortality compared to the Dekalb. Imagine, that’s a whole load of extra labor and loss of eggs and therefor income.

infection cannibalism toe pecking accident other Total
Comp. 1 0,6% 1,1% 1,7% 0,2% 1,1% 4,7%
Comp. 2 1,1% 2,8% 3,0% 0,2% 2,6% 9,6%
Dkalb White 0,2% 0,4% 0,6% 0,0% 0,2% 1,5%

True Premium Performance

When looking to the results in more detail, we can conclude that the Dekalb White show premium performance in cage-free housing systems. We are proud to see that the hard work from all our employees at the breeding departments are clearly paying off, and have resulted in a laying hen that is able to perform well and that shows excellent behavior towards her fellow group members, resulting by far in the lowest mortality and highest quality all the way to the end of the laying cycle.

The data that is used in this article is derived from the official report made by the Bayerische Staatsgüter, Landwirtschaft gestalten published in June 2022.

Dekalb White aviary Ospel 4369.jpg

Vaccination Schedule

Age of vaccination Vaccination against
1. day Mareks Disease (MD)
2. days Salmonella Enteritidis + S. Typhimurium (SE+ST)
6. days coccidiosis
3. weeks Gumboro (IBD)
4. weeks Infectious Bronchitis (IB) / Newcastle Disease (ND)
7. weeks Salmonella Enteritidis + S. Typhimurium (SE+ST)
8. weeks Newcastle Disease (ND)
9. weeks Infectious Bronchitis (IB Ma 5)
10. weeks Mycoplasma synoviae (MS)
11. weeks Avian Encephalomyelitis (AE)
14. weeks Infectious Bronchitis (IB Ma 5)
16. weeks Newcastle Disease (ND)
18. weeks Salmonella Enteritidis + S. Typhimurium (SE+ST)
20. weeks Inactivated-Vaccine: Newcastle
Disease (ND) + Infectious Bronchitis (IB) + Egg Drop Syndrome (EDS) + ART
(Avian Pneumovirusinfection)

Dekalb logo with tagline 1

Discover more about the Dekalb White

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