LOHMANN TIERZUCHT continues to invest in the infrastructure of the breeding programme. Following
the construction of a new, state of the art breeding farm in Canada in 2013 and 2014 and the complete
renovation of a former parentstock farm of Spanish distributor IBERTEC into a breeding farm, the next
step for expansion was the development of a new location in Scotland.
New location in Scotland
A plot of land was purchased two years
ago (shortly before the Brexit referendum)
not far from the city of Perth, about one
hour by car north of Edinburgh. The site
was earmarked for the construction of a
new breeding farm from scratch.
is approximately 26,000 females and
5,000 males. The first birds were housed in
May 2018 and a new team successfully
started genetic registration work. With the
expansion of the pure line testing capacity,
higher selection intensity and greater accuracy
in the selection decisions based on
genomic information, the rate of genetic
gain is expected to further increase.
Safeguarding future genetic progress
This huge investment in the growth of the
breeding programme and expansion of
the testing capacity is a big step towards
safeguarding the future developments of
genetic progress. The increased economic
merit in the pure line population will be
transferred down the breeding pyramid
to grandparents, parents and commercial
Of course, the breeding goals
need to be defined as closely as possible
to the needs of commercial egg producers.
For this reason, the LOHMANN team
maintains very close contact with customers
to observe market needs and identify
fields for further improvement of our birds.
Due to this close collaboration, LOHMANN
layers continue to gain a market share in
many countries around the globe.
New equipment for floor testing
- Persistency: the persistency of lay is
the economically most important trait.
The productive life of the flocks has increased
in the past ten years by approximately
five weeks, this means one more
week of age every two years before
flocks go to slaughter.
- Shell strength: this longer life of the
flocks can only be achieved if the eggs
produced at an older age are still suitable
for grading, without too many
- No later start of lay: maintain and
slightly increase the sexual maturity
- Nesting behaviour
In cooperation with “Big Dutchman”, a new
version of the Weihenstephan funnel nest
box was developed. After 10 years of experience
with the proven layout, the status of
the technological component was brought
up-to-date. An additional house at a breeding
farm in the Cuxhaven region was
equipped with this revised version, and the
first results are available for the selection.
Big is beautiful – update on body
weight recommendations in rearing
of LOHMANN commercial layers
The LOHMANN body weight standards
for the rearing period of commercial hens
have remained unchanged for a very long
time. Other than the performance standards
for the laying performance, there is
no genetic progress in the body weight
that needs to be adjusted in an updated
However, the management recommendations
in the guides need to be
periodically reviewed to ensure they are
still current in a changing environment.
Body weight growth during rearing
is a process that must focus on preparing
the birds to fulfill their high genetic potential
of a really high egg mass output in
the laying cycle.
This egg mass production
has increased in the past years through a
higher peak, a prolonged productive life and a more challenging environment for
the birds, especially in the cage-free world.
For this reason, the birds need to be better
prepared for the challenging laying cycle
by a better body weight.
As the reproductive
organs already start developing at 15
weeks of age, feed restriction after this age
has a clearly negative impact on the performance
potential of the hen. Any feed
restriction, especially after 15 weeks of age,
should be avoided.
If flocks are overweight
before 15 weeks of age, common practice
is still often to bring them back to “target”
weight or try to limit any further increase
in overweight by restrictions in feeding
time or feeding space, for example. To
avoid this, and to stimulate better growth
at the end of rearing, it was decided to increase
the body weight standards.
This increased body weight standard
has already been implemented for the
LSL LITE management programme. It
will be published
and implemented for
all other breeds in the management
guides in early 2019.
It must be explicitly understood that
this increase does not reflect a genetic
change in the birds: it is solely a change
and update in the management recommendations.
The basis for this update was
a review of body weight results from field
data, showing a clear performance advantage,
lower mortality and better feather
cover in flocks with a reasonable “overweight”
of 50 – 100 g above the old body
Please note that, together with this
update of the body weight standards, we
will also change the recommendations for
the lighting programme.
The old version
with a light stimulation at 19 weeks of age
is outdated and stimulation is too late. To
achieve a good start of lay, it is no problem
for a well-developed pullet to be stimulated
at 17 weeks of age with a body weight
of approx. 1250 g.
High investments in the breeding programme
have been made to maintain the
leading position of LTZ in the global layer
genetic market. New breeding farms and
further development of the genomic evaluation
are the foundation of future development.
Investments in additional cage
and floor testing capacity have been made
to increase the accuracy and relevancy of
the testing results for an actual improvement
of the birds’ performance profile.
There is a complete focus on efficient egg
production and robust birds, able to adapt
to the wide range of different environments
in the egg production world.
Table: Comparison of old and new body weight standard LSL LITE
Dr. Matthias Schmutz