Ahemeral lighting of turkey breeder hens. 2. Early age at lighting and reproductive performance.
A study was conducted to determine the effective range of light-dark cycle lengths for reproductive performance in turkey hens. The treatments consisted of seven different light-dark cycle lengths: 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, and 30 h each with a 15-h photophase per cycle. Data were collected for BW, feed intake, livability, onset and rate of egg production, egg weight (EW), shell thickness, and weight of egg components. The results indicate that turkey hens can be induced to lay eggs with light-dark cycle lengths other than 24 h (ahemeral) with practical extremes being about 23 to 28 h. Egg production in the ahemeral treatments never significantly exceeded that occurring in the 24 h group and the percentage of floor eggs increased at cycle lengths greater than 26 h and at 21 h. Cycle lengths of 21 and 30 h provided the most extreme deviations in the quantity and quality of eggs from those obtained on a 24 h cycle length. Shell thickness increased consistently as cycle lengths increased from 23 to 30 h. Egg weight increased in a curvilinear manner as cycle lengths increased or decreased from 24 h. This increase was associated with increases in shell, yolk, and albumen weight; however, the contribution by each was inconsistent, varying by cycle length as well as time on treatment. It may be concluded that an effective practical range of light-dark cycles for turkeys is 23 to 28 h and that 28 h is a reasonable limit to maximize EW and shell thickness while minimizing a reduction in egg production.