Feed formulations for US white layers in the production phase

Collection of white layer feed formulas for one extended egg cycle in the production phase (Weeks 18 to 100)

Ioannis Mavromichalis, Ph.D.

These generic formulas have been designed having a target feed intake of 100 grams/bird for the entire egg cycle. Exact energy and protein (amino acids) requirements can vary depending on genetic line, body weight, egg size and numbers, temperature, and housing system.

All the above will determine actual dietary specifications for each farm. Thus, these formulas give a reference point on how layer formulas are structured.


The main energy source in the U.S. remains corn, with soybean oil — or any other inexpensive but good-quality lipid source — being used to bring dietary energy levels to relatively high numbers.

Energy levels drop as birds age because feed intake capacity increases faster than maintenance requirements as body weight reaches mature levels. A reduction of about 50 Kcal ME per kg feed is considered a good rule of thumb for each phase.

Downloadable PDF: US white layers in the production phase of an extended egg cycle - Layer 1


Soybean meal is used as the main protein source, whereas DDGS is an inexpensive protein supplement that is still being used in the U.S. The level of 6% DDGS used here is to denote its presence and not any inclusion level recommendations.

These formulas are formulated so that enough soybean meal covers the requirement for digestible lysine, whereas feed-grade DL-methionine is used to cover the remaining methionine and cysteine combined requirements. Once this is done, all other amino acids are at or above requirements levels.

Minerals and vitamins

Calcium is the main mineral that affects eggshell formation and quality. Layers require large amounts of calcium and this is reflected by the unusually high levels of dietary calcium (3.8 to 4.6%) in all layer formulas. Phosphorus is supplied just above its required levels to avoid interfering with the absorption of calcium.

Likewise, sodium bicarbonate is used to supply enough chlorine, whereas the remaining sodium requirements are met by sodium chloride (salt). With enough soybean meal in the diet, total potassium levels are enough (more than 0.7%) to bring the dietary electrolyte balance above 200 mEq/kg, which is considered minimum for eggshell quality and litter quality.

All trace minerals are to be supplied by a suitable premix which is separate from the vitamins to ensure vitamin stability. This is also why choline chloride (an aggressive vitamin) is supplied outside the usual premix.

Finally, some citric acid is included as it has been shown to improve calcium digestibility and absorption, although this is not always followed.

Downloadable PDF: US white layers in the production phase of an extended egg cycle - Layer 2

Feeding schedule

The pullets are fed a pre-layer diet (same as the Layer 1 formula, only with 2.2% instead of 4.2% calcium) until they reach about 2% egg numbers. Then, the Layer 1 formula is used until daily egg mass starts to decline. This is determined by the genetic line used.

Then Layer 2 feed is used until week 80 — again as determined by the genetic supplier — to be followed by Layer 3 until the end of the cycle (usually at 100+ weeks). Such an example program can be as follows:

Until 50 weeks = Layer 1

50-80 weeks = Layer 2

80+ weeks = Layer 3

It should be noted that, as hens age, their feed intake capacity increases, but their ability to digest, absorb and metabolize dietary calcium diminishes. Hence the increased calcium concentration in the final feed.

Downloadable PDF: US white layers in the production phase of an extended egg cycle - Layer 3

Alternative ingredients

Wheat and sorghum are used frequently, whereas some poultry byproduct meal and higher levels of DDGS may be common in some areas. Canola meal can also be used as a protein source.

Of course, more feed-grade amino acids can be used to lower the dependence on wholesome protein sources, but this is dictated by prices and preference. When such ingredients are used, the attention should be paid to vitamins and minerals – the former because requirements are ill defined, and the latter because they can alter the dEB sufficiently to cause eggshell quality problems, especially during the summer season.

Download the spreadsheet

Layer Feed Formulations are available in a downloadable MS Excel spreadsheet, which includes four sets of formulas — U.S. white and EU red in the development and production phases — with three variations each: starter, grower and developer.

DOWNLOAD Layer Feed Formulations

Additional installments in the Layer Feed Formulations series:

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