Faridi, A., Golian, A. and France, J. 2012. Evaluating the egg production of broiler breeder hens in response to dietary nutrient intake from 31 to 60 weeks of age through neural network models. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 92: 473-481. The aim of this study was to evaluate the response of broiler breeder hens in terms of egg production to dietary nutrient intake. Using neural network (NN) models and breaking down the collected data from 98 commercial broiler breeder houses into 3-wk intervals, 10 NN-based models were developed from 31 to 60 wk of age. The data lines were divided into two random subsets of training (n=64) and testing (n=34) sets. The variables of interest for developing the models were metabolizable energy (ME; kcal bird-1 d-1), and crude protein (CP), total sulphur amino acids (TSAA), lysine (Lys), calcium (Ca) and available phosphorus (AP), all in g bird-1 d-1. The random optimization algorithm was applied to the constructed models to find the optimal level of the input variables which maximized egg production during the different intervals. The high R2 values in all the developed models for both the training and testing sets indicate the accuracy of NN-based models in estimating egg production. The optimization results revealed that breeder hens consuming 485, 473, 471, 466, 460, 452, 448, 442, 437 and 445 kcal of ME bird-1 d-1 showed the highest egg production during the 10 consecutive 3-wk intervals from 31 to 60 wk of age, respectively. Moreover, the optimal performance of hens required the following average intakes from 31 to 60 wk of age (g bird-1 d-1): CP: 23.7; TSAA: 1.05; Lys: 1.07; Ca: 4.91; and AP: 0.58. The results show that energy (kcal bird-1 d-1) and other nutrient requirements (g bird-1 d-1) of broiler breeder hens from 31 to 60 wk of age do not change in consort together with age; therefore using different diets with different dietary nutrient levels during the production cycle may help the nutritionists better meet the requirements of broiler breeder hens. Based on the present study, it appears that company guideline recommendations may underestimate the nutrient requirements of hens during these weeks when egg production is declining gradually.
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