1. One-day-old Taiwan Native Breeder female chicks were fed on maize/soybean growing diets without supplemental vitamin E from hatch to 17 weeks of age. After 17 weeks the birds (n = 300) were randomly assigned to 5 dietary treatments and fed on maize/soybean laying diets supplemented with 0, 40, 80, 120 and 160 mg/kg of vitamin E (dl-α-tocopherol acetate), respectively, until 46 weeks of age. The variates measured included: age at first egg, feed consumption (FC), feed efficiency (FE), egg production (EP), egg weight (EW), egg specific gravity (ESG), eggshell strength (ESS), fertility and hatchability. 2. The addition of 120 mg/kg of vitamin E lowered the first EW (P < 0.05); however, there was no significant difference in the age or body weight (BW) of pullets at first egg or mortality rate to 46 weeks of age among the treatments. FE and egg mass were improved (P < 0.05) in pullets fed 80 mg/kg of supplemental vitamin E. A significant increase in EP was observed after peak EP in pullets given 80 mg/kg of supplemental vitamin E. However, this favourable effect decreased as supplemental vitamin E exceeded 80 mg/kg. 3. From 17 to 46 weeks of age, egg quality (ESG and ESS) decreased with age. However, there was no correlation between age and fertility or hatchability during the experimental period, suggesting that egg quality is more age-sensitive than reproductive performance for breeder pullets. 4. Compared with the control, fertility and hatchability of all eggs set for the treatment with 80 mg/kg supplemental vitamin E increased by 7.7 and 13.4%, respectively. There was no difference in the hatchability of fertile eggs. 5. These results suggest that using supplemental vitamin E during the laying period can improve the reproductive performance of breeder pullets. The addition of 80 mg/kg of vitamin E obtained the best performance in EP, egg mass, FE (feed/egg), hatchability and fertility.
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