41 41 LOHMANN TIERZUCHT › MANAGEMENT GUIDE Protein / Amino acids levels & Egg weight Feed intake capacity development Feed form and presentation Protein and aminoacid levels in alter- native production should be carefully considered since a higher feed intake is expected. Maintaining the same protein/ami- noacid levels as in a conventional system could lead to an undesirable egg size. Therefore, when formulating the rations, the protein/energy ratio should be balanced accordingly. There are two main organs directly involved in feed intake capacity. The crop and the gizzard. The crop’s function is related to the storage and moistening of the feed, while enhancing the exoge-nous en- zymes activity. The main role of the gizzard is the mechanical digestive process of re- ducing particle size and regulat-ing feed particle flow. Their Functionality can be enhanced by feeding homogenous coarse mash diets: The consumption of a mash diet can contribute to a well-developed giz- zard leading to associated bene-fits such as gut motility improvement, increased contact time between nu- trients and enzymes and a better nu- trient digestibility. The development of both the crop and gizzard depends on fibre content (structural ingredients), feed pres- entation, particle size distribution (its development has been proven in many studies using coarse ingre- dients- see feed form and presenta- tion chapter), lighting and feeding pattern. Implementing an effective feed dis- tribution program and early encour- agement to feed at least once a day to an empty trough, may increase av- erage retention time and feed-hold- ing capacity of both the crop and giz- zard therefore promoting higher feed intake capacity which will optimise the performance level of the pullet. Feed consumption of pullets and lay- ers is influenced by feed form and presentation. Regardless of the nutrient pro- file, pullets and laying hens have a marked preference for grains (easy to recognize), like most of nature they tend to refuse fine particles. Generally, we have the option of presenting our diets in the form of mash, crumbs or pellets. Gizzard Crop Pellet Mash Crumb