The effects of phytase and root hydroalcoholic extract of Withania somnifera on productive performance and bone mineralisation of laying hens in the late phase of production

Br Poult Sci. 2012;53(2):204-14. doi: 10.1080/00071668.2012.662628.


1. A 6-week study was conducted to investigate the effects of phytase and hydroalcoholic extract of Withania somnifera root (WS) on productive performance and bone mineralisation of laying hens in the late phase of production. 2. Diets were arranged factorially (3 × 2 × 2) and consisted of a positive control with adequate Ca (4·37%) and nonphytate P (NPP; 0·39%) and a negative control diet with Ca (4·06%) and NPP (0·36 %); three concentrations of Withania somnifera (0, 65 and 130 mg/kg diet); and two concentrations of microbial phytase (0 and 300 U/kg diet). 3. A total of 144 72-week-old Hy-Line W36 laying hens were randomly assigned to the 12 treatment groups. Each treatment was replicated 4 times (4 x 3 hens). Egg production and egg weight were recorded daily, while feed intake and egg quality traits were recorded every two weeks. Bone quality traits were evaluated at the end of experiment. 4. Withania somnifera supplementation increased egg production and lowered egg weight only in the second two weeks of the experiment. Addition of phytase significantly depressed specific gravity of the eggs for the entire experiment period. No dietary treatment effects were observed on egg shell thickness and yolk weight. 5. Withania somnifera at 130 mg/kg did not affect feed intake. The hens fed on the positive control diet had higher albumen weight than the negative control diet in the second two-week period. Supplementation of the positive control diet with 65 mg/kg Withania somnifera in the absence of phytase significantly improved shell weight compared with the negative control (5·779 vs. 5·273 g respectively). 6. Supplementing Withania somnifera significantly improved Ca and P retention in tibia bone. In addition, an increase in tibia bone P was observed with phytase supplementation. There were significant interactions between Withania somnifera content and phytase for tibia bone Ca and P. 7. The results of this experiment indicated that dietary Withania somnifera has beneficial effects on tibia bone Ca and P content, and phytase improved tibia bone P retention without adverse effects on productive performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 6-Phytase / pharmacology*
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Calcification, Physiologic / drug effects*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Chickens / physiology*
  • Diet / veterinary
  • Egg Shell / drug effects
  • Female
  • Oviposition / drug effects
  • Phosphorus / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Tibia / drug effects
  • Tibia / metabolism
  • Withania / chemistry*


  • Plant Extracts
  • Phosphorus
  • 6-Phytase
  • Calcium