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CHICKEN STOPPED LAYING EGGS – ADDRESSING THE ISSUES

Factors Affecting Egg Yield in Poultry Farms

When there is a drop in egg yield on a farm, one or more of the following factors must be responsible:

  1. Disease setting in worms in the intestines ectoparasites on the body won’t let them settle down to feed enough.
  2. Birds not drinking enough water.
  3. Feed is not adequately balanced, and birds are not taking enough ration (perhaps due to overfeeding with green vegetables).
  4. Birds undergoing molting of feathers.
  5. Sudden change in ration
  6. Birds  under treatment with some classes of drugs known to drop production (e.g., Sulphonamides)
  7. Birds recently vaccinated, and undergoing vaccination reaction.
  8. Birds recently moved from their old place to a new place.
  9. Bad laying season of the year (usually June to August).
  10. Birds frightened by strange noises or sights.

Let us briefly deal with how these factors cause reductions in egg production.

Impact of Diseases on Egg Production in Poultry

Understanding the Causes of Decreased Egg Production

 Several diseases are known to cause a drop in egg production. Some of them achieve this by inducing anorexia (lack of appetite). Others achieve this by elevating the body temperature and leading to increased loss of calories, while others still achieve this by parlay sing or reducing the efficiency of the egg-making processes or machinery. A disease like Newcastle can completely stop egg production due to the harmful effect of the causative viral agents on the nervous control of the egg-making organs.

The Role of Intestinal Worms in Reducing Egg Yield

Intestinal worms compete with the blood capillaries of the intestine for the feed eaten by the fowl. While the digested meal is supposed to be assimilated through these capillaries and taken to the ovary and oviduct for the processes of egg-making, intestinal worms absorb some of this digested food thus reducing the quantity going for egg-making. The tape-worms and large roundworms are worse culprits here.

Ectoparasites and Their Effect on Egg Production in Poultry

Ectoparasites (parasites found on the body) like lice, fleas, and mites, disturb the feeding of the fowls and suck the blood out of them. Much feeding time is spent scratching with their beaks all over the body as the insects disturb them. Some of the blood which would have gone into supplying the needed ingredients for egg-making is lost to the insects which feed on the tiny skin capillaries.

With broody hens isolated to hatch fertilized eggs for small-hold or backyard poultry-keeping, the ectoparasites just won’t let them sit for a few minutes on the eggs, so such eggs have little chance of hatching. (Broody hens are priced assets to small-hold farmers who cannot afford the cost of even the smallest incubator)

Importance of Proper Water Intake for Maximizing Egg Production

 Water forms more than 80% of the egg. So, if enough water is not fed to layers, egg production becomes adversely affected

The Significance of Balanced Feed in Maintaining High Egg Yield

 If the feed lacks some ingredients essential for egg-making,  production drops,   some of these ingredients affect production more than others. For instance, a flock fed much less than 15% crude protein is bound to suffer a serious drop in production. Similarly, low levels of Thiamine.   riboflavin, pyridoxine pantothenic acid, or any member of the V.P Matthill group  could adversely  affect food digestibility and assimilability leading to reduced egg yield;

Poor ingestion of ration may be due to feeding higher than 2% green vegetables, mouth lesions like wet-pox or due to unpalatability of allocation caused by bitter drugs added to provide), or improperly constituted ration.

When birds are undergoing molting, there is usually a drop in egg production, but as soon as the molting is over less food now goes into supplying nutrients to feathers. Consequently, a good deal of the ration goes into egg production and production increases.

Exploring the Effects of Sudden Changes in Ration on Egg Production

Molting affects egg laying, but after it’s over, more nutrients are available for egg production which increases egg laying. When molting subsides, the birds are again restored to normal water intake. Egg production is claimed to be very highly stepped up thereafter. (This author has not carried out sufficient investigation and research into this claim to be able to come out with his concrete findings and opinion on this.

Sudden change in the type of ration has been known to constitute stress to layers sufficient to drop egg production. It is therefore recommended good husbandry practice adopt a piece-meal approach towards any need for a change in ration source. This piecemeal or gradual change is spread out over seven days. The table below shows the recommended pattern of change.

Drug Usage and its Impact on Egg Yield in Poultry

Certain drugs are known to adversely affect egg production. Consequently, the use of such drugs is restricted to growers and cockerels. Where however such drugs are the only available ones for application to layers, a drop in production should therefore not come as a surprise. Many sulphonamides are known to cause such drops.

Vaccination Reaction and its Temporary Effect on Egg Production

Recently vaccinated layers drop in egg production. During the vaccination reaction, the weakened micro­organisms introduced into the body soon start to cause a mild form of the disease which they have been created to cause. In the process, the host develops antibodies and consequently becomes immune. Some of the symptoms of the disease caused may include lack of appetite, fever, mild cough, etc. During the period when these symptoms are shown, the flock is said to be undergoing a vaccination reaction, and they often drop in production until the period is over. It usually does not last more than a few days.

Understanding the Influence of Bird Movement on Egg Yield

 The movement of birds constitutes a stress factor that adversely affects egg yield. More energy is lost and this must be replaced first before the egg factory can receive its quota of ration. Consequently, the flock spends the next day’s ration replacing energy drawn from the energy storehouses in the birds, and this leads to low production. Another factor here is psychological.
Finding themselves in a new and strange environment, all attention is focused on the defense system of the bird-filled with fear and apprehension or why they have been brought to the new place, the whole nerves are alert, and like a city gripped with fear of an impending attack there is reduced production, and this goes on awhile until the tensed-up nerves become relaxed once more and the anxiety is gone. At this time, normal egg production is restored.

Seasonal Variations in Egg Production and Strategies for Optimization

Some seasons of the year are known as bad laying seasons, and egg production is expected to drop. The best laying season runs from September to April or May. It is therefore better to order chicks to arrive by March or April. This will enable them to commence laying during the good laying season. If chicks were hatched, say in July, they would start to lay by January. This leaves them only about 2-3 months of the good season. As soon as the rains come, their production drops, and by the time the next good laying season shows up in September or October, they shall have passed over their pullet year.

Psychological Factors and Their Role in Egg Production in Poultry

DaysOld RationNew Ration
1st day90%10%
2nd”80%20%
3rd “60%40%
4th “50%50%
5th ‘”40%60%
6th “20%80%
7th “10%90%
8th0%100%

and consequently, age would be against their giving a good production like their yet-pullet counterparts. Thus the overall profit derived from such a flock is much lower than those hatched in March or April.( 13) Strange the noise like those of newly installed engines in the vicinity, the noise of other animals, loud horns of vehicles, etc. can reduce production if such noise keeps coming on and off, However, if it continues, the birds later get used to it after some days or weeks, and normal production returns. Similarly, strange objects or activities can instill fear in the flock and lower production for that particular day. By the next day or so, they get used to seeing it and realize that there is no danger inherent in such sight, thus restoring normal production.

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