Factors decreasing egg production
Poultry systems for egg production need to be aware of the factors that decrease this performance parameter.
Poultry systems for egg production need to be aware of the factors that decrease this performance parameter.
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The success of poultry production dedicated to egg production is based on the productive performance of the poultry. There are many factors of non-infectious and infectious origin that can impact laying hens.
Egg production in hens lasts approximately 23 hours. At this stage, multiple factors can increase this time or even prevent egg formation. Therefore, it is of great importance in poultry farming to know these causes and prevent them in time. These factors must be considered in both laying hens and breeding poultry.
Non-infectious causes of decreased egg production
Several factors can affect egg production of non-infectious origin. Among these factors are age, nutrition and water supply, environmental conditions such as light and stress, and processes such as molting.
Egg production is closely related to the age of the laying poultry. Therefore, as hens age, laying may decrease. Poultry starts laying eggs at about 18-22 weeks of age (5 months of life). Then, this lay can reach peak production of 90% in the first 8 weeks. Subsequently, it starts to decrease to 65% after 12 months of production. On the other hand, as the hen ages, the eggs may have changes at the level of their shell and size.
Nutrition is certainly the most important factor in poultry farming for all its implications. Proper nutrition and supply of balanced and sufficient feed are necessary to maintain adequate egg production. Among some of the most important nutrients are
- Energy: energy in the diet is a factor of great importance since laying is a process that requires a considerable amount of energy. Therefore, a diet with sufficient energy should be offered.
- Protein: Protein is the main component in laying since eggs are a product with high protein value. Therefore, enough protein must be supplied in the diet to avoid a decrease in egg-laying.
- Calcium: it is a necessary element in the diet since it participates mainly in the formation of the eggshell. The calcium requirement in laying hens is close to 3.25% of the diet. If not, enough calcium is administered, egg formation can be compromised, and egg-laying can be reduced.
- Vitamin D: This vitamin regulates calcium absorption at the intestinal level, so it is essential to ensure its supply in the diet.
There are many more components, elements, and vitamins that are essential in the diet of laying hens. When these are deficient, egg production may begin to decline. Nutrition recommendations should be followed according to each stage of production: initiation, growth, development, pre-laying, and laying.
Water consumption in poultry is an important parameter since water is vital for all physiological processes. Egg production depends to a large extent on the hydration status of the hens. In general, water is involved in all physiological processes as it makes up the intracellular and extracellular fluid. For egg formation, water is required, and poultry must consume it according to their needs.
Water deficit or dehydration is a factor that greatly decreases egg production. Among the causes of these are:
- Water temperature is high and decreases water consumption.
- Water temperature drops excessively and freezes in the supply system.
- Excess salts in the water
- Water troughs in poor condition or insufficient
- Presence of medications or substances that sour the taste of the water.
Light is included among the factors that affect poultry laying. Lighting generates several reactions and hormonal cascades that favor egg production. In times of low light such as winter or use of low daylight hours, egg production may decrease. Thus, it is recommended that the poultry have between 14-16 hours of light and 8 hours of darkness to manage adequate laying and resting. On the other hand, this decrease in light is also a factor that favors the onset of the molting period, during which laying decreases.
Laying hens are susceptible to stress states due to their nature as prey animals. Therefore, sudden changes of any kind should be avoided: temperature, feed, humidity, noise, location, flocks, predators. In addition, diseases themselves cause stress in the poultry due to the symptoms they generate. If stress is high, egg production starts to decrease significantly. Therefore, producers should take care to maintain the best environmental and surroundings conditions in the poultry houses where the poultry remain calm.
Birds have natural molting periods during their lives to renew their feathers. Feathers are of great importance as they are a physical skin barrier and have a vital thermoregulatory function for laying hens. Molting occurs every year and during that period time egg production decreases drastically. All available nutrients are diverted from egg production to the generation of new feathers. Therefore, laying decreases for a few weeks while the poultry is being replaced. During this period, it is recommended to increase the protein level in laying hens to accelerate the molting process and restart laying.
During laying, pathologies of the reproductive system related to the poultry’s laying can appear. Generally, these problems are related to the poultry’s oviduct. An example is egg retention, which can be fatal.
Poultry lay eggs to reproduce and may enter periods of broodiness. At this stage, the hen stops laying eggs as they focus their energy on incubating the last eggs laid. To prevent hens from having broodiness, it is recommended to isolate them from the group in areas where they do not have nests. In this way, they quickly pass the physiological state of broodiness and restart laying.
Factors of infectious origin that affect laying
There are factors of infectious and parasitic origin that can affect egg production in hens. Disease processes have multiple effects on the different organ systems of animals. These diseases demand a great amount of energy and generate nutrient deficiencies due to processes such as diarrhea, fever, inflammation, or lesions, among others.
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There are a great number of external parasites that affect poultry by generating anemia, allergies, irritation, and secondary infections. Among these external parasites are lice (Menopon gallinae), fleas (Echidnophaga gallinacea), mites (Dermanyssus gallinae), flies, and ticks (Argas spp.). These parasites cause a decrease in the poultry posture and must be prevented and treated.
Helminths (internal parasites)
Helminths comprise internal parasites of three types: cestodes, nematodes, and trematodes. These worms invade different systems and organs and cause a wide range of lesions in laying hens. There is a large group of helminths that are parasites of the digestive system which affect the feeding processes of the poultry. As a result, laying is reduced. Among the most common examples of these parasites are:
- Nematodes: Ascaridia galli, Heterakis gallinarum, Capillaria.
- Cestodes: Raillietina
Coccidiosis is one of the most important diseases in poultry farming, caused by protozoa of the genus Eimeria spp. It has a marked effect on the digestive system of hens, preventing the correct absorption of nutrients; posture is affected in coccidiosis.
There are many bacteria that cause infectious diseases in laying hen houses. Like viruses, bacteria also have systemic effects.
- Mycoplasma gallisepticum
- Fowl cholera (Pasteurella multocida)
- Infectious coryza (Avibacterium paragallinarum)
- Colibacillosis ( coli)
- Salmonellosis (Salmonella enterica enterica serovar Enteritidis
Mycotoxins are not infectious agents, but toxic metabolites produced by fungi that contaminate poultry feed. These mycotoxins seriously affect poultry as they are the animals most susceptible to these molecules. Among the mycotoxins that most affect laying hens are aflatoxin, trichothecene, and ochratoxin.
Intestinal optimizer and conditioner pronutrients: key for laying
The laying of hens can be affected by multiple causes as mentioned above. Therefore, it is advisable to supply productive products that enhance the digestive system and the immune system of the poultry. In this way, the poultry have an optimal state to resist incoming pathogens.
Pronutrients intestinal optimizers such as Alquernat Zycox optimize the intestinal mucosa and normalize the activity of the local immune system of the digestive tract. Thanks to this effect, coccidial parasitism (Eimeria) is interrupted and enterocytes are not affected. In addition, the intestinal mucosa remains healthy for nutrient absorption. This product is an alternative to coccidiostats. Field trials have been carried out in Colombia where a reduction in mortality and improvement in productivity of poultry treated with Alquernat Zycox was observed.
Another alternative is the intestinal conditioner pronutrients, marketed under the name Alquernat Nebsui. This product improves the condition of the intestinal epithelium by promoting the regeneration of enterocytes. This effect allows better absorption of nutrients and can replace antibiotic growth promoters. Field trials in Colombia with Alquernat Nebsui it was found that in breeders there is an improvement in the production of fertile eggs and a decrease in the incidence of dirty eggs. Other studies have found that this pronutrient improves the laying index, feed conversion rate and provides greater eggshell thickness.
Finally, there are products such as Alquerfeed Layers and Alquerfeed Ovoponedoras that improve eggshell quality. The poultry can be subjected to term stress which hinders the egg production process. These vitamin and mineral supplements are added to the water, and work by decreasing calcium loss in the kidney. In this way, the poultry have greater availability of calcium for eggshell formation and thus egg laying is maintained.
The success of poultry farming depends on the production of eggs from laying hens and breeders. There are many factors that decrease laying, and they are of non-infectious and infectious origin. On the one hand, there are bird-related factors such as age, molting, stress, broodiness, and reproductive problems. On the other hand, environmental factors such as water supply, nutrition, and lighting also affect egg production.
There are also factors of infectious origin that decrease egg-laying in hens. Among these are of parasitic origin, where arthropods such as lice, fleas, mites, ticks, and flies stand out. In addition, there are also internal parasites such as helminths, which mainly include nematodes and cestodes. Coccidiosis is a protozoan of great impact in poultry farming that decreases the posture of poultry. In addition, there is a large group of infectious agents in the group of viruses and bacteria that have systemic effects. Finally, mycotoxins are toxic metabolites of fungal origin that must be considered.
At any given time, all these causes can occur in poultry houses and cause problems in hen egg production. Among the strategies to implement in poultry farming, there are intestinal conditioner pronutrients that promote animal welfare. This improves the laying hens rate and egg characteristics.