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7 reasons your egg production is low

Every week, I get inquiries from farmers on social media seeking answers following a drop in egg production or complete delay in laying.

They will say, ‘Dr nothing has changed, I have been feeding them normally and yet they are producing fewer trays compared to the previous day or week.

What could be the problem?’ The average egg production per pullet with robust nutrition coupled with good animal husbandry practices and a comfortable environment is 95-96 per cent peak production.

This goes with livability of 92 per cent at 100 weeks of age with a body weight of 1.92-2.00 kg. As pullets come into production at 17-18 weeks of age, they may start egg production at 5-15 per cent and increase gradually to peak at 95 per cent in 10 weeks period at 28 weeks of age.

They will stay at peak for another 10 weeks before a gradual and steady decline of 0.3 per cent per week till the week of depopulation as spent hens.

These industry figures are for guidance purposes only as the local environment and disease pressure in your locality may present different figures.

Here are factors that need investigation in case of sudden drops or total delay in the onset of production.

1.     Disease incidences

Several poultry diseases are associated with egg production drops and poor eggshell quality. It is therefore imperative that poultry farmers seek the services of a qualified veterinarian to physically attend to the flocks to carry out intensive investigation on the health and conditions of the birds to rule out any disease involvement.

Diseases like Newcastle, Infectious bronchitis, Egg drop syndrome, and mycoplasmas can all contribute to this problem.

2.     Environmental disturbances

Sudden changes in the environment can impact heavily on the egg-laying rates. High or low temperatures, wind chills, and lighting intensity must be investigated. Avoid direct sunlight into the units and avoid dark corners in the units.

Keep the units well ventilated all the time and make sure that it is not dusty or filled with ammonia gas.

3.     Stocking density

Check the stocking density of the units. Overcrowding will affect the laying rate. Ensure that the birds have 2sq feet/ bird in-floor system. Ensure that killed vaccinations are done before pointing of lay and that the birds are comfortable against weather extremes, chilling, high temperatures and any abrupt feed change.

4.     Recent management changes

It is important that any changes done in the unit are done gradually and over a period. Feeders and drinkers should not be suddenly withdrawn or introduced. Once the birds are in production, activities like 100 per cent weighing, segregation, floor expansion, litter removal or addition must be done smoothly. Birds should be given multivitamins during those changes. Any recent occurrence must be reported and investigated.

5.     Water consumption rate

Water being the largest input must be thoroughly investigated. Check water quality, taste, colour, smell, and pressure on the waterlines to make sure there is no contamination or shortage.

The presence of coliforms in water is an indication that it has been contaminated by human or animal waste. Less than optimum water quality can have a significant impact on intestinal health which leads to under-utilisation of nutrients in feed.

A decrease in flock water consumption is the first sign of health problems.

6.     Feed allocation, distribution, and quality

Feeding regime and intake must be investigated in all egg drop conditions. Are you giving enough feed for the right population of birds?

Are the feeders sufficient and easily accessible to the birds? Underfed birds will appear small, poorly developed combs and wattles and if you feel the keel bone, there is less flesh cover. Such birds will not lay at all.

7.     Nutritional quality of feed analysis

A poorly formulated feed with low dietary nutrient concentrations may not meet nutrient requirements for the birds. This will automatically result in a drop in egg production or complete cessation of egg production. Sometimes feed may need to be analysed in the lab to a certain quality.

[The writer is Head Vet at Kenchic]

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