News and knowhow for farmers

Honey reduce heat stress, increase quality of eggs in poultry

Poultry farmers can use honey, guava or coconut juice to successfully contain stress in their birds and improve the quality of eggs, thanks to a recent study by the Federal University of Agriculture in Nigeria that shows that these product are antioxidant capable of removing toxins accumulated in the chicken body due to heat stress
This study is good news to poultry farmers in Kenya who according to the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries lose up to 30 per cent of their chicken annually due to stress mostly caused by heat, disease or food shortage. Most of them have been forced to erect expensive and high energy consuming heat regulators in poultry houses, incurring high production costs.
The 4 months research which involved 120 active layers showed that if just 10ml of honey is added in about a litre of drinking water, the egg quality and survival rate improve. The lead researcher Dr Monsuru Oladimeji Abioja explained that most hybrid layers are sensitive to high temperature during the hot season and, thus, a flock can suffer from heat stress, which is known to produce toxin in the bodies of the chicken, reducing egg quality and survival
The study explains that high environmental temperature leads to excretion of some minerals like calcium, iron and zinc which results in decreased bone strength. According to Dr. Abioja, heat stress showed deleterious effects by decreasing length and width of tibia, ash and its strength
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Fast-growing hybrid chicken as a result typically has significant skeletal problems and may suffer lameness. To avoid this, optimal poultry production in the hot season therefore requires an adequate and appropriate management system that can reduce the effects of heat stress to the minimum.
The optimum temperature for both layers and broilers should be 18 to 21°C beyond which the growth and welfare of the birds is compromised and survival rate lowered because of their responses to the stressor.
This finding qualifies another one conducted by the same university in 2012 that proved that addition of vitamin C to broilers’ drinking water could reduce rectal temperature and panting rate during afternoon in open-sided poultry house during hot-dry season. Vitamin C helps in inhibiting the secretion and release of corticosterone, which may be cytocytic at high concentration during stress episodes.
Although the study is not conclusive on the quality of honey, Dr.ABioja said that farmers should add 20ml to a litre of water and given to chicken for not more than four consecutive weeks. “This will be detrimental to the egg production. The best way would be to give it to the chicken for four weeks and thereafter take a break of two weeks and then continue if need be,” said the researcher.

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