I have been rearing Kienyeji chickens for the past two years and for the last three months, they have been eating their eggs, which has really affected my production. What could be the issue?ย 

-Pauline Muchiku

Chickens need a balanced diet to produce eggs, meat and develop resistance to diseases. To provide a balanced diet, poultry feed must contain all the necessary nutrients.

These include proteins, energy, minerals and vitamins. Minerals are important for bone formation, eggshell development and for an optimal health status.

The most important minerals for laying birds are calcium and phosphorous. If there is a deficiency in calcium, chickens can get it from eggs.

They can also eat the eggs if the environment has challenges like overcrowding or if the birds are bored. The egg-eating challenge can be alleviated through housing and feeding.

Ensure the house allows in sunlight. This provides Vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption. In feeding, the calcium: phosphorus ratio should be high (6:1).

To avoid boredom, hang bunches of leafy vegetables such as sukuma wiki (collard greens) about one-and-a-half to two feet above the ground at strategic positions in the poultry house.

This keeps the birds busy as they try to reach the vegetables, hence reduced interest in eggs. Further, the vegetables are a rich source of calcium.

The birds can also be supplemented with calcium salts such as Dicalcium Phosphate (DCP). Other alternatives include supplementation with high calcium sources such as bone meal, burned/crushed egg shells, milk, limestone and fish meal, among others.

For birds under free-range management, sunlight and green grass or green fodder normally provide calcium and vitamin D and are, therefore, unlikely to engage in the egg-eating vice. Feed sources with high calcium levels include grass, legumes and vegetable wastes.

READ ALSO:   Why hens eat eggs, prevention and cure

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