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AyeAyeMagpie

Can bigger eggs be forced?

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I'm hoping you are able to help me fact-check a post that I came across on social media. It's been stated that consumer demand for large eggs is causing poultry farmers to force their chickens to lay bigger eggs, putting strain on the birds and resulting in blood smears on the egg shells. 

Does anyone have any factual information with which to support or dispute this claim? Any articles or reports on the subject in the public domain? I'm struggling to fact check it by myself.

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I think it is probably some scaremongering. You can't 'force' birds to lay bigger eggs, what you can do though, is select hybrids which contain breeds i.e Leghorn, which are known to lay larger eggs. It wouldn't be in their interest to have their hens laying massive eggs as they would be much more prone to prolapsing and then they'd have to get new birds in.

Hen's will generally start off their laying career producing smaller eggs, but as they get older, they'll lay fewer, but bigger eggs. Having said that, most commercial set-ups will replace their birds once they get past 72 weeks as that is judged to be their time of optimum yield Vs possible health concerns/less eggs. The latter means that they would be less financially viable.

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No idea if it can be forced.  We had one chicken who naturally laid huge double-yolkers, occasionally twice a day! Something wasn’t quite right with her egg laying system.  She didn’t live long.  Think it just took too much out of her 😔

Edited by ajm200
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Nope, you can't force chickens to lay bigger eggs sounds like scaremongering as with a lot of these things.

The only thing I can think is that they would keep a flock through the moult and have them lay through their second year to produce bigger eggs.

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You could selectively breed hens to lay larger eggs though. And I suppose it could be possible to select for larger eggs despite the fact that some parts of the physiology hadn’t kept up with that. In the same way that dogs can be bred with lots of saggy skin around the face but their respiratory system hasn’t also changed and so they have breathing problems.

I’m just thinking out loud here though - I have no idea if this actually happens.

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33 minutes ago, mullethunter said:

You could selectively breed hens to lay larger eggs though. And I suppose it could be possible to select for larger eggs despite the fact that some parts of the physiology hadn’t kept up with that. In the same way that dogs can be bred with lots of saggy skin around the face but their respiratory system hasn’t also changed and so they have breathing problems.

I’m just thinking out loud here though - I have no idea if this actually happens.

I hope it isn’t happening.  I think it is awful that animals are breed for characteristics that suit humans to the detriment of the animal’s health. 

Violet, our chicken who laid double hollers most days, wasn’t a healthy chicken.  She used to have prolapses and a dirty bottom  quite often.  Eventually she went through a moult that never seemed to end and just faded away despite lots of love, good food and supplements

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20 hours ago, mullethunter said:

You could selectively breed hens to lay larger eggs though. And I suppose it could be possible to select for larger eggs despite the fact that some parts of the physiology hadn’t kept up with that. In the same way that dogs can be bred with lots of saggy skin around the face but their respiratory system hasn’t also changed and so they have breathing problems.

I’m just thinking out loud here though - I have no idea if this actually happens.

I imagine that could happen. If they can get bigger eggs from the same size hen....

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20 hours ago, ajm200 said:

hope it isn’t happening.  I think it is awful that animals are breed for characteristics that suit humans to the detriment of the animal’s health

Even if not for that specific reason I’m afraid that is what’s happened with regards to all domestic / farmed animals 

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You might like to read Planet Chicken - written some time ago, but a very revealing book on the commercial poultry business. Nothing I didn't already know, but a few facts I wasn't aware of.

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