Health

Top causes of stress in chickens

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On average, pasture-raised chickens live for 12 years and lay more or less 325 eggs per year. Their commercially raised counterparts, on the other hand, live an average of 1.55 years and produce more or less 301 eggs every year. What causes these differences? Sadly for the cooped up birds, they suffer much more health-related stress compared to poultry that’s set to pasture.

What are the causes and effects of health-related stress in poultry?

Commercially raised chickens are exposed to all sorts of toxins. Antibiotics and growth hormones are injected into their bloodstream. Fungicides, herbicides, and pesticides get mixed into their feeds. Vapors and liquids from cleaning agents and other chemicals suffuse the air they breathe and the water they drink. All of these toxins reduce poultry health, and illnesses and ailments contribute to the birds’ stress levels.

Additionally, poultry living conditions, such as lack of exposure to natural light, close proximity with other birds, and poor ventilation also stress chickens out. Even exposure to electromagnetic frequencies negatively affect the development of chick embryos.

All in all, compounded stress results in digestion issues that make feeds cost-inefficient, diseases that drive treatment costs up, and reduces lifespans and reproductive capabilities. Conversely, stress reduction can lead to cost reductions and improved production, both of which improve your bottom line.

For this post in particular, let’s take a closer look at diet-related stressors and the ways in which we can reduce them or mitigate their effects.

Wrong fats

Chickens set to pasture generally have vitamin K-rich omega-3 fatty acids in their diet, while conventionally raised fowl usually get omega-6 fatty acids instead. When chickens don’t get enough beneficial cholesterol fats at critical moments and instead acquire the wrong kind of fats, their hormonal production is thrown out of balance.

This is especially harmful to young birds because they get their hormonal development from the fatty acids. Only a few fatty acids are capable of effectively operating endocrine adrenals and stimulating hormone production. Consuming incorrect fatty acids throws the thyroid off-kilter, stresses the adrenal glands’ hormone production substantially, and sets off a detrimental domino effect that reaches other endrocine organs and the liver.

Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is a disease caused by protozoan parasites called coccidia. Chickens get it by consuming infected feces from other animals, be they ruminants, birds flying by, or other chickens. Symptoms in poultry include lethargy, loss of appetite, diarrhea, weight loss, and cessation of egg production.

When you spot these symptoms, consult your vet to confirm the infection. Once you vet does confirm it, you must thoroughly clean your entire coop, administer treatment to your livestock, and help your chickens regain gut health by giving them Natura Betaine.

Further reading: To learn more about chicken diseases, check out the Poultry Site’s Poultry Disease Guide.

Wrong feed mixing salts

The gut of poultry runs optimally at a 1.2 resistance (pH) or lower, which is brought about by the proper ratio of salt, calcium, and other biological factors. When the gut operates properly, it digests proteins completely.

However, feed mixing salts that contain anti-caking agents and/or cyanide disrupt the gut system and cause proteins to be only partially digested. These proteins are polypeptides that induce the formation of biofilm — i.e., a slimy layer of bacteria — in the gut. This layer reduces the gut’s digestive power even more, making chickens overeat to make up for nutritional shortages they are suffering.

The bacteria in the biofilm can also create holes along the digestive tract and cause what is known as “leaky gut.” The polypeptides pass through the holes, trigger the bird’s immune system, and cause allergic reactions.

Fortunately, you can give your poultry Natura Betaine to fortify your chickens’ digestive systems as you correct their diet.

When it comes to poultry production stress, diet-related stressors may be the easiest to control. By strengthening your chickens’ guts with Natura Betaine and feeding them the right kinds of fats and salts, you optimize their nutrient absorption, which in turn makes your feeds more cost-effective. They gain sufficient mass, produce eggs optimally, and become less prone to disease, making your poultry farm more profitable in the process.