Using feed additives to combat dirty eggs

The problem of dirty eggs is multifaceted, but it can be addressed with a combination of measures.

Bjarte Kvinge Tvedt |

Anything that can reduce the number of dirty eggs improves profitability.

Dirty eggs remain a perennial problem of the poultry industry. Layers and breeders are affected by it. Dirty eggs have difficulty entering the human food chain, whereas dirty eggs from breeders are not welcome at hatcheries. The contamination risk is too high for either use.

Cereals rich in non-starch polysaccharides (NSP), such as wheat, barley, and rye, are used in many regions of the world as the staple cereal for poultry diets. It is well known that feeding NSP to poultry increases gut viscosity. Apart from reducing nutrient digestibility, increased gut viscosity is also known to increase the incidence of dirty eggs. Feeding exogenous enzymes is expected to break down major NSP compounds in cereals, but the problem of dirty eggs does not diminish by this action alone. After all, cereals contain many different types of NSP.

Today, the role of overall gut health is becoming increasingly important even for layers and breeders – a class of poultry not usually associated with feed-grade antibiotics. Thus, the question becomes, β€œWhat is the effect of increased gut health on the incidence of dirty eggs?”

For example, based on inductive reasoning, one is expected to anticipate reduced gut viscosity as the fiber-degrading bacterial population in the gut is enhanced and thrives. For example, such could be the effect by feeding fermentable fibers (prebiotics) and/or certain direct-fed microbials (probiotics). However, not all such products are created equal. Thus, it is important for additive suppliers to investigate this aspect of their products.

The problem of dirty eggs is multifaceted, but it can be addressed by careful selection of cereals in the diet, the correct electrolyte balance, and an array of additives that will enhance gut health toward this goal.

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