Have Your Chickens Stopped Laying Eggs? Social Media’s Latest Conspiracy Theory Is Wild
The egg shortage continues to wreak havoc in the grocery store. A serious epidemic of avian flu has forced many major chicken farms to kill their infected birds, resulting in a serious shortage of eggs.
And while organic eggs may be cheaper for the moment, it's still more expensive than it was. But the problem isn't just commercial chicken farms. As it turns out, people who raise chickens in their backyard are noticing their chickens aren't producing eggs right now, either.
It is raising a lot of questions on social media - so much so that even Fox News' Tucker Carlson devoted a segment to it on his show.
The chicken feed theory is spreading like wildfire on social media, but is there any truth to it?
The theory runs along these lines: The big corporations, terrified that more people will start to get their eggs at home instead of the grocery stores, have started working together to spike commercial chicken feed. The result is that chickens are no longer laying eggs.
Is that really the case? A massive corporate conspiracy like that sounds plausible on its face, but the sheer effort of cover-up required to make it a reality seems difficult to pull off without some whistleblower turning up somewhere.
What the 'cluck' is happening, then?
There are a variety of reasons hens may stop laying eggs. "Hens may lay fewer eggs due to light, stress, poor nutrition, molt or age," says Purina's website. "Some of these reasons are natural responses, while others can be fixed with simple changes and egg laying can return to normal."
But there is another reason that is certainly applicable right now - It's winter.
The Happy Chicken Coop, a website devoted to explaining issues on the home farm, explains that one of the hardest things to do is to keep your chickens laying eggs during the winter.
One of the biggest problems backyard chicken owners face during the winter months is keeping their egg supply going.
If you’ve kept chickens during the winter months before, you will know that, unfortunately, if you let nature take its course, your hens will stop laying completely during this period.
Keeping your hens lying during winter can be difficult, and you will definitely need more than just additional lighting. However, after reading the second chapter of our definitive guide, you will know exactly what it takes to keep your supply of fresh eggs during the winter months.
Some of your chickens may stop laying eggs during the winter, but many will continue to lay throughout the cold months if they have everything they need.
You may not even need to add lighting or a special feed….as long as you’re ok with a slower production rate.
Let there be light!
Scientifically, what's happening is that chickens instinctively pay attention to how much light there is during the day. During the winter, their bodies stop sending eggs from their ovaries in the winter because chicks do not survive long, cold winters.
The reason we can still get eggs during the winter is that farms are not equipped to set up lighting that tricks the chickens' brains into thinking it's not winter, so they lay year-round. But this does create physical problems for the birds - they use the winter to conserve their energy because laying eggs is a physically straining process.
Some home farmers have set-ups that allow chickens to lay year-round, but many also realize that their chickens need to rest, so they don't force production so much.
There's no conspiracy?
Unless you count biology, there doesn't seem to be any conspiracy here. It's just what chickens have always done. But fear about the egg shortage coupled with a strange phenomenon most people aren't aware of can create new fears, and they can spread like crazy online.