Styrofoam Increases Egg Production?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by figsonwheels, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. figsonwheels

    figsonwheels Out Of The Brooder

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    Some time in January, we put some foam insulation in our chicken run because it was going to be below freezing for a week. It fell to where the chickens could get it. They pecked at it for several hours before we noticed it and took it out. That day and the next, our egg production doubled.

    A few weeks ago, a piece of styrofoam roofing fell into the run and they devoured it. Again, for two days our egg production doubled.

    Today, they got into our neighbors scrap pile and destroyed an old styrofoam cooler. We doubled our eggs again today.

    I've searched the web and this forum and everyone says its an old wives tale. I'm not so sure. I don't intend to regularly feed my girls styrofoam (we try to be all natural and the chickens free range almost every day), but I think this is interesting results.
     
  2. Hooligans7

    Hooligans7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    One thing's for sure — chickens can't resist styrofoam. It's like a street drug to them, especially if it's pink or purple. I had to cover all the styrofoam insulation with paneling, but it was tough to access a certain place, so I painted it with white latex. That worked for awhile, but then one of the hooligans pecked it and struck paydirt. They ate up the whole strip, and I let them.

    Yesterday, I got 5 eggs from 5 hens, even from the hen that's been offline for more than a year. I may have to replace that styrofoam strip.
     
  3. Loriemarler

    Loriemarler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is too funny!! I will definitely keep this in mind
     
  4. Original Recipe

    Original Recipe Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 3, 2013
    I've read more than one post in the archives where people said they intentionally fed foam either for increased production or to keep the chickens from being bored. I have no idea if it is dangerous or not, but I would be concerned about potential blockages or poisoning. Safe or not, the idea of foam increasing production seemed pretty far fetched to me. However, I will say this: I have a small duck hunting boat that is made from laminated sheets of pink foam and then covered with fiberglass. A strip of fiberglass got torn off the bottom the last time I used the boat. Earlier this week while free ranging, I caught my girls pecking away at the exposed foam like crazy. They had eaten a tremendous amount before I discovered it and I'm pretty sure they had been working on it for a few days. Now here's where it gets interesting, over the next two days I got three very large double yolkers @ 3 oz. and 3 1/4 oz. I also went three days in a row @ 8/8 whereas I usually get 6/day. Coincidence? who knows, but I'm certainly not willing to risk my girls' health to find out.

    One observation I did make is I didn't notice any droppings with foam bits in them, which would mean the foam was broken down in the digestive process. If this is the case, then that would also mean that any chemicals or toxins would have been absorbed into their system. I have to wonder if any temporary increase in production is a result of leeched toxins causing a chemical imbalance in the overies, thus causing yolks to be released at a faster than normal rate. I think it would be interesting to find out if those who experienced higher production also experienced higher incidence of double yolks, smaller than normal yolks, white banded and slab sided shells.
     
  5. subhanalah

    subhanalah Overrun With Chickens

    I'm glad I came across this...One of my chick's perched on a piece of Styrofoam and pecked it and ate some. I was freaking out thinking she'd been poisoned!
    At least I know she's not going to die from just a little nibble!
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2014
  6. Hooligans7

    Hooligans7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Original Recipe, I had an opportunity to read more about styrofoam ingestion. The good news is that styrofoam can't be digested. It passes right through a chicken's digestive tract, and you wouldn't see anything in the droppings with the naked eye because its size would be further reduced in the chicken's gizzard. However, styrofoam contains styrene, which can be released during digestive transit. Styrene mimics estrogen, similar to the bisphenol-A found in many plastics, and the absorption of even small quantities of styrene will in fact stimulate the ovaries, so it's no coincidence that egg production is increased.
    That said, considering a chicken's typical lifespan and the fact that most chickens are not fed a steady diet of styrofoam, the occasional ingestion of it is not something to be overly concerned about. On the other hand, long-term daily ingestion wouldn't be a good thing.
     
  7. subhanalah

    subhanalah Overrun With Chickens

    I wonder if this is part of the reason they slush soy in chicken feeds? It is a phytoestrogen. Perhaps it also induces more laying?
     
  8. Hooligans7

    Hooligans7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I wouldn't be a bit surprised, but the effect would be minuscule. Isoflavones in soy bind to estrogen receptors and can have effects similar to estrogen, but not nearly as strong as the animal-based estrogen made by hens. And if hen estrogen is anything like human estrogen, it's more than 1000 times stronger than isoflavones.
     
  9. subhanalah

    subhanalah Overrun With Chickens

    Oops!
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014
  10. Hooligans7

    Hooligans7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I understand, and good thing you're not a chicken, pet, or other livestock animal. I meant to add that the reason soy is used so much in animal feed is because it's an inexpensive way to boost protein content. The soy isoflavone component is just a "bonus" — depending on how you look at it, of course.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014

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