Historical Honey Bee Articles - Beekeeping History By Eunice Kilonzo November 18, 2015
Scientists in Nigeria have shown that honey diluted in water improves egg quality and increases survival rates of layers.
The scholars from the department of animal physiology, Federal University of Agriculture in Nigeria, noted that the use of honey "can improve egg production in the layers mainly during the hot season".
The hybrid layers, according to Dr Monsuru Oladimeji Abioja, are sensitive to high temperature during the hot season and, thus, a flock can suffer from heat stress, which is known to produce toxin in the bodies of the chicken, reducing egg quality and survival rates.
Indigenous birds, however, have high thermal resistance but their production is lower compared to layers.
He said: "In 16 weeks during the hot-dry season, research among 120 laying chickens, which were about 28 weeks old, showed that if just 10ml of honey is added in about a litre of drinking water, the egg quality and survival rate improve."
Honey works as an antioxidant by removing the toxins accumulated in the chicken body due to heat stress. The optimum temperature should be 18 to 21°C beyond which the growth and welfare of the birds is compromised and survival rate lowered because of their responses to the stressor.
However, Dr Abioja cautions that the honey supplements should not be offered to the birds for more than four weeks consistently.
"This will be detrimental to the egg production. The best way would be to give it to the chicken for four weeks and thereafter take a break of two weeks and then continue if need be," said the lecturer.
Dr Abioja spoke to Seeds of Gold in Zimbabwe last week during the fifth climate change and development in Africa forum hosted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
He further said while more analysis on the research is ongoing, the quality of the honey used can have an impact on the chicken, thus, he recommended the use of a single supply of pure honey.
A similar study on broiler chicken was conducted by Dr Abioja in 2012. It showed the addition of honey to drinking water of broiler chickens neither affected their growth nor reduced the body temperature.
However, at a dosage of 20ml honey per litre of water, the panting and heart rates were reduced in birds during hot spell. Adding, "Honey may improve bone strength and immunity."
Other methods of handling heat stress in poultry include using guava and coconut juice as well as addition of Vitamin C in the drinking water, according to the researchers. One can also control temperature in the rooms.