Social media users claim to have found a new culprit for sky-high egg prices: Chicken feed.
Photo Insert: More than 43 million of the 58 million birds slaughtered over the past year to control the bird flu virus have been egg-laying chickens
The theory gained steam on Facebook, TikTok and Twitter in recent weeks, with some users reporting that their hens stopped laying eggs and speculating that common chicken feed products were the cause, Josh Kelety reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Some went a step further to suggest that feed producers had intentionally made their products deficient to stop backyard egg production, forcing people to buy eggs at inflated prices.
“One of the largest egg producers in the country cut a deal with one of the largest feed producers in the country to change their feed formula so it no longer contains enough protein and minerals for your chickens to produce eggs,” one Facebook user wrote in a post shared more than 2,000 times.
"They are now price gouging eggs to make bank.”
But poultry experts say there’s no evidence for such claims. Here’s a closer look at the facts. CLAIM: Chicken feed companies have altered their products to stop backyard hens from laying eggs and drive up demand for commercial eggs.
THE FACTS: US egg prices in grocery stores more than doubled over the past year due to an outbreak of bird flu, combined with increasing labor and supply costs. Some backyard chicken owners may have separately found their chickens underperforming, but experts say the issues are unrelated.
While feed quality can affect hens’ egg-laying abilities, state agricultural officials told AP they have not heard of any widespread issues with feed affecting egg production, and several major feed suppliers say they haven’t changed their formulas.
Experts say there are far more mundane explanations for the poultry’s meager production. “Is there a broad conspiracy? No, there’s not a broad conspiracy,” said Todd Applegate, a professor in poultry science at the University of Georgia.
“Beyond feed, there are a lot, probably even more so, things from the management and from the bird’s environment that creates different things that would cause her to either go out of production or lower her production.”
More than 43 million of the 58 million birds slaughtered over the past year to control the bird flu virus have been egg-laying chickens, AP has reported.