Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Truth About Red Pepper Flakes

"Adding red pepper flakes to your chickens’ feed will increase egg production."  - Statement found on popular Facebook chicken forum on April 21, 2016.

Unfortunately, the statement that "red pepper flakes will increase your hens egg production" is largely urban legend.  Scientifically, I am unable to see what nutritional and physiological mechanism would be used to rationalize that hypothesis. 

Interestingly, I found a peer reviewed paper written in 2012 titled   "Effect of Red Pepper (Capsicum frutescens) Powder or Red Pepper Pigment on the Performance and Egg Yolk Color of Laying Hens" by Huaqiaqng Li et al.

The results showed no difference in egg laying performance, feed consumption or feed conversion ratio due to the inclusion of red pepper flakes in the diet versus a control group.  This result was similar to other previous studies by Gurbuz et. al (2003) and Samli et al (2005). 

Interestingly, in this experiment red pepper powder did have a significant effect on egg weight compared to a control group. The authors did not hypothesize on why this is so.  Until repeated in other experiments this result while interesting is far from fact.  

While red pepper flakes do not change the performance they can affect the color of the yolk because of the cartenoids (i.e. pigments) in the flakes. Specifically, feeding red pepper flakes to your hens at a concentration between 0.5 - 2% will produce a red-orange colored yolk (Note: birds do not sense “hot” or “spicy.”  This is why you can add cayenne pepper to your bird seed to discourage squirrels etc. from eating the bird seeds). 

Answer provided by Maurice Pitesky DVM, MPVM, DACVPM
Veterinarian/Assistant Specialist in Cooperative Extension
Poultry Health and Food Safety Epidemiology
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California

Once again, our team of experts have deemed there is no scientific proof or research that proves adding red pepper flakes to chickens’ feed increases egg production. ~ Andy Schneider (The Chicken Whisperer)