Acute depigmentation of fertile brown eggs in a commercial layer operation

Bruce R. Charlton, Asheesh K. Tiwary, Arthur A. Bickford, Mike Filigenzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Rapid depigmentation of brown eggs is an infrequent but startling event in the commercial egg industry that can result in significant economic losses. Loss of shell pigment in brown-shelled eggs is caused by various factors. In many cases, the exact cause of flock-wide pigment loss remains undetermined. A rapid decline in shell pigmentation was observed in 2 flocks of Hyline brown layers. The lack of evidence of an infectious disease process suggested a feed or management problem. On the basis of a small-scale, "in-house" feeding trial, the feed was identified as the cause of depigmentation. Feed analysis by liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry confirmed the presence of 4,4′-dinitrocarbanilide, a major component of nicarbazin (NCZ). There was no evidence of increased mortality, and only a slight but transient drop in the egg production was observed. Depigmentation effects were rapidly reversed after replacing the feed with NCZ-free feed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-288
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Egg depigmentation
  • Nicarbazin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • veterinary(all)


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