How to Increase Egg Production:
the best feed for laying hens
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How to Increase Egg Production in Laying Hens
Raising chickens is a fun and fulfilling passion for many people. Whether you have a few backyard chickens or a coop full of hens providing eggs for your friends and family, learning to increase egg production is a top priority for most chicken owners. You can help your chickens lay more eggs with a few easy steps.
How Often Do Chickens Lay Eggs?
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, “a pullet or young chicken begins to lay eggs around 18 to 22 weeks old… once a cycle is established, most hens will lay one egg per day. It takes 24 to 26 hours for a hen to create an egg, so it’s rare to have more than one egg per hen per day.”
Hens will lay roughly six eggs each week with fewer eggs when hens molt (replace their feathers) in the fall and through the winter.
What Factors Impact Egg Production in Hens?
Raising healthy chickens is the best way to boost egg production. From genetics to stress levels, many factors can impact laying hens’ ability to produce eggs:
- Age: Very young hens can naturally have inconsistent laying patterns up until their first year. While frequency slowly decreases as hens get older, starting at ages 2 to 3. Hens will lay until they are about 5 to 8 years old.
- Molting season: Usually in early fall, chickens put their energy into losing their old feathers and growing new feathers, rather than into egg production.
- Sunlight: Hens need at least 12 to 14 hours of light each day to consistently lay eggs.
- Nutrition: Good nutrition is essential, especially calcium.
- Overall health: Protecting your chickens from parasites and disease is crucial to keep them healthy.
- Stress levels: The presence of predators and your chickens’ overall sense of safety can greatly impact egg production.
- Breed: While most modern chicken breeds have been adapted specifically for egg laying, some breeds are more productive than others.
- Broody hens: A hen that is committed to hatching chicks will instinctively sit on eggs rather than produce more.
How to Get Your Chickens to Lay More Eggs
In ideal conditions, it takes hens about 25 hours to produce one egg. If you are new to chicken keeping, it can be astonishing how many eggs a small flock can provide; however, what do you do if your egg production starts declining? If your chickens are otherwise healthy and in their prime egg-laying years (ages six months to three years old) you can help increase egg production in a few simple steps:
Keep Your Brood Safe
Your chickens are instinctually wary of predators and other stressors as they are prey animals. Higher stress results in fewer eggs. Regularly check for access points for predators. Keeping the chicken coop around 40-90°F with soft, clean places to nest is ideal for your hens.
Keep Their Space Clean
A consistently clean coop has endless benefits. Cleaning your coop at least once week and add fresh bedding. Your chickens will be healthier, happier, and more productive layers in a clean, well-ventilated environment. A higher quality of life leads to higher egg production.
Add More Light
As daylight dwindles in the fall and winter, egg production will also naturally decrease. On average, chickens need around 14-16 hours of sunlight to lay an egg. Supplementing light by simply adding a light bulb on a 16 hour timer to your chicken house will encourage your hens to produce more eggs. Be careful when adding any source of heat or light to the coop to mitigate any to fire danger.
Choose The Right Breed
Some chicken breeds are bred for more egg production than others. There are hens that lay white eggs, brown eggs, and even colored eggs. These include the Ameraucana, Australorp, Brahma, Brakel, Rhode Island Red, and hybrids like Red Star and Black Star to name a few.
Be Vigilant Against Parasites
Keeping your coop clean will prevent many parasite problems, but you cannot guarantee these pesky trouble makers won’t find a way to your hens. Parasites like mites love poultry and can become a real problem very quickly. Avoid overcrowding the coop to help keep parasites at bay.
Feed Them a Balanced Diet
Egg production takes a lot of effort for hens. Choosing high-quality chicken feed is critical to providing your hens with the nutrition they need to stay healthy and produce eggs. Provide clean, fresh water daily year-round, and consider supplementing extra protein in the fall and winter. You can also give your chickens snacks like mealworms and vegetable food scraps in moderation.
Age Is A Factor
Take into account the age of your flock as older hens tend to lay less eggs. The peak age for egg laying is typically less than three years old. After that, egg production tends to slow down. Keeping younger hens in your coop will help ensure a high yield of eggs year-round.
Let Your Chickens Free-Range
Free-range chickens tend to have better health and less stress, leading to more eggs. If local rules limit your ability to let your chickens range free, look into chicken runs or chicken tractors. Both allow your chickens more freedom and variety while keeping them contained and safe.
Eggshells are 95% calcium and if a hen’s diet isn’t providing enough calcium she can become depleted, affecting both her health and her eqq quality and quantity. Keeping a container of crushed oyster shells accessible in your coop is considered one of the best ways to supplement your hens’ calcium levels. You can also air dry your used eggshells and crush them to feed to your hens.
Types of Feed for Laying Hens
When it comes to providing the best feed for your laying hens, your options are commercial poultry feeds and homemade feed. High-quality commercial poultry feeds come in complete and supplemental options, providing all the necessary nutrients in pre-formulated mixtures.
These feeds ensure your chickens’ nutritional needs are met and often come in pellet, crumble, and mash formulations – giving you options for what works best for your brood.
Selecting the Best Feed for Laying Hens
When selecting the best feed for your chickens, carefully read nutritional labels and ingredients. Look for lay feed options with appropriate protein content and a well-balanced amino acid profile. Consider the energy sources provided, and ensure the feed is fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. Try these Hi Protein Lay Pellets or a variety of lay feeds in crumble, mash or pellet formulas from Ace Hi and Kelley’s.
The Best Feed is Vital for Maximizing Egg Production
Prioritizing the best feed for your chickens is vital for not only egg production, but also for overall health. While kitchen scraps make for a welcomed treat, they should be offered only occasionally. If your hens eat too many treats rather than a balanced high-quality feed, they may not get all of the necessary nutrients in the right proportions. By understanding your chickens’ needs from nutrition to environment, you can provide them with the care they need to thrive. Happy, healthy hens lay the most eggs!