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How to increase chicken egg production

A common concern for many chicken owners is why aren’t their hens laying as many eggs as they would have hoped. The simple answer to this question is that it’s usually down to a few different factors, these are; the hen’s age, the quality of the feed, the breed, and the time of year. If you want the most out of your hens in terms of egg production then this is the article for you. We will be going through tips and tricks we found to work with our hens in order to get the most out of them. It’s important to understand before purchasing your hens its a good idea to do some research and clarify the primary reasons as to why your getting hens, this is because different breeds are better and worse at some things. We’ve made an article explaining just this so feel free to check it out. Best chickens for egg production. In that article, we’ll go through the advantages and disadvantages of different breeds as well as revealing the best hens for egg production.

But enough of that you’re here to find out what you can to increase your chicken’s egg production so let’s get into it. In this article we will be going through why your chickens aren’t laying as many as they should be, how to fix this problem, and how to maximise the egg production.

Why aren’t they laying how they should be?

If your birds have decreased their egg production then it’s important to understand why, this will allow you to tackle the problem head on and hopefully fix the issue as soon as possible. Here are the most common reasons why you hens may not be laying.

Age

The age of your hens will have a significant impact on the number of eggs they produce, the general thing to remember is that chickens only maintain their maximum laying capacity for a couple of years. When a hen gets past the age of three years old you will notice a gradual decline in the number of eggs they produce until they stop altogether. Its personal preference to what you do with your hens at this stage, however, we like to replace our flock every 3-4 years, this ensures we get the most of our hens in terms of egg production. This may differ if you’re keeping your hens more so as pets however it’s perfectly normal that your hens laying productions will drop after the 3-year mark so don’t be alarmed.

Likewise, it’s also possible that your hens are too young to produce eggs on a daily, this is also perfectly normal and as time goes on they will improve. We noticed that every time we get a new flock the young hens sometimes lay small eggs almost half the size of your average. If you experience this within your flock then it’s a good indication that your hen’s will start laying very soon. 

Nutrition

Another reason your hens may not be laying how they should is because of a lack of proper nutrition, in order to provide eggs hen’s need a serious amount of protein and calcium. The approximate amount needed in order to produce one egg is 20 grams of protein, in addition to this they need fats, vitamins and minerals for general all round good health, this is crucial if you want them to lay a high volume of good quality eggs. Hens will also need lots of water so making sure that you provide all these things is crucial if you want good egg production. 

It’s usually very common in a big flock such as ours that particular hens sometimes have less access to food and water due to the dominance of birds within the flock. We found that this sometimes leads to certain birds losing weight and not having enough nutrients to churn out eggs on a daily basis. To learn more about nutrition and what exactly should you feed your hens you want to check out our article on what should I feed my chickens. There we go into more detail on what feed and snacks are best for your birds.

Molting

Molting is a natural process in which hens loose their current feathers and replace them with new ones, if you notice your hens have had a sudden loss of feathers then it may be due to molting. However, it’s also possible that a hen is being picked on by the other hens which can be another cause of feather loss. Molting usually takes place when the days start to shorten, it’s linked to the amount of daylight you hens receive. The process can take anywhere from 6-12 weeks depending on the age of your hens, Throughout this process, your hens won’t be laying as they need all the protein they can get in order to replace their old feathers, after this process has run its course then expect your hens to start laying again soon. 

During the molting stage, it’s crucial to make sure your hens are getting enough protein so they can be done with this stage as quickly as possible and get back to laying, we recommend making sure all of your hens are getting sufficient nutrients and ensuring they have a quality high protein feed to keep them going.

Stress

Stress within the flock can be another variable that has impacted your hens laying cycle. This usually happens when vermin such as rats are present in the coop, they cause the hens to be on edge which has a direct impact on their egg laying, not to mention rats bring a whole other arsenal of problems when they turn up so its best to make sure that doesn’t happen. If you want more information on this subject then feel free to check out our article on how to keep a coop rat free.

However rats aren’t the only stress causer when other predators are close by it can also stress out your hens, it’s pretty understandable, they don’t want to be eaten. Taking reasonable precautions to ensure these predictors can not enter the coop especially at night is key if you want your hens to continue laying effectively. If you notice a sudden decrease in your hen’s egg production and have checked for all the obvious signs then it may be a predator is stressing them out. If this does happen then blocking their entrance to the coop/run is mandatory.

Another factor which can stress your hens is out is new members being added to the flock, you may remember when your hen first arrived how they were slightly hesitant of each other, this process can be stressful especially if multiple new birds are added to the flock, we always say instead of putting your hens through this, replace your flock in one go after the 3-4 year period where the hens just aren’t laying as much. This will ensure you get the most out of your current flock. 

Environment

Your hen’s environment has a huge impact on their egg production, if the coop/run is too small for the number of hens you have then it can lead to an increase in bullying within the flock, when this occurs hens are usually less stable resulting in a reduced number of eggs produced. Another factor in their environment that can have an impact on their laying are nesting/laying boxes. If these boxes are not sufficient in size then it usually puts the hens off, instead, resulting in eggs being laid in places where there’s a higher risk of them being damaged.

Laying boxes don’t need to be anything special however do need to be large enough for a hen to fit in comfortably and not directly next to another laying box. It’s best to do this to avoid any squabbling within the flock. Your hens also will need a nice amount of protection in their laying boxes, this won’t necessarily increase their laying however it will prevent the unnecessary damage being done to the eggs. 

A common issue surrounding this is the hen’s eating their own eggs, this usually happens if they are layed on a hard surface and become cracked. The hens will usually peck at the egg out of curiosity or if they feel the need for extra protein and calcium, if this does happen in your coop don’t be alarmed there are plenty of ways to solve the issue.

Daylight hours also has a direct impact on the number of eggs your hens will lay, this is why battery hens are often exposed to light 16 hours of light a day, 24/7. Now adding extra light to the coop to mimic this effect isn’t really worth it if your keeping hens in your back garden. The general thing to remember is that if egg production dips slightly in the winter you’ll know why.

How to get the most eggs out of your hen

To get the most out of your hens, the basics are what you should at first try and complete, this means providing them with the correct amounts of food and water, enough space to thrive, protection from predators, enough exposure to the light and good laying boxes. In this section of the article, we will be explaining how we attack these different aspects as well as sharing with you what we found to work best.

The proper feed

Giving your hens the right feed will have a direct impact on their egg production, some feeds are better and worse than others. We understand it can be a daunting task to ensure your feed has the proper nutrition your hens need, for that reason for wrote a whole other article just explaining what to feed your chickens. If you want more information on that then feel free to check it out; what should I feed my chickens. However, here’s a quick insight into what we find works best for our hens and keeps the laying consistently.

Allen & Page Complete Poultry Feed Layer Pellets (Check current price on Amazon)

We’ve been using this feed for five years or so and it’s always delivered on quality. The hens love it, its packed with nutrients and its suitable for the hens all year round which is why it’s a staple in our chicken coop.

Allen & Page’s layer pellets also contain Omega 3 oils which increase the quality of the eggs that the hens lay and it is also healthy for them.

When using this feed, we noticed a substantial increase in the quality of our eggs, the shells were slightly thicker and the eggs were richer and we haven’t used another feed since.

Like any feed, we recommend buying it in bulk as it saves you quite a bit of money and we also recommend buying it online. These bags are heavy and a real handful to transport, which is why its easier to get it delivered to your doorstep!

It’s all good and well giving your chickens the right feed but knowing how and when to give it them also has a big impact on the number of eggs you will get. We find that giving our hens one feed in the morning is enough to keep eggs constantly coming in, however, we also advise you to remove the feeders and drinkers at night as chicken feed left in the run will often attract rats. Having dealt with this problem personally we can assure you it’s not pleasant. The rats contaminate the feed possibly resulting in your hens getting sick or a significant decrease in eggs, not to mention the rats pose a threat to the birds further stressing them out.

We can assure you following these basic guidelines will ensure your hens lay consistently.

We’d also recommend you give your hens a boost feed, these have lots of natural goodness designed to keep your flock healthy, the high levels of protein are great for helping your hens produce as many eggs as possible. Here is the one we give to our girls:

5kg Poultry”Hi-Energy” Boost Mix – Condition Feed (check current price on Amazon)

This boost mix has served our hens great, they seem to churn out eggs 5-6 times a week which if your an egg lover like us this will be perfect for you. The mix is full of natural ingredients such as maize, wheat, black sunflower seeds, and oyster shell, all these ingredients are perfect for marinating good health within the flock as well as delicious, continues egg supply. If you’ve got everything else to spot on then we’d highly recommend incorporating this mix into your hen’s diet. Note this mix is defiantly not a feed replacement and should be given as more of a treat.

Water

You may be aware that hens drink almost three times as much water as feed, this is why making sure that their drinkers are always topped up with clean water is a good way to minimize the risk of your hens decreasing egg production. We advise applying a similar principle to their water source as you would to the feed, rats can also contaminate water, possibly resulting in your hens injecting parasites which are defiantly not what you want when trying to increase egg production.

Solving the issue can be as simple as replacing their water every other day and bringing it in for the night, this way there’s no chance of contamination.

Enough space to thrive

Providing your hens with enough space has a direct correlation with the number of eggs they will lay, when a coop/run is cramp there’s often more pecking and squabbling which inevitably results in decreased egg production. Here’s a table showing you how much space you should be giving per hen(minimum):

2 chickens =8 square feet of space (minimum)
3 chickens =12 square feet of space (minimum)
4 chickens =16 square feet of space (minimum)
5 chickens =20 square feet of space (minimum)
6 chickens =24 square feet of space (minimum)
7 chickens =28 square feet of space (minimum)
8 chickens =32 square feet of space (minimum)
9 chickens =36 square feet of space (minimum)
10 chickens =40 square feet of space (minimum)

When hens have free space it often results in them being more comfortable, this means they’re more likely to lay a higher number of eggs. Space is sometimes overlooked when it comes to hens, just because battery hens lay constantly that doesn’t mean your hens will. Hens you’ve raised in your garden are like pets, whereas battery hens are more like machines, a reason we and our whole family have stayed away from battery eggs is purely due to the quality of life those birds have, however there’s nothing wrong with your consuming them, it’s just the same techniques used on those birds won’t work on your back garden flock.

Having good laying boxes

Your hens need to feel comfortable while laying, this is where a laying box comes in. It should provide your hen with a small enclosed space they feel is the ideal area for an egg, the box should also be covered with some sort of protection, wood clippings, and hay are two perfect examples. We found they minimize the number of broken eggs.

However a laying box does not need to be anything complicated, although they come with many coops, it may suit you to make your own. A nesting box can be as simple or complicated as you want, just remember it needs to fit and chicken comfortably and ensure there’s plenty of room for protection such as hay to be added.

Protection from predators

It’s surprising how keeping your hen’s stress free can actually have an impact on the hen’s egg production. Making sure your coop is secure will maintain a stress free environment. This can be done by using strong materials to build your coop or by purchasing a well built one. If you want some more information on what coop to buy then check out some of our reviews; chicken coops

When your hens aren’t worried about unexpected visitors they can focus more on laying eggs, which will maintain high egg production. However, if you’ve taken the reasonable steps however still have rodents appearing now and then check out our article on how to keep a coop rat free.

Lock your hens into the coop at night this way they know they’re safe and continue being productive. 

Enough exposure to the light

This can be harder in winter which is why you may notice a slight drop in egg production however, making sure your run gives the hen lots of direct sunlight is a great way to boost egg production. Hens will usually lay more in the summer and spring as its the time they’d naturally have chicks. 

Adding additional light sources to the coop to try and maximize egg production, in theory, may work however, we believe it to be unnatural so wouldn’t recommend you do it. 

Conclusion

When trying to boost egg production, the most important thing to remember keep it basic. If your giving your hens everything they need the eggs will start rolling in, it’s just a matter of time. The techniques we’ve mentioned in this article have worked for our hens however adapting them for your situation could work just as well. 

So there you have it a quick insight into how to get your hens to lay more, if you found this article useful then feel free to check out some of our others @easyhens.com

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