Everyone wants to get the most out of their birds and not just eggs. People want happy, healthy birds. I have listed some things you can do to keep your birds happy healthy and productive.
Genetic pattern of the breed of hen
Maximum production of top-quality eggs starts with a closely controlled breeding program emphasizing favorable genetic factors. Sex-Links are the most productive brown egg layers be cause they are a mix of two high productive breeds. If you were to breed a very low productive chicken with a high productive chicken, the next generation would not be nearly as productive as their high productive parent. But if you were to cross a high productive breed with another high productive breed the next generation would be just as productive or more productive than there parents.
Hen's age at egg-laying maturity
Although early starters lay more eggs, maturity too early results in many small eggs. These small eggs are called pullet eggs and are just as safe to eat as any other egg. The reason they are so small id because the pullet is not completely grown , as she matures and gets bigger so will her eggs.
Resistance to disease
Selective breeding is reinforced by good sanitation and vaccination. You would never want to breed an ill chicken they could pass the illnesses down to future generations and you would have a constant battle of you hands. Always breed the healthiest chickens together the more generations and that have healthy chickens the more resistance they build up to diseases.
Of primary importance both during the growing and laying periods, controlled, low-intensity light can be used to delay sexual maturity until the bird's body is big enough to produce larger eggs. Today's laying hen doesn't need to depend upon the sun to tell her when laying time has arrived. Intensity and duration of light can be adjusted to regulate production in the Fall and Winter when the days are shorter.
How much a hen eats depends upon the hen's size, the rate of egg production, temperature in the laying house and the energy level of the feed. In general, about 4 pounds of feed are required to produce a dozen eggs. A Leghorn chicken eats about 1/4 pound of feed per day. Brown-egg layers are slightly larger and require more food. Egg quality is affected by the type feed. Shell strength, for example, is determined by the presence and amounts of vitamin D, calcium and other minerals in the feed. Too little vitamin A can result in blood spots. Yolk color is influenced by pigments in the feed. Maximum egg size requires an adequate amount of protein and essential fatty acids.
Quality of feed
Since more is known about the nutritional requirements of the chicken than of any other domestic animal, it is not surprising that rations are scientifically balanced to assure layer health along with optimum quality eggs at least cost.
Laying houses maintained between 57 and 79°F. (14 and 26°C.) are desirable.
A relative humidity between 40 and 60% is best.
Molting, or loss of feathers, is a natural occurrence common to all birds regardless of species. As the hen ages, egg quality declines and, at about 18 to 20 months of age, molting occurs and egg production ceases. After a rest period of 4 to 8 weeks, the birds start producing again.
Housing is a very important part in egg production. If your hens are comfortable and not stressed they will lay better. If you free range all day, they are likely going to lay in tall grass and you will be losing those eggs. You can still free range just later in the day after most have laid.
Gathering eggs several times a day is important especially if you have hen that tend to go broody. The more eggs that are in the nesting boxes and the longer they stay in there the more a hen may want to sit on them. Gathering eggs several times a day also helps keep eggs clean, if there are several eggs in one nest box they could get broken and soil the other eggs.
Chicken behaviors is also and other important role in eggs production. As mentioned above some hens love being broody, a broody hen is when a hen sits on eggs for several weeks trying to hatch them. Even if they are fake eggs she will sit on them, some even sit on nothing. But they will eventually stop sitting either when chicks hatch or they just give up on the fake eggs. There are also ways to break a broody that include isolation in a wire cage for several day or ice packs under her in the nest. Another chicken behavior that will put a dent in the eggs you are able to gather is egg eating. Egg Eating is a very bad behavior that is hard sometimes impossible to break. Sometimes eggs get broken accidentally and the chicken will eat it, that does not make them an egg eater, but if they break the eggs purposely and eat them they are egg eaters. One more behavior that can affect production is hens guarding the nesting boxes, some hens might guard a nest and chase other hens off and make those hen lay else where and if you free range that will most likely lay in tall grass or somewhere hidden.
Thanks for reading Happy, Healthy, Productive Farming!