Commercial Egg Laying

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by wombat, Oct 13, 2009.

  1. wombat

    wombat Songster

    Jun 23, 2009
    Here's a bit on commercial egg laying rates and practices. I thought it might be of interest for comparison to backyard production levels. There have been a lot of questions of late regarding how long hens will lay, etc. There's some good info about how age and molt cycles relate to production.

    The URL:

    Edit: They based this piece on commercial Leghorns.

    The part about egg collection from that URL:

    Egg Production: As shown in Table 2 and Table 4, producers begin to photostimulate and manipulate the diet around 18 weeks of age in order to support egg production. Minor nutrients have also been manipulated such that calcium levels in the diet are approximately five to seven times greater than phosphorus levels. When a flock (group of hens) first enters egg production, the rate of egg lay will be around 10 to 20 percent. This means that 10 to 20 percent of the hens are laying eggs at 18 to 22 weeks of age. The flock quickly reaches peak egg production (90 plus percent) around 30 to 32 weeks of age. Post-peak egg production (after 30 to 32 weeks of age) continually decreases to approximately fifty percent around 60 to 70 weeks of age. At this point an economic decision must be made by the producer; fifty percent production is near the "break-even" point for egg producers (e.g., feed cost = market price of eggs). When the flock reaches 50 percent production, producers commonly decide to molt the flock in order to achieve a higher level of egg production. As a rule of thumb, it takes approximately 10 weeks from the beginning of a molting program to be back at 50 percent production following the molt. Post-molt egg production will increase such that peak egg production reaches about 80 percent. Peak production following a molt is short-lived and the flock generally returns to 50 percent production by 100 to 110 weeks of age. Many producers (one-third to one-half) will induce a second molt, this is the same process that occurred at 60 to 70 weeks of age. The second molt is commonly dictated by the current egg prices and the availability of replacement pullets. As previously stated, once flock egg production falls below fifty percent, an economic decision is made whether to molt the birds or the hens to a spent-hen processing facility. The majority of hens are between 100 and 130 weeks of age when they reach the end of their egg production cycle. The time span between 100 and 130 weeks of age can be accounted for by management decisions. Thus hens may be molted a second time and then sent to a spent hen facility (120 to 130 weeks of age) or sent directly to a spent hen facility following the first molt (100 to 110 weeks of age). After the flock vacates the layer house, the house is stripped of all organic matter and sanitized before another flock enters the house.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2009
  2. Puck-Puck

    Puck-Puck Songster

    Wow...a staggering scale of almost full automation. If only the chickens were robots too, for their sakes. Now I don't mind so much if mine aren't laying yet at 20 weeks. They get to run around, see sunrise and sunset, and eat identifiable things. They'll lay when they're ready, and if they only lay at 50%, I also break even. If not, I still have happy chickens.
  3. Kanga77510

    Kanga77510 Songster

    Oct 10, 2009
    Santa Fe, TX
    Another great reason to know where your food comes from. Does anyone know the long term effects of the manipulation on the quality of eggs?
  4. wombat

    wombat Songster

    Jun 23, 2009
    Yeah, I was rather taken aback by how commercial operations run.

    Still, I thought that this was a good "technical" article about how they are run and why, without getting into the good/bad of it.

    There's useful info about what impacts production levels, though I'm happy to be eating eggs only from my spoiled pet birds!

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