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How can I help my hens keep laying?

Discussion in 'Nutrition - Sponsored by Purina Poultry' started by Monica S, Sep 8, 2015.

  1. Monica S

    Monica S BYC Content and Advertising Specialist

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    Answer:

    There are three primary components of a successful laying season: nutrition, egg collection and light.

    1. Nutrition: The number one tool we can give hens is a complete and balanced diet when they begin to lay eggs around 18 weeks of age. Complete layer feeds, like Purina® Layena® Premium Poultry Feed, are formulated to include all of the nutrients hens require while laying eggs. The diet should include: calcium for strong shells; amino acids, vitamins and minerals for enhanced egg quality and hen health; and probiotics and prebiotics to promote the hen’s digestive function.

    The complete layer feed should comprise at least 90 percent of the hen’s diet. The remaining 10 percent can come from supplemental feeds, such as scratch grains, good quality table scraps and oyster shells. We don’t want to feed too much ‘extra’ feed, like scratch grains or table scraps, because it can dilute and unbalance the complete nutrition in the hen‘s pellets or crumbles, affecting her production and health.

    2. Egg collection: Once hens begin laying eggs, be sure to gather eggs at least in the morning and in the evening. This helps to keep the eggs cleaner and reduces chances for eggs to get cracked by hen traffic in the nests.

    Egg cracks can allow bacteria access to the interior of the egg. Microscopic cracks and large cracks can be a result of an inadequate diet and infrequent egg gathering. We’ve found that feeding a complete layer feed can improve shell strength, helping to address microscopic shell cracks and keeping bacteria from entering the egg.

    Gather eggs 2-3 times per day. This helps prevent eggs from getting stepped on and thereby cracked or broken, which can lead to egg eating. Egg eating generally occurs when a hen finds a broken egg, tastes it, likes it and begins searching for other broken eggs, then learns to break them herself. Address egg eating by feeding our hens for strong shells and gathering eggs frequently.

    3. Light: Light is a critical component in egg laying. As days get shorter, egg production may drop because hens need a minimum of 17 hours of daylight to sustain strong production. Without supplemental light, hens will naturally stop laying eggs when daylight drops below 12 hours per day due to a hormonal response in the hen that is triggered by light.

    To address this problematic hormonal response and promote long-term egg production, provide one incandescent 40-watt or LED 9 to 13-watt bulb (brighter light is neither necessary nor advantageous) per 100 square feet of coop space. Use an automatic timer to keep light and dark hours consistent so hens stay on a laying and sleeping schedule.
     
  2. eaglegreen

    eaglegreen Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 5, 2014
    Hi: I need some help.
    My 2 yr old hens were laying fine till it got hot. They had plenty of shade, fresh water, laying mash available at all times, ability to roam free range, or, if staying in their quite spacious pen had scratch. When it got hot, they quit laying. It still gets hot in the daytime, but cools off at night, so mornings are cool. (Never gets above 100--now, nor earlier in the summer.) Now, it appears they are in the process of molting, so I guess that means another month to wait for eggs!
    My ducks quit laying, too. Same time. They get the same laying mash. The love snails and get them whenever available!, but they're not much into any other kind of "treats". They have plenty of room to roam, a 50--gal. swimming pool, and fresh water twice a day.
    Once in awhile I find a very soft shelled broken egg in their pen. They too appear to be losing quite a few small feathers.
    It has seemed like a very long time since I've had eggs from either-- over 2 months. Am I doing something wrong? Is all of this typical?
    Oh, also, both get 1 T. per gal. of their drinking water.
    One other question. Anything I can put in their black Rubbermaid swimming pool to cut down on the green algae?
    Thank you so much, to anyone who can help me.
    Gale Green
     
  3. Lucy Lou

    Lucy Lou Out Of The Brooder

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    Gale, when the moulting begins they also begin growing new feathers. The protein output is so great that if you still want eggs you must feed them protein, as they cannot produce eggs and feathers at the same time. We fed our hens canned cat food and that solved the problem
     
  4. eaglegreen

    eaglegreen Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 5, 2014
    Thank you, Lucy Lou, I'll try it. And, I'm going to get their supplemental light source going as our days are beginning to shorten. . .. Here's hoping!!
     
  5. Lucy Lou

    Lucy Lou Out Of The Brooder

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    Oh Gale I forgot to mention we put Apple cider vinegar in the drinking water to reduce the alge and also it deters parasites from getting on the hens. You must be in the Northern hemisphere as we are just coming into Spring now
     
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I wouldn't bother with adding light till after they finish growing a new winter coat.
    I would not continue feeding layer feed if you're not getting any eggs. Too much calcium for a bird not building shells.
    Switching to a higher protein grower feed will help feather replacement. Feathers are 93% protein.
     
  7. eaglegreen

    eaglegreen Out Of The Brooder

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    I think you might have missed it, but in my post I said I put ACV in their drinking water. I tried putting a couple of cups in their pond but it didn't seem to make much difference in the algae. Maybe I didn't put enough, but, with changing it out twice a week (on av.) it gets a bit expensive. . . .
     
  8. eaglegreen

    eaglegreen Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 5, 2014
    Ah!! Good point. I'll do that--and thanks for the tip! g.
     
  9. eaglegreen

    eaglegreen Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 5, 2014
    Thanks for the tip about upping the protein and cutting the egg layer, I mean! g.
     
  10. Lucy Lou

    Lucy Lou Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 8, 2015
    Can anyone help with this please. I have a 3 year old hen who did not lay for 4 weeks, then laid an egg with nothing inside. Also her cone isn't standing up.
     

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