How To Encourage Egg Laying In Chickens

Happy chickens in a peaceful coop, laying many eggs in a steady pace down a rainbow-colored slide - Chickenmethod.com

If you want to encourage your chickens to lay more eggs, you must meet three essential factors or conditions. There are more than three, but the essentials are good food, fresh water, and a stress-free environment.

Chickens are sensitive creatures, and even minor disturbances in their habitat can influence their egg-laying ability. After a predator attack, for instance, productivity will drop off for at least a couple of weeks.

So, how do you create a space that makes them feel secure enough to produce eggs consistently?

Start with the basics:

  • Temperature – Hens prefer temperatures that are neither too hot nor too cold, generally between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Lighting – Supplemental lighting can also help regulate their laying cycles, especially during shorter days in winter.
  • Ventilation – Fresh air keeps the coop environment healthy, but watch out for drafts that can stress your birds.

These are the three pillars of a happy hen house. Keeping the coop at a steady 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit is a matter of good insulation and a way to cool the coop in the summer.

Fans should do the trick for cooling the coop in the heat of summer. You want the fan blowing out of the coop to keep the “wind” off your hens. Fans also help take ammonia out of the coop.

It doesn’t matter if it is styrofoam, fiberglass, hay, or vermiculite; insulation must be isolated from the chickens so they don’t peck it and eat it. Cover your insulation with paneling, plastic sheeting, or planks, but remember that the smoother it is, the easier it is to clean and sanitize.

Supplemental lighting can be put on a timer, or you can try to remember to keep a steady schedule for manual switching. Hens need 14 hours of light per day for optimal egg laying.

Cleanliness is next on the list. A clean coop is less likely to harbor diseases that can impact egg production. Ensure you regularly remove droppings and refresh bedding material to keep things sanitary.

When it comes to nesting boxes, the cozier, the better. Each box should be lined with soft material and placed in a dark, private area of the coop to make hens feel protected when they lay their eggs.

Lastly, chickens thrive on routine, so try to keep a consistent schedule for feeding, egg collection, and coop cleaning. Minimize loud noises or frequent visitors near the coop, which can unsettle the hens. Remember, a calm chicken is a productive chicken.

Coop cleaning should be done in the afternoon when the fewest chickens are in the nesting boxes. If you’re like me, you have a specific time when you gather eggs, and that is when there are no chickens in the coop. This is a perfect time to clean the coop.

Having talked about creating an inviting living space for your chickens, let’s move on to another critical aspect: nutrition. After all, a well-fed chicken is more likely to be a good layer, and that’s what I’ll cover next.

Feeding Hens for Optimal Egg Laying

Now, let’s move from the comfort of the coop to putting on the feedbag. Good nutrition keeps your hens healthy while ensuring productivity. The right diet can make all the difference when it comes to encouraging egg laying.

To start with, laying hens have specific nutritional requirements to maintain their egg production. They need a balanced mix of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Protein, in particular, is crucial because eggs are protein-rich, and hens need plenty to create them.

Calcium deserves a special mention here. It helps to make strong eggshells. A lack of calcium can lead to weak shells or even egg-laying issues, so it’s a good idea to incorporate a calcium source, like crushed oyster shells, into their diet.

Another good source of calcium for your hens comes from the crushed eggshells you get after using eggs in your kitchen. A weaker eggshell in an incubator might be helpful to a hatching chick, but a broken egg in a dark nesting box is an unwelcome surprise for the gatherer.

For their daily meals, you can choose between commercially prepared feeds and home-mixed concoctions. Commercial feeds are formulated to meet all the needs of laying hens, eliminating guesswork.

However, if you prefer a more hands-on approach, preparing a homemade mix can certainly be fulfilling as long as it’s nutritionally complete.

Don’t underestimate the importance of water. Hens need constant access to clean water to stay healthy and lay eggs effectively. Even a short time without water can disrupt the egg-laying cycle.

And for a bit of extra TLC, consider wholesome treats and supplements. Things like mealworms, seeds, and greens can both enrich their diet and provide stimulation, which in turn can promote laying.

Encouraging egg-laying in chickens is a bit like a simple jigsaw puzzle. Get the right pieces in place, such as a peaceful environment, a safe, cozy coop, and top-notch nutrition, and you’ll see some happy hens and likely a steady supply of eggs.

Dave

Chickenmethod.com

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