The South African Poultry association guidelines state that a commercial farmer needs to ensure that each hen should be able to produce more than 280 eggs in one production cycle. Note that hens generally reach the end of their production cycle at 100-130 weeks. Here are some tips for ensuring that you get your hens to lay more eggs.
- Some breeds of chicken lay more eggs than others, so you might want to start by getting the right breed in the first place. Leg horn hens for example, are known to lay about 300 eggs a year which is equivalent to an egg almost every day. A study conducted by researchers at the Tshwane University of technology and published in 2010 found that the White Leghorn had better egg production potential than four chicken breeds indigenous to South Africa.
- It is important to maintain a cap on the mean age of the hens in your brood. This is because hen production starts to decline when a hen is aging. Even good layers will maintain a strong production level for 50-60 weeks. Later on they go through what is referred to as a molt – a rest from laying eggs. Hens that are aging molt more regularly and lay fewer eggs. One of the ways to optimize egg production therefore, is to ensure that the mean age of your brood is at optimum.
- Make sure the hens are getting a balanced diet. A poor diet means fewer eggs. A good diet means a healthy hen and therefore more eggs for the farmer. For one, the diet has to include salt. If there is no salt in the diet, hens engage in a lot of pecking which results in lower egg production. Too much salt on the other hand can be toxic. Moderation is the word. Their diet should include a lot of calcium and phosphorous which are important in egg production. Just avoid dolomitic limestone because it contains a lot of magnesium, which competes with calcium for absorption. It is therefore poorly absorbed. The diet of the hens should include vitamin D because vitamin D is important for absorption of calcium. Proteins and fats should also be ingredients. The importance of water as part of a bird’s diet should never be overlooked. They need enough clean water on a daily basis.
- Egg production is influenced also by the length of the day. Ensure that the hens are exposed to light at all times or at least for 14 hours a day and this will result in better egg production. Lack of exposure to light will affect egg production capabilities of hens.
- Farmers are advised to control parasites like mites, fleas and lice to make sure that they do not affect egg production. These parasites can make hens anemic, irritate birds and eventually reduce egg production by even 10%. These parasites can be controlled by avoiding overcrowding and also by fumigating the chicken coops after every production cycle. After fumigation, the chicken coop should be left for some time before hens are brought in to occupy it, as some may be irritated by the chemicals.
Other Africa Poultry Information
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- Build an Affordable Long Lasting Chicken Coop
- Successful Egg Hatching for Baby Chicks
- Successful Chicken Egg Laying Strategies
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- How to Raise Chickens Stress Free
- Raising Chickens for Meat
- Successful Chicken Disease Management
- Chicken Resources