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    Tips for Egg Production

    Having fresh eggs daily is one of the benefits of having a coop full of chickens that you’ve raised yourself. Here are a few tips and tricks to make sure your chickens stay healthy and productive. Productive hens start all the way back with the planning and building of your coop.



    To make sure egg layers have a "productive work environment," allow 4 square feet of floor space per adult bird, or 10 square feet if they don’t have an outside run. You’ll want to have at least one nesting box, about 2 feet off the ground, for every 3-4 birds. And provide 6-10 inches of perch space per bird. 

     

    Ideal perches have rounded edges, and are 1" diameter for small birds, 2" diameter for larger birds. Also, ventilate the coop well, preferably at the roofline to prevent draft on the roosts. 

     

    Keeping a clean coop means hens are more productive; your family is safer; and your neighbors are happier. Basic care should include cleaning bird waterers daily, and feeders at least weekly. Nests should be cleaned weekly too. And, providing fresh bedding will keep your hens healthy. Replace floor litter often, especially in areas that get wet or very soiled. If you have the room, install ample perch space away from nesting boxes. Roosting in or above nests increases the need to clean.

     

    Finally, clean and disinfect your coop and all equipment twice a year. A coop’s primary function is keeping your hens safe from predators and the elements. But, improper nutrition steals egg production as fast as problem raccoons. Make sure your laying hens have ready access to feed and water. Remember, chickens are omnivores, so in addition to a quality feed, they will happily eat raw veggies and table scraps. Not getting enough calcium in their diet can create thin shells, reduce production, increase breakage, and put a hen’s health at risk. Oyster shell or limestone are good calcium supplements to add to your feeding routine.

     

    Some other important factors that might affect your hens’ egg production include: Toxins in feed or forage. Don’t let birds pasture where pesticides or herbicides are used. Stress or decreased feed consumption from sudden temperature changes or extremes. Age. Hens naturally lose productivity, possibly as much as 15% in the second year.

     

    Molting. Chickens typically moult in late summer/early fall and will decrease production as the body replaces feathers continuing through the winter. Shorter days. Artificial light can be used to lengthen the laying season, but overuse is unhealthy for hens.If you do use artificial light on shorter day, extend the day to no more than 14 hours total.

     

    Parasites like mites and coccidia. Cleaning coops, yards regularly and providing dust baths help prevent infestations.