How to Increase Egg Production of Backyard Chicken
Its relatively easy to make money with chickens in your own backyard. Chickens are one of the easiest farm animals to raise. They have a very small start up cost and they generate a tangible product, fresh eggs and meat, that everyone enjoys.
Keeping chickens has become a popular pastime. Increased interest in humanely-raised animal products has encouraged many people to get a chicken or two, just to make sure their eggs are laid by happy and well-treated hens. Fresh eggs from uncaged chickens are generally disease-free and better tasting, plus the birds themselves make delightful pets.
Chickens are intelligent and beneficial birds for the backyard grower, producing fertilizer and eating insect pests. If you are going to the trouble of having chickens in your backyard, you might as well maximize egg production.
Here is some important information:
Egg laying in hens is affected by numerous factors. Diet, temperature, amount of light, water intake, parasites and illness all change a hen’s laying patterns.
Creating a flock of good egg-laying chickens is simple when a person has the right information.
Cross breeding different breeds of chickens with each other typically increases egg production, egg size, quantity of eggs, chicken size, speed of growing and meat quality. If you care, it’s called “hybrid vigor.”
For example, if a white leghorn chicken rooster breeds a white leghorn chicken, the baby chick is, of course, a white leghorn. But, if a California gray rooster breeds with a white leghorn hen, the result is a sex linked chicken known as a California white chicken. The male and female sex link chickens are different colors after hatching, and the females are prolific egg layers as adults.
I did an informal survey at several local farmers’ markets and found the large majority used ‘sex-linked’ hens as egg producers. Which cross works best is a matter of discussion and debate.
For maximum egg production from your backyard flock, you should choose the same breeds of hens large commercial producers use. Often that breed is a Leghorn or Leghorn cross.
Feed your hens correctly and you are on your way to maximum egg production. Plan on feeding layers a diet of 16%-18% protein. But, for birds not in production be careful not to feed this level as it has too much calcium.
Light, in addition to clean fresh water, is critical to production. Laying hens need at least 14 hours of light to maintain good egg production. Experts suggest 16 hours of light per 24 hour period. Without artificial light (maybe on a timer), count on your hens to stop laying and go into a molt. (Chickens generally stop laying eggs before their molting begins until their new set of feathers has grown back. It happens naturally each fall.)
Maintain the hens with proper upkeep and you will be well rewarded. Chickens can be raised in a small amount of space in the backyard whether for eggs or for eating. In terms of numbers, 4-5 hens will supply 2-4 eggs daily.
Young females (pullets) start producing eggs when around 5 to 7 months of age, but expect the early eggs to be on the small side. A small flock of 6 to 8 chickens can provide a family of four with plenty of eggs and an occasional fresh chicken dinner.
Let’s assume you are starting with chicks. The critical period for chicks is from the time they hatch until about 10 weeks of age. Proper care here care will have long lasting effects on the chick’s productive life.
By the way, beside enjoying really fresh eggs, with much higher nutritional value than store bought eggs (perhaps, as old as 45 days), you can make good money from backyard chickens.
Now you know everything about egg production. Some poultry keepers opt to sell their extra eggs. I recommend you consider giving some of your extra production to area food banks.
Some entrepreneurial growers even find a market for the composted manure. If you give the environment and diet they want, you’ll be richly rewarded in eggs.
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