8 Ways to Make Your Chickens Lay More Eggs
As the days get shorter, you might find that your chickens are not laying as much as they normally do. Egg production is partly regulated by daylight hours, and the more light the chickens see, the more eggs they will lay. Other factors that can affect the production are moulting, broodiness and your hens getting older.
But if you find that you’re collecting significantly less eggs than you did six months or a year ago, there might be some things you can do to encourage your hens to start laying again and get the most eggs possible from your flock. Have a look at our tips below!
1. Choose the right breeds
If eggs are the number one reason you keep chickens, you should make sure you pick hens for your flock that through generations have been bred to lay. Bantams or more decorative breeds like Polish and Silkies generally lay relatively few eggs, as do the larger breeds that were developed for meat.
The ideal egg layer is also hesitant to sit on her eggs, and rarely go broody. Some examples of breeds that lay many eggs are Australorp, Sussex, Rhode Island Red and Leghorns.
2. Give your hens a good quality feed
It’s always important to give your chickens the best possible quality feed you can, but extra important if you want them to produce eggs. A good feed should have a good amount of protein (16-20% depending on the age of your chickens) as well as important vitamins and minerals.
If you feed your chickens treats, they should be kept to a minimum, and be low in fat. Fat or obese chickens will not lay, so make sure they fill up on good feed, a handful of corn, and maybe some delicious worms from the garden. That should keep your hens happy and healthy, and hopefully laying regularly.
3. Minimise stress
Chickens that experience stress on a daily basis will put all their energy into being constantly on their toes, and will produce no or very few eggs.
Make sure your birds feel safe in their chicken coop and where they are free ranging. A predator resistant coop and run, like the Eglus, will allow your chickens to roost away from any danger. Try to keep cats and dogs away from the area where your chickens are roaming, and let the hens come to you rather than chasing them around the garden.
Generally, hens will also feel most comfortable when you have a clear routine. Let them out of the coop around the same time every day (made super easy with an automatic chicken coop door), feed them the same feed at the same place, and put them to bed when they’ve all returned to the coop.
Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid a certain amount of stress, for example if you’re moving the hens to a new place or are introducing new chickens to your flock. The chickens should return to their normal laying pattern once things have calmed down, but you could experience a few weeks of disturbed laying.
4. Give them plenty of calcium
Chickens need calcium to create strong egg shells. A good feed will contain a fair amount, but you should also provide your laying hens with an additional source, most commonly oyster shell or crushed, baked egg shells.
5. Provide fresh water
A chicken can drink up to a pint of water a day (!), so it’s important to give your flock plenty of fresh, clean water. Chickens will happily drink from muddy puddles and other water sources, but as standing water can contain bacteria and parasites it’s always best to make sure they have plenty of clean water to drink from their drinker.
This is especially important in the warmer months, as a dehydrated chicken will not lay, but also make sure the water doesn’t freeze in winter.
6. Keep parasites at bay
Mites are the number one culprit when it comes to a decreased egg production. They suck blood from the chickens’ legs at night, resulting in the hens being anemic and too tired to lay. Fleas and lice can really annoy chickens and make them stressed, and internal parasites like worms will lower your hens’ immune system and possibly make them very ill.
Get into the habit of checking your chickens over every, or every other, week by picking them up and going through their face, feet and feathers. That way you will be able to spot a potential problem early, and hopefully treat it before it affects your pets and their egg production. You can read more about giving your chickens a health check here.
7. Keep the chicken coop clean
Just like you and I, chickens don’t like sleeping, eating and socialising in mess and dirt. Their idea of cleanliness might look slightly different from ours, but if you want your chickens to be happy and healthy and lay plenty of eggs, you must make sure the coop and the run are tidy and free from poo and dirt.
With a chicken coop like the Eglu Cube, making sure the hens’ home is clean is super easy. Thanks to the wipe down surfaces and the handy pull out dropping tray, it will only take minutes to clean the coop.
Fill the nest boxes with plenty of soft bedding so your hens have somewhere comfortable to lay.
8. Provide more space
Lack of space can lead to a lot of stress for chickens. While roosting they prefer sitting close together in the coop, but during the day it’s important that they have a good amount of space to move around on.
If you chickens aren’t laying, maybe consider giving them a slightly larger run or area to free range on. Or if you have introduced new hens to your flock, it might be time to buy a second coop to house one half of the group.
Chickens, like most animals, have a defined number of eggs in their bodies, and once they have used up their reserves, nothing you do will make them produce more delicious eggs. If you have rescued ex battery hens for example, the rate of egg laying might slow down quite quickly, despite the hens still being young, as they have lived in an environment where they were manipulated to lay as much as possible, as quickly as possible.
It’s also good to remember that chickens are not machines, and their bodies will sometimes just need a rest. This doesn’t mean they will never lay again, so don’t give up on them! After all, as well as eggs, our chickens provide us with plenty of entertainment and companionship, and they deserve to be properly cared for however many eggs they produce.
This entry was posted in Chickens