Are you having difficulty with your hens laying eggs? Are they not producing to their standard? You may want to check on some of these factors that may be the cause of this.
Is there enough lighting? Your hens will need at least 15 hours of daylight. This is easier to do when there is more natural light during the late spring to early fall. However, if you would like to keep your production of eggs going, provide some additional lighting. To try and give them as much light as possible it’s recommended to use no less than a 75 watt light bulb.
What are you feeding them? It is recommended to have a quality layer feed which will have the right portions of everything they need to produce eggs. Some table scraps are ok for your birds, but should be given to them in moderation so it does not upset the balance of the feed.
Are your hens stressed out? Are there predators? This is caused by different things. One would be to make sure they are not being frightened. This could be from predators trying to get in the pen with them, or a snake that made its way into the pen. Other reasons for stressed out chickens would be handling them too much, moving them to a different pen, letting them run out of food or water, or even disrupting the pecking order by bringing in new birds.
Do they have enough water? They should always have plenty of clean water to drink, and during the winter months it is important to not let their water freeze.
What is the temperature like? Hens usually lay best when it is not too hot or too cold. During the summer it is necessary to provide cool water, and shade. During the winter it is recommended to try and keep their pen at above 55-60 degrees.
Are they molting? The molting process happens about once a year. This usually causes a production decrease or a halt to the eggs. Molting can last anywhere from 4 – 16 weeks. Chickens will lose feathers in a sequence starting with the head and neck and then down the back, across the breast and thighs and finally their tail feathers. The new feathers that emerge are called pinfeathers and will grow in following the same sequence they were lost.
How old are your hens? It is typical for your hens to have their best production in the first and second year after they hatch. After three years old their production will start slowly decreasing. It is estimated that at about five years of age they will only be producing half as frequently as they did the first two years.
Contributed by Cory Johnson