First you need chickens to have eggs (obviously), but to start getting eggs, you also needed your pullets to reach about 24 weeks of age. To get an ongoing supply of good eggs, your chickens needed the right food, clean nest boxes, sufficient daylight and more. In other words, because an egg’s quality reflects the care and management the hen receives, getting good eggs takes some work—and not just on the chicken’s part. Take it from anyone who has ever kept a layer flock, the delicious results are well worth the effort. Eggs are miraculous objects – they can either be a nutritious meal or under the right conditions a new life.
To Achieve Maximum Laying:
- Feed your hen a diet of good poultry pellet or crumble, combined with some fresh picked greens . Hens that are fed only scraps , scratch mix or free range, will not reach the recommended 16 percent protein level. Think of scratch mix as lollies, they love it, but it takes a lot of energy to grind it, so egg production is affected. Use it as a treat.
- Keep some shell grit in your chicken’s pen so that they can get some calcium when they would like. If you are getting thin egg shells or no egg shells, this may be the problem.
- Green feed will supply your chickens with xanthophylls and give your eggs that delightful orange colour. Greens should only make up about 15 percent of a chickens diet.
It is important to collect your eggs as soon as you can after they are laid. If you are planning on not using them straight away, it is best to keep them pointed end down in the refrigerator. We find it best to keep them in egg cartons. On our kitchen counter we have an egg skelter that allows us to know which the freshest eggs are and which ones to use first. Remember though that on day on the bench on a hot day is equal to a week in the fridge.
If we are planning on incubating the eggs then we store them in an egg carton at room temperature and turn them every day till they are set.
Eggs are delivered with a special coating on them so it is best if you don’t wash them and they are porous so you may wash bacteria into the egg. If they are dirty, wipe clean with a soft dry cloth or rub with clean steel wool.
A hen’s egg production is at its peak from approximately 6 to 18 months of age. Somewhere around one and a half to two years after hatching, the average chicken will go into a moult and lose a lot of feathers and grow new ones. Their protein requirements increase to fuel the feather growth. During moult, a hen will lay few, if any, eggs. Once she gets back into the swing of things she will lay fewer, larger eggs. Some people like the larger eggs from their older hens, but you will be collecting less ‘egg mass’ per hen. With aging, hens will lay fewer and fewer eggs. Chickens naturally lay eggs during the spring and summer when the days are long. Their internal clocks tell them that this is the best time to raise their young.
To get eggs—especially nice, clean, intact ones—you’ll need to persuade your chickens to lay where you want them to lay, not in some poopy corner of their coop or hidden in tall grass somewhere out in the upper 40.
Provide plenty of covered nest boxes for your flock; one for every 4-6 hens. You can purchase easy-to-clean nest boxes from poultry supply companies or build your own from wood. Install the boxes about 2 feet off the floor and deeply layer each with clean, soft litter, such as non-toxic wood shavings, to provide cushioning for the eggs and to absorb droppings.
Make it secluded and dark. Chickens like this and it will help prevent egg eating. Put a plastic or rubber egg in the box first to attract the chickens to the nest box. If you are going to let your chicken’s free range, do it in the afternoon so that they lay their eggs in the box.
SOME OTHER THINGS:
Egg eating is a very bad vice and one chicken can teach the others this habit. It’s best not to let the habit start to begin with so collect your eggs as often as you can.
A fertilized egg is almost the same as a non-fertilized one. The egg will only start to develop if the egg is warmed to 36C for more than 24 hours. You can look at the yolks to see if they are fertile or not. In this picture the fertilized egg is on the right and it has a bulls-eye.
Just as we are less productive when we’re under stress, so are laying hens. If there are dogs and kids chasing them around the barnyard or predator attacks, things of this nature, your chickens will be living in a state of fear and won’t feel the conditions are right for laying eggs and raising a clutch of chicks. It’s also important to note that if you purchase laying hens or point of lay pullets, they will lay a few eggs after bringing them home (the ones ‘in the works’ before they left their previous coop) and then they will stop laying for about three weeks. So expect a dry spell with new hens. In general, keep them happy and stress free for the best egg production.