Nutritional Issues for Laying Hens
Laying hens are very industrious creatures - their eggs are a highly nutritious output - so their feed and water has to be of suitable quality and quantity to enable them to continue producing those eggs.
Basic Diet for Age
The easiest way to ensure hens are receiving adequate nutrition is to feed a complete, balanced commercial feed designed for the life stage of the bird - Chick for chicks, Grower for growing pullets, Layer for laying hens. There are vastly different requirements in minerals, protein and energy between young growing birds and adults. For example laying hens need a calcium to phosphorus of 5:1 compared to 1:1 for growers. Inadequate levels or an appropriate balance of these minerals may result in bone problems, thin shelled eggs and in extreme cases sudden death. Poor nutrition means poor production so keep an eye on the egg output as an early sign that things aren't quite right.
Care must be taken that kitchen scraps and access to greenery does not substitute too much of the complete feed. If so the diet becomes unbalanced and/or the hens simply can't fit enough in to satisfy the demands of egg production. Also make sure the hens are actually eating the commercial feed - palatability can change with different batches. Mix new batches in with the remaining old batch before it's finished to reduce this problem.
The water supply to laying hens is a vital component for the bird's health and production. It must be clean, cool, not contaminated by wild birds and always available.
Store all dry poultry feed in a cool, dry place - do not feed grain, pellets or mash that have crusting accumulations or are mouldy, and never feed mouldy kitchen scraps - the resultant toxins may be fatal. Don't buy large volumes of feed that take months to consume - their vitamin content may diminish over time.
Do not allow rodents, sparrows
and other wild birds to access your poultry's feed as it can introduce disease. It
is also surprising how much these scavengers can eat – if they are not kept away
from poultry feed it can make the backyard egg a very expensive commodity.
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