July1 , 2022





  • Good feed is the fuel from which eggs are produced, and a thoughtful plan of nutrition is essential for chickens at all stages of development.
  • Hens individually consume rather minute amounts of feed daily, and their rations must be nutrient-dense and consistent in form. Depending on her size and breeding, a hen at lay will consume between 4 and 8 ounces of feed daily. Those concerned with paring feed costs should thus begin with birds that will produce eggs in a truly feed-efficient manner. To that end, the producer must keep goods records so she can determine the actual amount of feed used to produce a dozen eggs.

Read also: Nutritional difference between layer and broiler chickens

  • Some rather exotic poultry ration formulations have been bantered about of late. These regimens may be appropriate for a few particular markets with customers that can afford to pay a sufficient premium to offset the added costs of such feedstuffs. Some can be quite costly to formulate. Components might not be readily available, and specially-designed rations may have to be bought in lots as small as one to three tons. The old rule of thumb is that, in order to be able to afford the on-farm equipment needed for processing, a grower has to produce a minimum of 100 tons of feed yearly.
  • Steady improvements in poultry ration quality have marked the modern livestock era. Advances in the understanding of nutrients were often applied first to rations for baby chicks and laying hens. Today we see some of the major feed suppliers offering all-vegetable blends of poultry feeds, feeds with bolstered levels of omega-3s, and rations fortified with components such as kelp and fish meal.

Here are a few key aspects of poultry nutrition:

  •  Begin with a high-quality chick starter, purchased in small amounts to ensure the freshness of supply. Most starter/grower rations today are meant to be fed until the young pullets produce their first eggs. These high-quality feeds perform the twofold task of developing both the frame and the egg tract. After the first eggs appear, the young females should be gradually shifted to a quality laying ration. Some farmers are going back to the old practice of offering finely chopped hard-boiled eggs to their chicks several times each day. For wholesomeness, offer no more finely chopped egg than the chicks will clean up in 20 minutes or so at each feeding. This works especially well for chicks that have had a hard time in shipment or have otherwise been stressed. Within a short time they should be shifted over to a complete starter ration that is fed free-choice.
  •  Laying rations formulated as small or mini pellets will help reduce feed wastage. Birds are better able to retrieve feedstuffs that they flip from the feeder if the feed is pelleted.
  •  Buying feedstuffs at roughly two-week intervals, if possible, is one way to safeguard ration freshness and to even out costs over the course of a year.
  • Once home, all feedstuffs should be protected from vermin and dampness. A 55-gallon barrel will hold a bit over 300 pounds of most feed types.
  • Most complete poultry feeds are now fully supplemented and include needed minerals and grit. Though the offering of oyster shell was once widely prescribed, it was often sold in forms too large for chickens to adequately use.

Read also: Layer management and egg production

  • Many old hands provide grit simply by dumping creek sand into low-sided wooden boxes that are accessible to the birds. Cherry granite grit of the appropriate size is a clean grit product and is available at a reasonable cost.
  • Scratch grain is not needed in many feeding programs today. Birds prefer it to the complete feeds that bolster egg-laying performance, and egg output may decline if too much grain is consumed. It may be best to provide no more grain than the birds will consume in 20 minutes or so, and to offer it at the end of the day to bring them back into the coop. This gives the birds an added boost of warming energy going into a winter night.
  • You can’t wring many eggs out of elderly hens or those bred for other purposes, but too many farmers still supply rather costly feedstuffs to birds that cannot make good use of them.
  • Feedstuffs and seed stock are never areas for cutting costs.Increasing egg output begins with practices as simple as supplying the birds with fresh and clean drinking water and feedstuffs. It continues with producers gaining the experience to know which birds to replace, knowing when to replace them, and developing better replacement birds.

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