The impact of nutrition for your laying hens

Lisa Mancell National Farmgate Sales Co-ordinator explains the importance of nutrition to support a healthy lay.

There are many factors that support laying hens including their nutrition, environment, overall health and care/management from the hen keeper. Although each factor is important to get the most from your laying hens, nutrition is the foundation – you really do get out what you put in. How can we expect tasty nutritious eggs if we are not supporting our hens’ health with a consistent high-quality feeding regime?

Smallholder Feeds
Smallholder Poultry

Daily nutrition

High-quality layer feeds should be formulated with ingredients that each do a specific job to promote a healthy lay. Energy and protein are central to support egg production, marigold and paprika act as natural yolk enhancers and calcium, phosphorous and Vitamin D3 encourage bone strength, and shell quality. Dietary fibre helps ensure the birds have healthy intestines and is known to help with bird behaviour and social harmony in flocks. A good feeding regime is imperative to ensure your hens are getting the correct amount of high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals. If certain nutrients are lacking then egg production, shell quality and hen health can all be affected. Complete, balanced and high-quality nutrition will support hens’ health whilst helping you achieve high productivity, egg yolk colour and good shell quality.

Farmgate Layer Pellets and Mash contain optimum levels of protein and calcium. Farmgate also have their Super Omega Mash which is great for laying hens. It contains LINTEC, a processed form of Linseed which includes high levels of naturally occurring Omega 3 fatty acids, this has shown improvements in egg quality, on such a level that consumers have expressed significant preference for them.

Don’t be tempted to overdo the extra treats that your hens enjoy as a mid-afternoon snack. Ensure any scratch treats like mixed corn, oats, grain, sunflower seeds and barley are not confused with a main diet. We hear from our smallholders that Farmgate Mixed Corn works well and it’s also useful to get them back in their houses in the evening!

Feed management

Once you are satisfied that your chosen feed is ticking all the boxes for your layers, make sure your feed storage is fit for purpose. Looking after your hens feed with a suitable storage solution will keep it in the best condition. We recommend that feed should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place – avoiding moisture, sun and rodents. Ensure the container is watertight and if you use metal storage, keep the feed in its bag unless the metal is food-safe with a non-reactive liner. Properly stored feed will then be in the best condition to support your hens egg laying.

When it comes to the daily feeding routine keep a close eye on your flock - just because there is food available, doesn't necessarily mean each hen is getting what it needs. Pay close attention to any newcomers to ensure they are receiving the same balanced diet as they won’t have pecking order advantages for a while! Feed should be fed to birds inside as if left out it can get wet, damp and develop mould.

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One of the most important factors to helping chickens lay eggs is a clean nesting box area with comfortable bedding. Make sure that the hen house has sufficient nesting boxes (3 per hen is generous to avoid any queuing) so that eggs are laid inside the house to be collected freshly each day and not laid under hedges and bushes.

Once a week the henhouse should be cleaned out by adding new straw and giving the roosting bars and nest box a light scrub and hose down. Every few months you should give the henhouse a more thorough spring clean.

By supporting your laying hens with well-balanced nutrition, feed management and a comfortable environment you will encourage a healthy lay and reap the rewards with delicious eggs to enjoy.

Get in touch with our Farmgate specialists

Contact our team for advice or find your local stockist.

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