Anyone with a home flock has, or will, experienced times of reduced egg production. While it is normal to have a period of low or no production during your bird's yearly molting period, there are steps you can take to increase your birds production throughout the year. Here are 4 tips to encourage your home flock to fill their nests.
Feed, and Treat, Your Flock Right
Even if you free range your flock, 90% of their intake should come from a balance commercial layer product. You can choose mash or pelleted form, but keep their feeders full at all times. Clean water, and free feeding of grit and calcium will support their egg production by improving digestion and good shell formation.
Offer treats like vegetables and kitchen scraps, and black soldier fly larvae for added protein and fat in the afternoon. This practice of later day treat offerings will ensure your birds have an adequate intake of their layer feed. If you supplement free range hens with only corn you'll cut your egg production in half.
Hens Need Light Routinely
Egg production will slow in the winter months, and anytime your birds aren't getting enough light. Hens need at least 14 hours of daylight to produce eggs. You can successfully use artificial light to encourage egg production during the shorter days of late fall and winter.
Laying Hens Are Socially Influenced
Gather eggs a few times a day. If eggs remain in their nest your hens might instinctively behave like mothers and reduce laying to incubate eggs instead. A brooding hen won't lay eggs. Keep nest boxes clean, and remove the eggs from the nests to keep hens laying.
Adding new members to the flock causes some social upset. So, if you add hens, you might see a temporary reduction in eggs as the pecking order is reestablished, but this practice is a great way to keep your production high in a home flock.
Age & Breed Influence Egg Production
Pick a layer breed for the best production. Hen's lay the most eggs in their first laying cycle. Starting at about 20-weeks of age, where you can expect about an egg a day per young bird in the first cycle. This will slowly reduce over time. By the 3rd laying cycle production may drop off sharply. If you don't want to let go of your favorite hens, consider adding a few new members to your flock for continued productivity.