Backyard Poultry

Good Nutrition is Key to a Healthy and Productive Flock

Flock Management : Layer Nutrition

Mikelle Roeder

Ph.D. - Multi-Species Nutritionist

Finding the best chicken feed for your flock can be difficult.

It is important to select a complete feed that gives your chicks all the nutrition they need to grow into healthy hens. Once they’ve reached maturity, there are several complete feed options that can optimize egg production and quality, such as feeds containing omega-3.
 
Despite its apparent nutritional perfection — including being the most perfect (American Egg Board, Egg Nutrition Facts, 2013) source of protein in the world — the egg can be affected by improving what is fed to the hen. This improvement in the nutrient profile of the egg demonstrates that not only are we what we eat, but apparently our hens, and therefore their eggs, are too.
 
What goes in…
Hens are very good at incorporating what they eat into the developing egg. Hens fed ground flaxseed will produce eggs with a much higher level of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an important omega-3 fatty acid, while those fed algae meal will lay eggs with higher amounts of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), another very valuable omega-3 fatty acid. The greater inclusion of vitamin D in today’s poultry feeds has increased its concentration in eggs. Even the color of the yolk is influenced by pigments the hen consumes.
 
Poor-quality diets are passé
This is a very important concept for people raising backyard hens for eggs. Feed them a poor diet of unfortified scratch grains and table scraps, and not only will the nutrition of the egg suffer, but the hen’s production will likely decrease, and her eggshells will be thinner, contributing to increased breakage and wastage.
 
Many people remember their grandparents feeding chickens this way, but we now know much more about nutrition of both chickens and humans than we did back then, and your grandparents’ chickens probably had much larger areas in which to roam and forage for insects, grubs and various forbs. Your grandparents also may not have used supplemental light to keep hens laying through the winter, when there are no bugs or weeds to consume.
 
Purina® Layena® Plus Omega-3: formulated to deliver benefits 
Scientists have worked hard to determine the nutritional requirements of chickens and to develop feeds that meet those requirements. Purina® Layena® Plus Omega-3 feed is formulated to result in more omega-3 in the egg than a typical egg and has a natural vegetarian formula with added vitamins, minerals, and trace nutrients and without added antibiotics or hormones.
 
Like all Purina Poultry Feeds, Layena® Plus Omega-3 feed contains marigold extract for rich golden yolks, key levels of calcium and manganese for strong shells with fewer cracks, and an optimized level of Vitamin E help support a healthy immune system.
 
We know that we need to feed our hens the best chicken feed with properly designed, high-quality feeds if we want them to provide us with the best eggs possible. If you put it in the hen, she will put it in the egg. It is trickle- down nutrition at its functional best and answers the age-old question that it’s not the chicken or the egg, but in fact it’s the chicken and the egg.