Backyard Poultry

Three Tips for Quality Eggs from Your Backyard Chickens

Flock Management : Egg Production

Mikelle Roeder, Ph.D.

Multi-Species Nutritionist

Raising a backyard flock is a great first step toward self-sufficiency. Help your chickens improve their egg quality and production by providing a complete layer feed, great care and a happy home.

You and your backyard chickens: It’s the perfect partnership. You provide your hens shelter, care and quality feeds. They provide you nutritious eggs and undeniable companionship. But what’s best for your flock and how can you help them produce the best eggs for your family?
 
Create a strong plan for providing your hen’s the best feed, home and care possible with these tips:
 

1. Provide a complete layer feed.

Laying eggs is a full-time job for your hens, so provide the nutrients they need to be most successful. The number one tool you can give them is a complete layer feed when they begin to lay eggs around 18 weeks of age. Ensure that at least 90 percent of your hens’ diet is from a complete layer feed.
 
Choose a layer feed with the Purina® Oyster Strong® System to help your hens lay strong and stay strong. Which layer feed + Oyster Strong® System is right for your flock?
 
The Oyster Strong® System utilizes larger particles of oyster shell to provide a slow and steady release of calcium during the night when hens are forming eggshells. Vitamin D is like the taxi that gets the calcium into your hen’s bloodstream where it’s needed, while manganese helps strengthen and create the structure of the egg. The Oyster Strong® System brings all three nutrients together to help your hens make strong, healthy eggshells.
 
 

Purina® complete layer feeds are formulated to include all the nutrients hens require while laying eggs. Your hens’ diet should include calcium for strong shells; amino acids, vitamins and minerals for enhanced egg quality and hen health; and probiotics and prebiotics to promote digestive function.

The complete layer feed should comprise at least 90 percent of the hen’s diet. The remaining 10 percent can come from supplemental feeds, such as scratch grains, good-quality table scraps and oyster shells.
 
Too much “extra feed”, like scratch grains or table scraps, can dilute and unbalance the complete nutrition in your hens’ pellets or crumbles, affecting their egg production and health.
 

2. Gather eggs 2-3 times per day.

Once hens begin laying eggs, be sure to gather eggs each morning and evening. This helps to keep the eggs cleaner and reduces chances for eggs to get cracked by hen traffic in the nests.
 
Egg cracks can allow bacteria access to the interior of the egg. Microscopic cracks and large cracks can be a result of an inadequate diet and infrequent egg gathering. All Purina® premium layer feeds are infused with the Oyster Strong® System to ensure your laying hens achieve a balanced supply of calcium through a blend of oyster shell, vitamin D and manganese. These three ingredients work together to help your chickens produce strong-shelled, delicious eggs each day.
 
Gathering eggs 2-3 times per day can help prevent eggs from getting stepped on and broken, which can lead to egg eating. Egg eating generally occurs when a hen finds a broken egg, tastes it, likes it, begins searching for other broken eggs and then learns to break them herself. Address egg eating by feeding your hens for strong shells and gathering eggs frequently. 
 

3. Provide 16 hours of light per day.

Light is a critical ingredient in egg laying. One primary reason hens may stop laying eggs is decreasing day length.

Hens need a minimum of 16 hours of daylight to sustain strong production. Without supplemental light, they may naturally stop laying eggs when daylight drops below 12 hours per day due to a hormonal response in the hen that is triggered by light. 

To address this hormonal response and promote long-term egg production, provide one incandescent 25-watt or LED 3- to 9-watt bulb (brighter light is neither necessary nor advantageous) per 100 square feet of coop space. Use an automatic timer to keep light and dark hours consistent so hens stay on a laying and sleeping schedule.
 
As with nutrition and management, consistency is key when providing light to our hens. Just a day or two of change in any of these factors can hinder egg production.
 
Level up with Oyster Strong® and sign-up for the Feed Greatness® Challenge.