Saturday, February 11, 2012

How to Make Your Chickens Lay More Eggs

Color me happy, there's enough this morning for an omelet.
I have been struggling this winter to get any eggs out of those polly prissy pants hens in the backyard and it has been SO IRRITATING. Especially seeing as how I spend a good deal of my morning time, which should be spend hovering over a cup of coffee and cursing daylight, tromping around the back 40, feeding, watering, and otherwise stunning my chickens with my awesomeness.

Just kidding. Kinda.

Lately, I've been racking my brain (and haunting the Backyard Chickens Forum) for new and better ideas to make the ladies lay more.

I will share my wealth of knowledge to anyone who gives a shit here.

Commence.

*I have found that a couple things help chickens lay more eggs - both of which we have no control over - Sunlight and Heat. Sunlight + Heat = Eggs Galore. Winter is cold and rainy in Washington. So I'm already starting out at a deficit. It has been unseasonably warm these last two weeks and even though it still gets dark around 5:30 the ladies are laying almost once a day, compared to not at all during our cold snap. I think the warmth has more to do with it than light. I think when people put lights in their coops it really just warms it up enough to make the ladies wanna let go of their precious cargo. 

*Speaking of that - people seem to swear by putting a heat lamp or other type of light in the coop. Turning it off by 9:00pm or so would be good. We don't want to torture the poor gals.

*Paint the inside of your coop yellow. Okay. Silly idea, right? I did this is in my last coop that was actually just a giant shed that I converted to a coop and the chickens I had then laid almost every day. A slight caveat - they were red stars as opposed to the hens I have now, and I gave them away halfway through the winter as I was pregnant and couldn't stand the smell of, well, anything, really.

*Do not change their feed. If you must change their feed, do so slowly, mixing new with old in ever increasing implements. Just like we do for our doggies.

*Clean water. Everyday, kind internet. Everyday. Pain in the ass it is, it really helps them stay healthy and ultimately lay more eggs.

*Keep them worm and parasite free. I use Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) and sprinkle it into their feed. I also take a flour sifter and occasionally just douse them with it. DE is actually the crushed up exoskeletons of tiny organisms and acts kinda like a sword covered in salt - first it pierces the exoskeletons of parasites and skin of worms and then it drys them out. Pretty. Stinking. Cool.

*Be nice to them. I mean it. If your not going to raise them for fryers, just spoil the shit outta them. What else do you have going on? I think the niceness, treating them well, and being gentle is like cosmic egg karma. We send that positive JuJu out to the hens and they deposit eggs for omelets and cookies. 

*Keep their coop dry and sweet smelling. Now. I admit that I fall off on this a little bit. I have to remind myself to clean the coop every week and sometimes it goes two weeks, b/c I just plain forget. Bad backyard chicken crazy. BAD.

Does anyone have any other good ideas or tricks they have learned to keep egg production up?

12 comments:

  1. I just read on another site to spike their water with cayenne pepper. Maybe this doesn't apply to you or where you live but I live in Ontario and it gets quite cold and dark early in the winter. It says it warms them up? Ever heard of that?

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  2. I talk to my girls everyday. They chatter to me. I dont know if it really works, but it helps me be more patient with them if they arent producing as well as I lwould like!

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  3. play music for them helps them to stay calm

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  4. Hi there, im from the Northwest of the UK and like you its cold wet and dingy in the winter, summer where i live is warm (ish) but our garden is south facing so lots of light in the day time. i have found that if you whistle a song to them when you change the water, change there food & so on. it works a treat.
    you will notice them stop what there doing and stand still and give a little look around fascinating stuff to watch this is a sign of them taking in what ever song your whistling... i change it up to chart to random tunes and so on.

    let me know how things go.. accidentally whistled this one day and they love it for some reason maybe i have patriotic chickens :)

    USA NAVY MARCH HONOR ANTHEM -
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Colonel_Bogey_March.ogg

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  5. I also found this that might help someone out? I feel its a little battery farming rather than free range? but eggs are eggs i guess? and in winter we have less or non?

    Quote"

    Chicken egg laying is tied to the amount of light they receive. It is tied to the season (more hours of light in summer, fewer hours in winter). Thus is you just sit back and watch the seasons come and go, hens will lay fewer and fewer eggs as the hours of light diminish in winter. If you supplement their hours of light they will lay more. My resesearch shows that around 16 hours of light is ideal. So, when the season begins to change and natural light begins to be less than 16 hours, you can begin to provide artificial light to take it back up to the total of 16 hours. Of course this means adding more and more minutes of light until the season changes again and days begin to lengthen. We used to just begin turning on the supplemental light to the chickens when we got up in the morning and unplugged it when we went to bed. We have heard though, that it is better to just do it in the morning an let them go to bed with the sunset.That way they don't get caught outside the coop in the dark. They are kind of stupid and don't see well and could easily never find the door even if they were standing just outside it when the light went off. You just do some back calculating from when the sunset is to determine when the light needs to come on in the morning. Right now, we have a timer that turns it on at 3 a.m. and shuts off at some point we know the sun will be up. Last year our hens laid steadily all winter. They are older now, and we didn't get the supplemental light started until their laying had dropped off dramatically. You are supposed to "ease" them into longer days but we just started out at 16 hours of total light and after one week, the 7 hens that were laying one egg between them all each day are up to 3 per day. In a couple weeks, they should be up to about 5 to 6 per day throughout the winter. (It is now December 5th) Then our new hens (which one of our hens hatched in July) should begin laying about the 2nd week of January.We got a light at the feed store and a timer at the hardware store. Just hang the light where it won't touch anything and a few feet above the chickens. It helps keep the water in the hen house from freezing as much, also.


    Light, space, health and nutrition are all key factors in egg production. "
    - http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_can_you_make_chickens_lay_more_eggs

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    Replies
    1. what do you feed your chickens to make them lay that much???

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  6. Just make sure they have plenty of light and you could also get them some crrumbles; )

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  7. thanks for all the great help i am going to try it tomorrow.

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  8. when mine stop laying I just explain to them girls everyone has to earn their keep around here it is either eggs or frying pan you decide and they usaully start laying again the next day

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  9. I just lean the axe up against the coop door. Works wonders. :-)

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  10. try keeping a fake egg under them....If some one keeps taking from you. you'll stop putting out...Lol thats what my grandmother did...

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