7 ways to improve egg production by local poultry
There are several ways to improve egg production by local poultry. Eggs produced by local poultry are often seen as money lying loose that needs to be collected to prevent losses. However raising local chicken should be to make profit hence it is necessary to increase the egg produced as much as possible.
The bulk of local poultry lay eggs only for a short period in the year and this need not be the case. With a little more attention local birds can be made to yield eggs throughout the year.
The measures discussed here are also applicable to exotic layers on extensive systems of production to improve egg production by local chicken.
Determine the egg laying percentage
Egg laying percentage is always the best measure of egg-producing capacity and has the advantage in calculating the value of the hens. Relying only on the actual number of eggs produced may not be very valuable as it does not reflect the efficiency of the birds in producing the eggs.
Calculate the egg laying percentage by dividing the number of eggs laid by the number of layers and multiplying by 100. Obtained this figure on a daily basis and compute the average for the week or month. This will help in assessing the performance and setting targets for improvement. Averages below 70% means the feeds are going to waste. Always strive to achieve percentages above 80%.
Laying hens are nearly always noisy. They work and hunt for food all day, and are the first off the roost and the last to go to roost. They are nervous and very active, keeping themselves up to the greatest possible pitch.
An indication that the hen is laying is when the pelvic bones are soft and pliable, and spread sufficiently to allow three fingers to be placed between them. Experience has shown the hen is not laying at the time of examination if the pelvic bones are hard, bony and close together.
Select hens that are healthy; comb, wattles and face red; eyes bright and lustrous; neck not short, but medium to long; breast broad and long, sloping upward; back, long and broad; abdomen, wide and deeper than breast; shanks, well spread and rather long; well-spread tail
Only mature pullets should be selected for laying. All birds that are stunted, undersized, lazy, weak or otherwise undesirable should be weeded out and sold, especially those that are inferior to other stock hatched at the same time.
Only good mother hen in the previous year should be kept over for a second or third year. They usually make good breeders and the breeding flock should be selected from them rather than from pullets. Too often the reverse practice is followed whereby hens that are in best condition are sold and inferior ones used for egg production. This is suicidal to profit and should be reversed.
Improve Laying Ability
Hens should be brought into laying as early as possible. Pullets that delay in coming to lay are naturally poor layers and soon burn out. Such fowls should not be used for breeding and the sooner they are taken out of the flock the better. In the long run such control helps in improving the flock and it is better to have some system of selection than to have none at all.
Put everything in readiness for egg production. Pullets and hens should be placed in their separate quarters early enough and special care taken to prevent overcrowding. This way the flocks get accustomed to their quarters and there is less danger of upsetting them when they begin to lay.
Manage Laying Stock
It is just as important to feed well for eggs as it is to breed well. Fowls do best when given plenty of space to forage in. At all times there should be abundant clean water available to the hens.
During cold weather increase the energy content of the feed by adding carbohydrates to the normal ration. As the weather grows colder larger quantities of energy are used to maintain the body heat. Egg production can continue without interruption even during extremely cold weather if the hens are fed well.
Plenty of shade should be provided during hot weather and the houses kept as open as possible so as to be cool and comfortable for roosting. Reduce the energy content of the feed by reducing the amount of carbohydrates in the ration.
Hens that are molting should be fed well but should not get a ration too rich in protein because they are not laying. They do better when given a ration richer than usual in energy content. By proper management, many good laying hens can lay an occasional egg even while going through the molting.
Hens that have stopped laying should be culled out and managed differently from the rest of the flock. A layers ration and reduced exercise can start them laying again. Those that do not go back to laying within a reasonable time or lay for only a few weeks and then stop should be sold.
Pullets can be fed more highly than hens during the early months of growth. At this time, they need abundant protein, because they are not only growing in flesh but are filling out their bones and either preparing for, or actually laying.
A pullet is by no means fully mature when she starts to lay. It needs ample food to complete its development. Pullets should neither be forced to begin laying early nor to delay laying.
Handle birds gently
Hens should be protected against sudden changes. Excitement due to rough handling and fear from any cause are detrimental to the birds. Often the entrance of foreign objects, animals or visitors in the pens will cause disturbance, so these should be kept out as much as possible. When it is necessary to carry some unfamiliar object among the flock, this should be done gradually. Even the wearing of unusual attire, especially if this is of some flashy color, will disturb the fowls until they are accustomed to it.
Although birds on free range are not so likely to be disturbed, making sudden motions, calling loudly, or otherwise startling the fowls should be avoided. Enter the pens as quietly as possible and if necessary signify entrance by making some noise such as low whistling, so the hens are alerted of your approach.
Hens, especially laying hens, become attached to their quarters. They therefore should not be unnecessarily moved as this also affects the laying. Changes should be done with the least possible disturbance where it is absolutely necessary. When hens must be handled or carried, this should always be done at night and the fowls should be held gently with the hand beneath the breast, never by the feet.
Broodiness is a characteristic of hens. Persistent brooders should be culled out and never used as breeders. But in otherwise normal hens, broodiness can be broken when necessary when necessary. One of the quickest ways is to confine the hens with a reserve male in a pen where there are no nests and feeding them well on a layers ration. Often the hens will begin to lay within a week or ten days. Under no condition should the hens be starved because it is not only cruel but also causes injuries to the hen.