Three egg-cellent tricks for a productive flock August 23, 2012
Everyone hopes for a productive flock, even if “high production” wasn’t near the top of your list of reasons for getting pet chickens in the first place. I hear a lot of advice about how to get your chickens to lay early, lay more, or lay their bountiful gifts where and when you want them to.
Trouble is, my hens do whatever they want. Sometimes I think I even hear them snickering at me from behind the waterer because there were no eggs in the nesting box again today! I’ll find those eggs behind the ramp to the run tomorrow, I’m sure.
Truth is, a hen will lay when she’s ready, and she’ll lay where she’s comfortable. This could mean you have four of your six pullets starting to lay at 20 weeks, while two more don’t start until 25 weeks old. Or all six of your girls may want to climb on top of each other to lay in one nesting box while no one wants to use other nesting box you worked so hard to build last summer!
I’ve found three tricks to help get me that productive flock. That’s a limited number, but they’re still great little tricks!
1. Use fake eggs or golf balls in your nests - When you place fake eggs in nests where you want your hens to lay, they make the place seem safe for your hen to deposit her eggs. Your hens will assume the other chickens like that box for laying, and will most likely begin to lay in those wonderful spots that the others seem to be using. This also helps if you end up with an egg eater. After a few hard pecks, when nothing yummy oozes out, they’re likely to quit, if you catch your egg eater early enough.
2. Add light on a timer - The lack of sun over the winter affects the hen’s cycle and can slow her laying, or stop it over those dreary months. That timer can set the light in the coop to mimic the summer sun’s natural summer hours and boost their laying. I choose to give my girls a natural rest period by not adding artificial light. Keep in mind that if you do choose to add light to your coop during the winter, there are important guidelines to follow regarding when and how much light should be added. Read more about adding artificial light here.
3. Practice patience - Pullets’ hormones and reproductive tracts have to be mature and in sync to start producing those yummy orbs. There is no good way to get them to lay any earlier than they naturally will. In fact, if a chicken comes in to lay too early, it can mean her eggs will be smaller than average for her breed. It’s a delicate balance, so if you love your pets, try to be understanding. You’ll receive their delicious gifts with time, when they’re ready—and that first egg will be priceless!