Since chickens have been domesticated for many years, providing a healthy and natural feeling environment is much easier than with other bird species. “So, with chickens, once this criteria is met, they must be provided a suitable diet and clean fresh water that will allow them to maintain a certain body weight,” said Keith Bramwell, associate professor and extension breeder with the hatchery management unit at the University of Arkansas’ Department of Poultry Science.
“In chickens egg production is influenced by breed, age of the hen, body weight, photoperiod, ambient temperature, nutritional status and adequacy of the ration,” said Dr. Daniel P. Shaw, professor of Veterinary Pathobiology at the University of Missouri.
Signs of decreasing egg production quality and quantity may begin when the bird’s appearance begins to change. “For instance, a problem can be suspected when hens that usually have had very full and brightly red colored comb and wattles begin to have a pale or dull appearance in the area of the face and head,” Bramwell said.
Again, egg production is a result of good health and care of the birds. “If feed consumption decreases this is usually a sign of some sort of change in their situation; although, this is often difficult to notice in many small or backyard flocks.”
Bramwell recommended that when egg production begins to slow down, the chickens may still be laying eggs but the eggs may have turned into dinner for the chickens or intruding critters.
“Another possibility for reduced egg production in birds that are able to range freely is that your birds may be getting better at hiding them around the yard and trying to build that nest to raise some young,” Bramwell said.
Producers should use feed formulated for ‘laying hens’. “If you choose to supplement their diets with other grains or by allowing them to free range and forage for other food sources just don’t do so to the extent that they are limited in their choice or accessibility to a diet that has been prepared specifically for their needs,” Bramwell added. “Let them have a choice of both and the birds should do great.”
Shaw added that feed should be stored in airtight containers in a cool place. “Heat and humidity cause deterioration of vitamins and rancidity of fats in the feed,” he said.
According to Bramwell, the biggest environmental factor that influences egg production in domestic chickens is light duration. “Duration of light is a signal to the birds that it is spring and the time is optimum for reproduction,” he said. “The duration of light must exceed 14 hours per day but should not be longer than 18 hours per day.”
Air quality and sanitation are also important for overall health. “Strong ammonia from damp litter may impair the filtration mechanisms of the upper respiratory tract and can lead to infections,” Shaw said. “Inadequate sanitation will expose the birds to excessive numbers of potentially disease-causing micro-organisms.”
In summary, an ideal egg producing environment for chickens is good housing conditions, providing them a good quality feed and clean fresh water daily. “Also, make sure they have the proper light duration,” Bramwell said.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here