All things livestock related at Burns Feed Store!

Laying Hens Not Laying?

WHY DO CHICKENS STOP LAYING EGGS?

Dr. Patrick Biggs, Ph.D. at the Purina Mills poultry research center say:

Chickens stop laying for a variety of reasons.  Hens may lay fewer eggs due to light, stress, poor nutrition, molt or age.  

DAYLIGHT: The first and most common cause of decreased egg production is light hours.  Hens need a minimum of 16 hours of light per day to sustain maximum egg production. Without supplemental light, they may naturally stop laying due to a hormonal response as the days get shorter.   Hens lay best when provided at least 16 hours of light, whether natural, artificial, or a combination of the two.  Some flock raisers use winter as a natural period of rest for their hens without supplemental light.  If you are looking for consistent egg production throughout the winter months, provide additional light to encourage your birds to keep laying.

COOP ENVIRONMENT: If birds are stressed, egg production may suffer.  Stress comes in many forms – predators, over-crowding, aggressive hens, loud noises, too much heat or cold, poor nutrition, parasites and illness.  Check the environment to be sure there aren’t any stressors in the area.  Keep temperatures comfortable in the coop, but not drastically different than outdoors.  Chickens, especially cold-tolerant breeds, can withstand winter temperatures without supplemental heat.  If you feel providing a source of heat is necessary, only raise the temperature a few degrees.  Hens will adjust to the cold temperature, but if it is 70 degrees F. in the coop and zero degrees F. in the run, they won’t be able to regulate their body temperature.

NUTRITION:     Another reason for decreased egg production is over-treating and over-supplementing hens.  Added treats and scraps can dilute the nutrients in a complete layer feed so the hen is less able to produce eggs consistently.  A general rule to follow is the 90/10 rule.  This means the hen’s diet should be made of at least 90 percent complete feed.

MOLT:        Around 18 months of age and annually thereafter, chickens go through molt, which is defined as a period of feather loss and regrowth.  Molt usually occurs in autumn and is associated with a decrease in egg production.

AGE:     Chickens begin laying eggs between 18-20 weeks of age and can lay eggs as long as their productive lifetime allows.  The average lifespan of a chicken is 8-10 years.  Over the course of a hen’s lifetime, egg production will peak at about 250-280 eggs during their first year laying eggs. After that, the number of eggs produced each year declines until she retires.  

Goat Mineral Must Haves

Our friend’s over at Purina gave us a little goat advice that we would like to share with you!

 

How do you decide what goat mineral to feed? Is it the same mineral you’ve always fed, a mineral your neighbor feeds or are you skipping mineral altogether? Mineral plays a critical role in goat performance, so it’s important to select the right mineral for your herd.

While mineral may be a small portion of a goat diet, it aids in many vital functions and impacts everything from reproduction to feed efficiency and overall herd health. Provide a quality goat mineral that supports performance.

Here are three things to look for in your goat mineral supplement:

1. Provides consistent intake

The most important aspect of a mineral is to provide vital nutrients your goats might be lacking. But how can you be sure your goats are getting the intended nutrients if they don’t consistently eat the mineral?

Choosing a palatable mineral assures that your goats are eating and receiving proper amounts of essential minerals like copper and calcium. Also, look for a goat mineral supplement that’s formulated for low intake.

Palatability and low intake might sound like a contradiction, but the idea is for goats to get the nutrition they need while avoiding overconsumption. When goats consume mineral at target intake levels, no minerals get wasted and each goat gets the nutrition it needs.

2. Supports goat reproduction

Many forages lack the essential minerals needed for sound reproductive health. And, if goats don’t receive supplemental nutrition to fill the gap, you may see an impact on reproductive performance.

This could cause your cost per kid to rise steadily, which no producer wants to see.

Goats also have significantly increased energy needs during late gestation. Mineral deficiencies during this time can impact both the doe and the kid. Supplementing with a mineral high in calcium can help prepare goats for increased nutrient and energy needs to support overall health.

Providing a quality goat mineral can help, but so can another key ingredient: fat.

Fat provides energy and helps optimize body condition to support goat reproduction. Consider using high-fat protein supplements in conjunction with your goat mineral.

3. Formulated for year-round feeding

Many producers only offer a goat mineral during the fall when forage quality decreases. But your goat may lack minerals throughout the year and you might not know it. Mineral deficiencies are often overlooked because the symptoms can be slow to show or difficult to connect back to a goat nutrition issue.

Supplying a mineral when forage quality decreases is common practice, but the best way to support goat reproduction and performance is to provide a mineral year-round. Long-term mineral deficiencies can directly impact your bottom line since your herd won’t perform its best.

Look for a weatherized goat mineral supplement that can stand up to the changing seasons year-round. Minerals formulated with larger particle sizes can help prevent waste due to wind, water or anything else Mother Nature throws at it.