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Top 6 Tips to Raise Healthy Layer Chickens

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

Layer chickens
Layer Chickens

We all want flocks of healthy, happy chickens producing lots of delicious eggs. We have found that the key to a flocks' health, is monitoring. If you are monitoring your flock, as soon as you see a problem, you can work to fix it.

In this article we will highlight some key aspects of your flock to watch. Keeping a close eye on these metrics will keep your flock in optimal health as well as in optimal egg production mode.

Top 6 Items to Track to Raise Healthy Layer Chickens:

1. Monitor the Environment of your Layer Chickens

Chickens are pretty adaptable but they will have the best lay rate when their environmental temperature is between 59°F to 75°F. In extreme hot or cold weather, and if hours of daylight drop below about 14, your chickens will stop laying. Chickens can also experience temperature stress in extreme weather and it will signal their bodies to conserve energy and stop laying eggs.

Monitor the temperature of your flocks' environment with a temperature gauge and take a record of three things daily:

  1. Average temperature of their environment

  2. Number of eggs produced

  3. Average amount of feed consumed

  4. Average weight

  5. General health scale 1-5 (Were there deaths, changes in attitude, etc.)

Watching how your flock is reacts to their environment can help you stay ahead of changes that might occur. You might find that making your flock more comfortable with a heat light, fan or extra ventilation when you know these environmental changes are coming will make take away some of the extreme changes they are feeling and will help reduce your loss of laying.

2. Track your Chicken Feed

The two aspects of chicken feed that can effect the health of your flock are the amount they consume and the quality of the feed.

The Amount of feed:

Chickens generally eat 1/4 lbs of feed per day or 1.5 lb of feed each per week. Overfeeding can cause obesity which can cause a number of health issues like, pressure sores, mobility issues and becoming egg bound.

You want your chickens to be at their optimal health for both body mass, life stage and egg production. Keep track of how much feed they're consuming at what stages and what types of feed produce the best laying results. One example of this is, if a feed type doesn't have enough calcium your egg shells will be too brittle but too much and they will be very hard. Chicken feed producers have spent a lot of time and money researching the best ratio, take advantage of that research.

The Quality of your feed:

The type of food your chickens eat effects their health. Keep track of what type of feed your flock ate and how their production was so that you can measure the outcome. Here are some different types of feed and supplements.

  1. Pellet feed - pellets processed and added to molds

  2. Crumble feed - pellets broken up

  3. Whole grain feed - unprocessed ingredients mixed together

  4. Mash - whole grain feed, ground up

  5. Fermented mash - whole grain feed, ground up and then fermented

  6. Fruits and Vegetables -table scraps/a treat

  7. Corn scratch - a treat

  8. Insects - what they can catch or supplied by you

  9. Grit - hard insoluble substance that helps with digestion

The recommended layer diets should have about 16% protein, 3-4% calcium and 0.4-0.6% Phosphorus. Whether you are buying pellet feed at the store or making your own mix you should make sure you have those ratios in mind.

Also something to note, depending on your market preferences you many not want to feed your chickens soy or corn to address allergies in your customers. You can find feed that has pea protein and other grains in place of corn and soy.

Organic vs non-organic, all vegetarian, etc. may also play into markets where customers are looking at those labels for allergies. These are all just considerations as you purchase feed for your flock.

The Quality of your Water:

Water is used in most processes in the body; keeping normal temperature, getting rid of waste, adding cushion to joints. So, keeping clean water is important. Chickens consume about 33.8 ounces of water each day depending on if they are foraging or confined.

You can also keep track of how you treat your water and how much they consumed. This is also going to help keep a healthy flock.

3. Tracking Average Daily Gains in your Flock

Layer feed consumption is an important metric. This goes into Average Daily Gains (ADG). The amount of feed consumed by a layer per day is a key performance indicator. then the average amount each chicken gains in a day is something you'll want to track. This calculation is called Average Daily Gains (ADG).

The amount of food ingested will hopefully produce gains in a relatively short amount of time. Depending on the type of chickens you're raising for this purpose this can be something you need to watch closely. Remember; you don't have to weigh every bird. Take an average: catch 3-5 and take a measurement of them and divide that by the whole group.

Here is another article we wrote and free calculator to help find feed conversion rates.

Layer ADG

4. Tracking Egg Production for Layer Chickens

Different types of chickens will lay different amounts of eggs per year. First you should choose the breed best suited to your climate and the egg production you're looking for. Then keep track of how many eggs they are producing each day.

You may also want to keep track of how many eggs you have lost to breaks, drops, pecks, freezing temperatures or other accidents. This gives you an idea of how many eggs you can expect and the profit/loss from them. If you have overflow, you can expand your egg sales into other markets. But not knowing how much you will produce will making it hard to expand. Keeping track of losses is also valuable information. It tells you where you can improve.

5. The Longevity of your Chicken Flock

Layers live between 3-10 years depending on their breed, how they are kept and other factors. Most layer breeds will start laying around 6 months old and have top production for the first 2-3 years. Egg production will start to drop after that. If you're keeping track of their production you will start to see trends in the types of chickens you raise and their production. Keeping track of it is key.

When your chickens egg production starts to taper off, as it will as they age, you can choose to sell those hens to local backyard chicken enthusiasts, keep them or butcher them. A chicken that is 2-3 years old can still produce as many 200+ eggs a year and that's more than enough for some small farmers or backyard flocks.

6. General Health of your Flock

Even the best laid plans sometimes go wrong but with tracking and management you can keep on top of these issues.

Mortality rates for layers in a normal poultry farm can be in the 1-5% range. To calculate the mortality rate in your flock take the total deaths divided by the number of chickens you have that day, multiplied by 100. This is a number that you want to track. If you are losing a lot of chickens you may have an illness going through your coop. This is something you need to catch early.

Mortality can also depend on the way you are keeping chickens. For instance, if you have free-range chickens you face different challenges than those who are managing chickens in confinement. Be aware of these challenges and the impact it's having on your profit and loss. Then you can make changes to protect your investment.

Take a record of these 5 things daily for key chicken health:

  1. Average temperature of their environment

  2. Number of eggs produced

  3. Average amount of feed consumed

  4. Average weight

  5. General health scale 1-5 (Were there deaths, changes in attitude, etc.)

Overall the most important things to keep track of for your flock are temperature, environment, feed, average daily gains, egg production, weight, longevity, mortality rate and overall health.

Take a look at Farmbrite for your farm management. Whether you are tracking your chickens crops or both, Farmbrite can help. Start a free trial today.


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