Rearing chickens for eggs can be a little challenging if you are not prepared for it. Raising up chickens for eggs is one of the niches in the poultry industry. There are a lot of challenges a farmer faces once he starts preparing his chickens for eggs. This includes knowing the exact types of chickens to raise for eggs, deciding on the egg farming methods to use, building a coop to keep them safe from predators, keeping them safe from pests and many others. Sometimes, we are even tempted to consume the eggs or use them in baking. However, this article prepares you to overcome these challenges by providing you with enough information on rearing chickens for eggs.
Do you have enough time for it?
Rearing up chickens for egg production would require a lot from you. You have to have enough time to schedule to carter for the chicks and chickens. Once you get the chickens or chicks, your work begins. You will need enough time to clean the eggs and provide feed for the chicken.
If your answer to the above question is yes, then you need to choose the right breed for your poultry farm. Now let’s discuss this.
Choose the right chicken breed and purchase them
If you want to rear chickens for eggs, then you will need to get the chicken breeds that will work for you. The types of chickens to raise for eggs may not be the same raised for meat production. This makes the difference between the breeds. There are so many breeds around the world. Therefore, you must choose the kind of breed that is used for egg production. If it appears difficult finding the right breed for you farm, then check what breeds other livestock farmers in your area have been using. If they have been flourishing in the chicken farm business, then they must have been using the right breed. What makes the difference between these breeds? You have to know that chicken breeds differ in sizes, color, plumage, earlobe color, egg color, leg color, the number of toes they have and the comb. These breeds are divided into bigger groups which are the broilers and the layers. The broilers are chickens that are raised for meat production whereas the layers are chickens raised for egg production. The egg farming methods can only be based on layers.
Before you go ahead to get the chickens for egg production, make sure that rearing of chickens in the area is permitted by the government. This is because you will need to include a rooster or two to your flock and roosters make a lot of noise in the morning and not everyone likes such noise. You should discuss with your neighbor. Your neighbor is the closest around you and they can be more affected by the noise than any other person far away from you. If you are planning to get involved in backyard egg production project, then your neighbor needs to be aware of it. This is necessary if you are living in town. You can give your neighbor a treat that can make him or her more amenable to the idea of raising up chickens.
Now let’s look at the breeds that are used for egg production.
The Leghorn is among the types of chickens to raise for eggs. It is a very popular breed for egg laying and it usually lays white eggs. What is special about this breed is that it is resistant to climate change and can lay an egg every day. Most people don’t prefer them because they are quite flighty and scary. However, if you raise them up while they are chicks, you can teach them to behave properly. Be careful not to mistake this breed for another because they come in a variety of colors.
New Hampshire Red
This breed is called New Hampshire Red because they originated from the Rhode Island Red in New Hampshire around the 1900’s. Just like Leghorn, they are resistant to climate change. Unlike the Leghorn, this breed is friendly and can easily be handled by the farmer. New Hampshire Red matures very early and weighs quite heavy. They produce eggs which are brown and large in size. The good thing about this breed is that they have a high production of eggs.
The Delaware is one types of chickens to raise for eggs. They are called Delaware because they originated from Delaware. They are covered with black markings. These breeds can be used for backyard egg production. Just the New Hampshire, the Delaware are high in egg production and their eggs are usually large and brown. This breed is easy to handle because they are friendly and docile. Most people prefer to raise up the Delaware because they are resistant to hot climates and are extremely good layers.
They originate from China. They come in variety of colors and are so resistant to climatic changes. They produce large proud eggs though their production rate may not be as high as other breeds. They are very docile and easy to look after. They are dual purpose breeds.
This breed usually lays large brown eggs and are very high in their production. When kept together, there is not much fighting amongst them. They come in variety of colors and are very docile and easy to look after. The Wyandotte is a dual purpose breed. They get broody at times and this can be serious problem if you are keeping them as layers. What is good about this breed is that they are very friendly and can tolerate all kinds of climate changes.
This breed originated from New England. They are dual purpose breeds-can be used for egg and meat production. Plymouth Rock can be great layers. They lay large brown eggs and are tolerant to all kinds of climate changes. They come in variety of colors and are very friendly breeds which are easy to handle.
Other breeds that fall under the types of chickens to raise for eggs are the Ameraucana, the Buckeye, the Dominique, the Rhode Island White. These breeds have common characteristics. They are mostly very friendly, lay large eggs, can tolerate all climates and are very high in egg production. This proves that they are good egg layers for a business in egg production. Getting such breeds is already a guarantee that you will be profitable in your business as a poultry farmer. Since you are rearing chickens for egg production, then you would need to include some roosters to your hens. This is to make sure that there is constant supply of eggs in the farm. This means that if you are planning on keeping two chickens as a start for your backyard egg production project, then you would need a rooster and a hen. The idea is that just as a hen is necessary for egg production, the rooster’s role is also very indispensable.
Once you are done deciding on the breeds you want to raise for your chicken farm, you should get the chickens or the breeds ready. It is usually advisable to use several types of egg laying chickens. Most farmers involved in backyard egg production project start by keeping two chickens, the rooster and the hen. Make sure you decide your egg farming methods. Egg farming methods are the strategies you employ in your farm in order to assure that your chickens lay enough eggs.
Get a coop for your chickens
No matter the egg farming methods you want to use, you should get a chicken coop. Chicken coops are made with woods and so you may decide building one for your chicken. There are many books online that talk about building chicken coops. They provide you with easy plans you can follow using cheap and easily available materials. You can always get such books online. You may prefer buying it instead. However, you should make sure that they suit the amount of chickens you have. Why is a coop necessary? A coop is necessary because when the chickens start laying eggs, it would need to hide its eggs away from enemies.
The coop will therefore serve as a secured place. It can be really cheaper if you have to build a coop by yourself and you can also do it the way you please. But, most of the pre-made coops that are sold provide everything your chickens will have need of. They have the roost and the nesting boxes. Even if you are involved in backyard egg production project, you can still get a chicken coop. Your focus is to raise up chickens for eggs, so you need a coop which has a nesting box where your hens can lay their eggs. Even if your chickens are still very small and you are not yet thinking of egg production, you can still get the coop in preparations for the future when they start laying eggs. The coop keeps your chicks warm enough and keeps predators away from them. That is why a good coop must have good chicken wires. Make sure the coop is big enough because hens are so unfriendly once they start laying eggs. Even if you are keeping two chickens only, they will still need space.
Consider setting up a brooder
A brooder is a heated place for nesting which keeps chicks warm. Chicks generally are not resistant to hot climates. In other words, they cannot control their body temperature when they are still few weeks old. Chicks are usually sheltered by their mothers when they are still very young. Getting chicks that are too young to raise up for eggs can be a big challenge to their health. That is why you need a brooder.
Feeding your chickens
If you are rearing chickens for eggs, then provide them with a balance diet. Improper nutrition can slow down egg production in chickens. Eggs appear too small as a result of some nutrients deficiencies.
Chicks consume very insignificant amount of feed. Therefore, their food has to contain significant amount of nutrients. When the chicks are well fed, they grow heathy and if this continues when they mature, they will lay more eggs. The following are nutrients that need to be added to your chickens feed if you are preparing them for egg production.
Calcium is an important component in egg formation. They are found in the egg shell and makes them very hard to crack. Hens need a constant supply of calcium when they start laying eggs. The pullets on the other hand need more calcium for they are growing up and would need calcium to build up their bones.
If you are rearing your chickens for egg production, then you need to keep providing them with salt. Egg production increases when you start adding salt to the feed of your hens. In salt, there is the presence of sodium. Sodium maintains body fluid volume, proper osmotic relationships and blood ph.
Chlorine is as well necessary in maintaining osmotic balance of fluids in the chicken’s body. The hen tends to be more nervous when there is chlorine deficiency.
The presence of amino acid in this nutrient is the reason why hens need protein. When rearing chickens for eggs, make sure you feed them with enough protein. The egg contains a lot of protein and for a chicken to lay more of them, it will need to be fed constantly with this nutrient.
Buy your feed in bulk. So much is spent on the feed and this makes poultry farming very expensive. Therefore, you will need to buy in bulk. What is the need of this? The answer is that buying in bulk helps you to save money and to guarantee a constant supply of feed to your chickens. You can be able to feed your flock for longer period of time while you look for money to take care of other things and there is also the belief that you get to spend less when you buy in bulk.
You can consider feeding your hens with the following stuffs when rearing them for eggs. They contain the ingredients needed for an increase in egg production.
The shells from your broken eggs can be a good source of calcium. Rather than throwing them away, dry them and add to the feed of your chickens. You can bake them dry and crush them and give them to your hens.
Watermelon is a good snack for your hens. If you are looking for Vitamin C, B1 and anti-oxidants, then try out this amazing fruit. It contains a lot of water needed to keep the chickens cool on a very hot day. The focus is also to keep your hens happy by giving them this snack. It has been proven that when hens are happy, they lay more eggs.
Cabbage and dandelion are very rich in vitamins; you should consider giving them to your hens to keep them happy so that they can lay more eggs for you.
Water is very essential when rearing chickens for eggs. Eggs are mostly made of water. This therefore means that the more you provide fresh water to your flock, the more they lay eggs. The lack of water would indicate a reduction in egg production rate. Chickens will need a constant water supply source which will keep providing enough water irrespective of the season.
Gathering of eggs
When rearing up chickens for eggs, you have to think of gathering the eggs. You will need to always gather the eggs to free up the nesting boxes. This is because hens have to continue laying eggs and if the place is not free, they will consider somewhere else. This happens mostly in a pasture farming where the chickens are free ranging. If you are involved in free ranging poultry, then always try to keep the nesting boxes free. Experts have come up with methods of training the young chickens on where to lay eggs. They do this by putting a fake egg in the nesting box. The new hens can as well be models for the younger chickens. When chickens of the different ages are put together, the older ones teach the younger chickens how to behave.
When you pick up the eggs, you have to wash them and store them in the refrigerator. When the temperature is warmer, it can give way to the growth of bacteria. You can invest in an egg washing equipment for layers. This equipment can help to properly clean the eggs. Do not keep the eggs for long. If you have plans to sell the eggs, then do that as fast as possible. Older eggs are liable to contamination when the egg white breaks down. If you are selling the eggs, then you will also need an intensity candler to grade the eggs. Get cartons labelling. The labelling does the advertising job for you. You can advertise that your eggs are free from harmful chemicals.
What to do when hens eat eggs
It is difficult to get as many eggs as possible from your poultry farm when your hens have the habit of eating eggs. If you discover such habit in your hens, then you have to take measures against it. It may be a difficult habit to break from but you can try the following.
Gather eggs immediately after the hens lay. Eggs are usually laid in the morning, so you can try gathering them before noon.
You can keep fake eggs in the nesting box but make sure it is very hard. When the hen tries to peck it, it will discover how hard it is and this gets it discouraged.
Keep the nesting box a little darker. Use some pieces of materials to shed light from the nesting box. When the hen comes, it won’t have light to destroy eggs.
Let the farm not be overcrowded. When hens are overcrowded, they are likely to drink up the eggs.
Trim their beaks. When the beaks are too sharp, they can easily break their eggs or peck them open.
Provide enough calcium to your hens. When they lack calcium, they usually produce eggs with weak egg shells. These shells will be easily broken by the hens.
If all this does not work for you, then figure out the hens which eat up their own eggs and get the chickens out of the flock even if it means keeping two chickens only. This is because this habit can spread to other hens in the coop.
Concentrate on few chickens
If you are planning to do a backyard egg production project for your personal consumption, then you do not need a large number of chickens. Keeping two chickens can be enough for you. You just need a rooster and a hen. They can do the job. Get involved in keeping two chickens or a few and you will see how effective you will be in handling them. These chickens will produce just the number of eggs that you would need.
Keep predators away from eggs
There are some predators who come only for the eggs. A good example is snake. When a snake attacks a flock, it eats up the eggs and sometimes eat up the smaller chicks because they are easier to swallow. Snakes can end up consuming all your eggs leaving you with no egg. As a farmer based on rearing chickens for egg, you have to be alert for the predators who eat eggs as well as those which eat up the chickens. The predators may eat up the chickens and leave the farmer with no chicken for egg production. That is why measures have to be taken such as covering the coop and building an electric fence round the yard.
Keep pests away from your flock
When pests start attacking the hens, the productivity level of the hens drops. This is because these pests make them inactive. The pest feeds on the body of the chickens and causes a lot of irritation. This therefore means that if you are rearing chickens for eggs, you need to make sure that the flock is pest free. Make sure that the chicken coop is always kept clean. Chickens are usually very messy with their feeds and water. The flies for example are attracted by this moist environment and then come and lay their eggs and later we start seeing maggots in the coop. The chickens become sick and so cannot lay more eggs. Try taking the chickens for check-up if you see any strange habits from the hens. These habits can be loss of appetite, body itches and so on. They are symptoms of pest infestation.