Monday, December 12, 2016
Common causes of low egg production in hens.
The age and breed of hens are the first factor to consider as some breeds come into layer earlier than others.The average age of coming into lay is between 22/24 weeks but some breeds come into lay as early as 17 /18 weeks. The lighter breeds usually do come in lay earlier than the much heavier breeds. The method of rearing also comes to play,if adequate nutrition and management is lacking then definitely the birds will not grow,and optimal production is hinged on growth rate,physical development and management practices. The health status of the flock is very essential,thus seek healthy starting stock,from proven hatcheries and with proper vaccination regimen.Hens are sensitive to day length, and particularly to the direction in which day length is changing, when it comes to laying eggs. Declining day lengths discourage egg production,thus it is not unusual for a flock owner to have hens go out of production when the day length diminishes.In commercial production,this problem is resolved and egg production is maintained all year round by using artificial lighting to give hens a long day length. Hens need a balanced and adequate diet to maintain egg production. Each egg contains significant amounts of protein and energy, which must first be consumed by the hen as part of its daily food intake. When there is too little dietary energy or an imbalance of amino acids in feed ,it causes decreased egg production. The role of calcium in egg production is very important,as the shell of each egg contains roughly 2 grams of calcium while the skeleton of a typical egg-laying breed of hen only contains about 20 grams of calcium. This means that each egg represents 10% of the hen’s total bodily calcium,this they get from feed . The hen’s skeleton is a calcium store that supply the demands for egg production, this reserve is rapidly depleted in the absence of an abundant calcium source in the feed and in such a situation the hen will stop laying eggs. The task of steady egg production and maintenance of egg production depends on farmer and ability to feed only a prepared layer ration balanced to meet the hen’s nutritional requirements, or at least provide a e source of calcium, such as ground limestone or oyster shell, that the birds can eat selectively. Salt is another factor,when salt level is low in the feed this will depress egg production. Sodium plays a role in egg production as derived from dietary component however, the hen's sensitivity to sodium levels is important as well--water having too much dissolved sodium will also depress egg production,hence water analysis is vital. The production/management technique also plays a role, with cage-free birds broodiness is a major challenge. Brooding is common in some breeds than others where the hen's want to hatch laid eggs. This broodiness can also be a management vice,where eggs are not picked on time,leaving them to accumulate in a clutch. Daily egg gathering is a very important practice to preserve the eggs in terms of quality ,as increase in number of cracks have been linked to late egg picking and careless handling. Hens after producing eggs for several months ,the production steadily decreases as the birds will begin molting phase. Molting and egg production dont occur side by side so when molting occurs, egg production ceases. The break from egg laying allows the hen to restore its plumage condition by shedding old feathers and growing new ones and the eggs laid now are bigger but fewer and not economically viable to recycle after molting.