What should I feed my chickens for good eggs?

Answered by Tom Adger

Feeding chickens for good egg production is essential for small and backyard flocks. By providing a balanced diet, you can ensure that your hens are healthy and lay high-quality eggs. Here are some tips on what to feed your chickens for optimal egg production:

1. Complete Feeds: Start by offering a complete commercial chicken feed specifically formulated for laying hens. These feeds are balanced with the right amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals needed for egg production. Look for feeds labeled as “layer” or “egg production” and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for feeding quantities.

2. Protein-Rich Foods: Chickens require a good amount of protein for egg production. Supplement their diet with protein-rich foods such as mealworms, crickets, or fish meal. You can also provide them with cooked eggs or meat scraps occasionally. If you choose to offer these treats, ensure they are in moderation and do not replace their main feed.

3. Calcium Sources: Calcium is essential for forming strong eggshells. Provide your hens with a calcium source, such as crushed oyster shells or ground limestone. These can be offered in a separate dish for them to consume as needed. Avoid using too much calcium supplementation, as it can cause kidney problems.

4. Fresh Water: Ensure that your chickens have access to clean and fresh water at all times. Water is crucial for egg production and overall health. Check the waterers regularly to make sure they are clean and functioning properly.

5. Grit: Chickens need grit to grind their food in their gizzard. Provide them with insoluble grit like crushed granite or small stones. Grit helps break down their food and aids in digestion.

6. Greens and Vegetables: Adding fresh greens and vegetables to their diet not only provides extra nutrition but also helps keep them entertained. Offer them a variety of leafy greens like spinach, kale, or lettuce. You can also give them kitchen scraps like carrot tops, cucumber peels, or cabbage leaves. Just make sure to avoid feeding them anything toxic to chickens, such as avocado, onions, or chocolate.

7. Limited Treats: While it’s fun to spoil your chickens with treats, it’s important to keep them limited. Too many treats can lead to nutritional imbalances and obesity, which can negatively impact egg production. Treats should only make up a small portion of their diet, with the majority coming from their complete feed.

8. Avoid Overfeeding: It’s crucial to provide your chickens with the correct amount of feed. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, which can negatively affect egg production and overall health. Follow the recommended feeding guidelines provided by the feed manufacturer and monitor your chickens’ weight regularly.

9. Vitamin and Electrolyte Supplements: During times of stress, illness, or extreme weather conditions, you may consider providing vitamin and electrolyte supplements in their water. These supplements can help support their immune system and overall well-being. However, it’s important not to provide them for more than 10 days continuously, as it can lead to imbalances.

10. Monitor and Adjust: Keep a close eye on your chickens’ overall health and egg production. Monitor their egg quality, shell strength, and quantity. If you notice any issues, consult a veterinarian or poultry expert for guidance. Adjust their diet as needed to address any specific deficiencies or imbalances.

Feeding your chickens a balanced diet consisting of complete feeds, protein-rich foods, calcium sources, fresh greens, and limited treats is crucial for good egg production. Providing clean water, grit, and monitoring their overall health will help ensure that your hens lay high-quality eggs consistently.