Backyard chicken raising is the latest move in an urban farming wave that’s sweeping the U.S. Even larger city neighborhoods are buzzing with the coos and crows of these domesticated jungle fowl. If there’s any amount of yardage around you, listen closely and you’re bound to hear evidence of the trend.
The primary reason these urban chickens exist is egg consumption. Many city-limit farmers are selling the eggs for profit or using them as a budget friendly way to feed their families.
A healthy hen in the U.S. lays an average of 276 eggs per year. That’s a lot of omelets! If you’re hoping to help your prized poultry lay on par, follow this list of ingredients that affect optimal egg production.
Commercial Chicken Feeds + Supplements
Visit your local feed store and the experts will all tell you the same thing. You need a proportionately balanced mixture of nutrients to properly supplement your hen’s diet. Your flock has a particular set of dietary needs that stem from basic ingredients that are full of things like protein and calcium.
Some important ingredients to supplement your feeds include:
- Vitamins and electrolytes
- Corn, oats and grains
- Grit and scratch grains
- Scraps like leafy vegetables, greens and stale bread
- Young, tender grass and lawn trimmings
- Pullets to support growth stages
These should all be used in moderation, so as not to disrupt their meal times. The primary bulk of their sustenance should come from the feed itself. Ensure your flock consumes no more than 15-20 minutes of any one of the above.
How to Store and Administer Chickens
Overcrowding has an inverse effect on egg laying. The more competition for space, the less likely hens are to produce. That’s why feedings should be conducted in a way that provides all chickens enough space to dine at once. Limited feeder space and troughs that are set up too high or low spell trouble over time.
Also, ensure that the feed itself is being replaced, at minimum, every other month. A feed’s nutritional value can be severely compromised by time and mold. Even one that spends two months in a cool, dry place is subject to spoil.
Keep in mind that growth spurts, molting cycles and weather changes can affect your chicken’s feed consumption. For instance, the warmer the temps, the less a hen is likely to consume. As fall and winter descent, you may notice an increase in consumption as your flock prepares to maintain body temperature during the chilly season. You should buy your feed accordingly, keeping in mind that purchasing too much at one time may lead to spoilage.
In short, just like humans, chickens are what they eat. Feeding them the right variety of nutritionally balanced ingredients can help feed your family all year long!