Tip for Getting Your Winter Laying Hens to Lay More Eggs

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Country Families : One Thread

Most folks know the obvious tips to increase winter egg production, the 14 hours of daylight, extra feed requirements brought about by the cold temperatures, supplying adequate warmish drinking water to encourage water consumption ( eggs are mostly water!!!), but most folks forget that chickens are omnivorous, and need other feed besides just the grain based mashes and mixes we feed them.

Buy a bale of the best quality second or third cutting alfalfa hay you can find, one that has a lot of leaf to stem ratio. Feed a few handsfull or so every day, the chickens really love it and a bale will last for a very long time. It really makes the eggs taste better too, the yolks very orange-yellow and firm.

Continue to feed all the vegetable and kitchen scraps you have, and if there is a thaw in the weather, pick and feed all the chickweed and dandelion greens you can find as well. These are great to boost egg production and good for the chickens.

Melissa, Porterfield's in St. Clairsville just got in some lovely alfalfa hay, just 4 dollars a heavy bale. I got some for our chickens when I was up there yesterday. We raise thousands of bales of hay here on the farm, but we don't raise alfalfa hay here as we only produce organic hay, and alfalfa needs lots of chemicals to get a decent crop of it.

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (annie@1st.net), January 04, 2002


Thanks Annie, I will have to keep that in mind. We raise our own hay too, but it is just a grass mixture. The chickens do scratch through it, whenever we feed the horses. I suppose they are eating some kind of seeds and such.

-- Melissa (me@home.net), January 04, 2002.

Thanks for the advice, Annie, my daughter is thinking of getting chickens in the spring.

Regarding alfalfa, what kinds of chemicals are put on it to "get a decent crop"? I always see lots of alfalfa coming up in the roadside ditches year after year, and I don't think anyone has put any chemicals on it (grin) - so just wondered what is needed? Chemicals make me cringe - wish there was SOMETHING that farmers weren't convinced needed chemicals. My boss said oats didn't need any chemicals, so that made me feel much better about eating oatmeal!

Thanks for your input

-- Bonnie (chilton@stateline-isp.com), January 04, 2002.

Bonnie, I always look at all that healthy growing alfalfa and shake my head in wonder too, I think that there is not enough of it growing in one spot to attract the insect pests!

Here, we have had no luck with raising alfalfa, the black beetles eat it up in the spring. Commercially raised alfalfa is heavily treated with pesticides to keep the insects from ruining it, and heavily fertilized as well, in damp, humid climates it is treated with fungicides too. So, yeah, the commercial stuff is full of residues too, hopefully, being "recycled" through the chickens will take care of the residues that could effect us when we eat the eggs.

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (annie@1st.net), January 04, 2002.

To get more eggs from my chicken, I say things to it like "If you don't give me one more egg, I am going to eat you!" Just kidding, I don't really have a chicken.

-- Kevin (kevinmail@earthlink.net), January 04, 2002.

I have heard that if you add cayanne pepper to your hens feed in the winter it will make them lay better. I have never tried this myself might be an old wives tale.

-- Mark in N.C. Fla. (deadgoatman@webtv.net), January 04, 2002.

Annie, what about the birds of prey before the ban on DDT whose body accumulations of that chemical made their eggshells weak and the embryos nonviable? I always thought that the higher on the food chain a critter was, the more concentrated his dose of herbicides/pesticides would be. Someone please enlighten me.

-- marilyn (rainbow@ktis.net), January 05, 2002.

Thanks for your answer, Annie, I'll have to remember that!

-- Bonnie (chilton@stateline-isp.com), January 05, 2002.

Marilyn, your right, DDT is an oil based herbicide, the ones used locally are water based, hopefully by the chickens not eating meat products will reduce the residues. Those birds of prey ate meat, which concentrates the residues very quickly in the body, my chickens eat vegetable matter only, and I only eat their eggs, not them. Not much chance to concentrate a residue on something passed out daily!

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (annie@1st.net), January 07, 2002.

We put a little vinegar in their water in the winter time-----

-- Sonda (sgbruce@birch.net), January 08, 2002.

First, Kevin, why not? Everyone should have a chicken! Now, this may not be well received by some of you, but I feel that the hens should be given somewhat of a break during at least part of winter. Their bodies work so hard to make those delicious cackleberries for us, I feel a little rest is good for them.

-- Katie (homesteader@accessnevada.com), January 09, 2002.

We put Paprica, and salt on their food to get them to drink more. We also keep a light on in the coop during the winter months. We also crush and feed them the left over egg shells. That helps make their egg shells harder. They do like the left over fruit and Veggies from the kitchen! The strawberries are ripe now. They will get all of the tops as I clean them.That will be a nice treat for them. I never thought about feeding them hay.Maybe because we use so much for the cows, and horses. I do rake grass clippings from the yard to feed them.They love grass. Beetles or something got our alfalfa this year also, but it is growing back.First cutting will not be of good quality this year, but then again first cutting is usually what we sell because of the weeds. I hope the alfalfa will be ok for the next cutting. Last week there was an auction here in Indiana. Grass hay brought $7. a square bale! Wish I had extra to sell! I am not sure why considering it is time to cut the hay now.We would let them pick it up out of the field for $2 a bale. Have a Gteat Day!!!

We also throw a little sand in their coop every now and then.All birds need it to help digest their food.

-- mindy (mpoole@link2000. net), June 02, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ