>
 

Bookmark and Share

8 Tips for Layer Production and Health

Keep your layer chickens healthy and get quality eggs with these tips for chicken care.

By Audrey Pavia

Layer chicken

Courtesy iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Keep your layer chickens healthy by allowing them to free-range in a safe place on your urban farm.

Getting fresh eggs from your backyard isn’t as easy as just plopping a chicken in a coop. To get quality eggs—keep your layer chickens healthy in the process—you need to provide your hens with a bit of TLC. Whether you’re new to chicken keeping or have been at it for awhile, follow these eight tips to help your chickens stay healthy and productive.

1. Provide quality feed.

To keep your chickens productive and healthy, feed them the best food you can afford. The staple of their diet should be a premium laying mash or pellet, supplemented with occasional fresh fruit, green vegetables, meal worms and other healthy treats.

2. Clean nest boxes frequently.

To encourage your chickens to lay, provide them with plenty of sanitary nest boxes layered with comfortable bedding. Recycled-newspaper pellets make a soft surface for hens to nestle and deposit their eggs and are easy to toss away and replace.

3. Allow free-ranging.

Happy chickens lay more eggs and are more likely to stay healthy. If possible, let your chickens roam freely on your property. If this is not safe for them because of predators, consider using a covered exercise pen you can move around, which will allow them to “graze” on your lawn while still being protected from hawks and eagles.

4. Supplement with calcium.

Egg-laying leeches a lot of calcium from a hen’s body. In addition to feeding a quality laying food, provide free-choice crushed oyster shells in a cup in the coop. Your hens will supplement their calcium as needed. Crushed oyster shells are available in feed stores that sell poultry supplies.

5. Inspect chickens regularly.

Handle your hens whenever possible to examine their bodies, including combs, wattles, bills, feet and wings, for problems. Be on the lookout for infected wounds and broken bones. If you are concerned about your chickens’, don’t hesitate to take them to the vet. Avian veterinarians are often experienced in dealing with chicken issues. Before you even bring your chickens home, contact veterinarians in your area so you know who to go to in an emergency.

6. Secure the coop.

Laying hens are particularly vulnerable to predators because of their reluctance to leave the nest. Make sure your coop is predator-proof to ensure raccoons, cats and other animals can’t gain access to your chickens. This means making sure latches can’t be opened by prying hands (raccoons are notorious for this) and the wire-mesh fencing is small enough that predators can’t reach through the bars to grab your chickens.

7. Provide fresh water.

Chickens need constant access to water to stay healthy and productive. They will avoid water that isn’t clean and will go thirsty if they can’t find a fresh source. Provide your birds with fresh water every day.

8. Control parasites.

External parasites love to prey on chickens. Mites are the biggest culprits and will take up residence in your coop without you ever noticing. Make it a habit to regularly inspect your chickens at night, when mites become active. If you see small, reddish-brown insects scurrying around on your chickens’ heads, treat your hens and your coop for mites. Chickens are best treated with a dose of ivermectin (available in injection form from an avian veterinarian), and the coop should be cleaned and dusted with food-grade diametreceous earth.

About the Author: Audrey Pavia is a freelance writer and urban farmer living in Norco, Calif. She keeps bantam Cochins and Leghorns. Read more about her urban farming experiences in her City Stock blog.

 

Give us your opinion on 8 Tips for Layer Production and Health.
Submit Comment »
Great tips for raising chickens. Thumbs up!
http://www.roysfarm.com/
Tanmay, International
Posted: 4/7/2014 8:36:23 AM
Good info.
Sarah, Marathon, ON
Posted: 3/30/2014 10:38:22 AM
Raising chickens could sound so simple (build a coop, feed them, give them clean water regularly, etc.) but actually it demands a pretty good amount of time. It's hard to get away even for a day unless one have somebody reliable to pitch in for its care. And if somebody is having bad luck, comes the diseases.
Dante, Hyde Park, MA
Posted: 6/10/2013 7:27:48 PM
Good information
Annie, Houston, TX
Posted: 11/18/2012 7:55:54 AM

Related Articles

Advertiser Links

Top Products
d
Gold Standard

*Content generated by our loyal visitors, which includes comments and club postings, is free of constraints from our editors’ red pens, and therefore not governed by I-5 Publishing, LLC’s Gold Standard Quality Content, but instead allowed to follow the free form expression necessary for quick, inspired and spontaneous communication.

Would you like to receive Farmer in the City Newsletters?X Close Window
Please provide us with your email address in order to access this valuable sustainable-living content.
Fields marked with an asterisk * are required.
* Are you at least 13 years old?
YesNo
* First Name:
* Last Name:
* Email:
* City:
* State/Province:
* Enter the code shown:

  Yes, I would like to get valuable information from UrbanFarmOnline.com.
In order to opt-out of our newsletters, you can click on the "unsubscribe" link in the bottom of the newsletter.
  Yes, I would like to get valuable information from UrbanFarmOnline.com partners.