Hobby farm egg production is growing in popularity.
Farm fresh, possibly even organic, eggs are quite desirable and for good reason! For the most part, the taste and overall quality of “home grown” eggs far surpasses what can be found in grocery stores. Whether you’ve already got your flock of hens or you’re considering whether backyard chickens are a good fit for you, the below article will give you some valuable pointers on what it takes to produce great eggs on a hobby farm.
Fuel for Hens
Each egg contains approximately six grams of protein, six grams of fat and is surrounded by its shell made of calcium. Hens need a good deal of nutrients to stay healthy and produce quality eggs. It is recommended that hens get fed 16%-18% protein and 3 1/2% calcium feed. In addition to their regular feed hens also appreciate healthy treats on occasion and extra calcium supplements. We recommend working with your local veterinarian to ensure your chickens have the best diet and care.
Hens should also always have access to fresh water. Hens require a lot of water because more than half of an egg’s volume is made up of water. So, be sure to keep your hens hydrated!
Hens can’t concentrate on making top quality eggs if they have bigger things to worry about. It is important to keep your coop at a comfortable temperature. Insulate the coop and if needed use fans in the summer and heaters in the winter. Keep a close eye on your hens for any odd behavior or other signs of a health condition. Sickness can spread quickly in a coop and sick hens do not produce healthy eggs. Make sure your chicken coop and run are built to be as predator-proof as possible. Exactly how to predator-proof your coop will depend on where you live, so research how to keep out predators which are common to your area.
Coop Conditions for Egg Laying
Your coop and nesting boxes must be cleaned frequently! This will keep both the hens and their eggs healthy. There should be one nesting box per four hens. The nesting boxes should be about two feet off the ground and deeply lined with absorbent bedding such as pine shaving. These shavings absorb droppings and provide a soft place for eggs to land, so they do not break.
Give your hens what they need and they will be wonderful egg producers. So much so, you will need to check their nesting boxes two to three times a day. It’s important to collect the eggs quickly after they are laid to avoid contamination or breakage. Once you collect the eggs you can give them a dry clean with fine-grit sandpaper. If needed, you can also give them a wet bath with a detergent approved for egg washing. Eggs can also be sanitized in a solution of 1 gallon of water with 1 tablespoon of bleach. If you collect any eggs that are cracked or just too dirty to be cleaned properly don’t hesitate to throw them out. There are more where those came from!
It’s no wonder hobby chicken farming is gaining in popularity so rapidly. Just follow the straight forward guidelines above, continue to research this great hobby and reap the reward of having great tasting, fresh eggs that you know come from happy, healthy hens!