5 Interesting Things to Know About Layer Hens
Keeping chickens in a residential setting has become a popular pastime in many parts of the world. From Australia to the UK and the United States, people who have no interest in agriculture or husbandry still find chickens fascinating. Many are motivated by the possibility of having access to eggs.
For the record, only mature hens produce eggs. These hens are known as layer hens. Having a strong flock of layer hens can mean having more eggs than you know what to do with. However, that is a different topic for another post. This post will discuss some interesting things you might not know about layer hens.
1. They Are Prolific Egg Layers
There are more than 400 different breeds of hens. Different breeds lay eggs at different rates, but your average hen produces roughly 300 eggs annually. Keeping between 10 and 20 layer hens would normally yield a dozen eggs per day.
Obviously, health plays a crucial role in how prolific an egg producer any hen is. Layer hens in good health have no trouble laying eggs. Those in poor health or nearing the end of their life cycle don’t produce as many.
2. Laying Doesn’t Last Forever
Hens are a lot like humans in the sense that their ability to produce eggs slows down over time. In a commercial setting, a hen is considered ‘spent’ when her egg production drops below normal standards. This typically occurs somewhere around 72 weeks. Spent hens are generally removed at that point.
If you are keeping chickens at home, you can keep your hens long after 72 weeks. The fact that they are not producing as many eggs doesn’t mean they aren’t producing any and all. Spent hens are only removed from commercial settings because they are no longer profitable.
3. Feed Choices Matter
A layer hen’s ability to lay eggs as an adult can be affected by feed. That’s why companies like Talking Hens recommends looking for chicken feed for sale based on the needs of individual birds. Chicks need a protein-rich feed to help them grow to maturity. Adults need a different kind of feed with a more balanced nutritional profile.
Not providing the right feed at each stage of a chicken’s life will affect egg production. Indeed, some back-yard chicken keepers even adjust the feed for their layer hens as conditions change.
4. They Are Very Smart
Chickens are actually much smarter than people give them credit for. Whether you’re talking layer hens or juveniles, chickens are very aware of their surroundings and more than capable of learning. They also have a unique means of communicating with one another. Chickens have different calls – as many as 20 by some estimates – to convey certain messages.
Layer hens are intelligent enough that they will learn a keeper’s daily routine. They will anticipate the keeper coming for eggs and prepare themselves for it. They will anticipate when it’s time to go out to the run and when it’s time to return to the coop.
5. They Need Room to Move
It used to be thought that layer hens could be kept in battery cages without affecting their production. Research has since changed minds. It is best to allow layer hens plenty of room to move around, interact, and do what they do naturally. That’s why an adequately sized chicken run is so important for people keeping layer hens in residential settings.
Now you know a bit more about layer hens. It should be obvious that finding chicken feed for sale is just the start of keeping layer hens at home.