Makers of feed designed to spur egg production (often called laying
mash), keep their recipes secret so poultry farmers cannot duplicate
the blend. However, everyone seems to agree that in order to
consistently lay high-quality eggs, chickens need extra calcium (to
strengthen the chickens? bones and produce stronger eggshells) and
protein, as well as a vitamin supplement.
The West Virginia University Cooperative Extension Service
(http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/poultry/pfs17.pdf) says hens use most of
the nutrients in their food for body maintenance. Excess nutrients can
be used for egg production, and a common cause of low egg production
is poor nutrition. ?The laying hen of today has been genetically
improved and as a consequence is unable to live and produce eggs
efficiently on the same type of feeding regime that its ancestors were
fed 30 years ago.?
The PDF file at the extension service Web site provides a nice
blueprint for egg farmers. Here are some relevant facts from the
· Pellets and crumbled feed are generally used in meat production, not
· Hens need extra protein, vitamins, and minerals during the summer months.
· Laying mash should be at least 15% protein, and closer to 18% for
hens in peak production.
· Granite grit can help chickens better digest their food, and thus
better absorb the nutrients. (The Rose Acres site I cite below
suggests crushed lime for the same purpose.)
· Production will suffer if the hens do not have access to plenty of water.
The extension service?s PDF file has information that can help you mix
your own feed, based on your needs.
There are a number of ways to get calcium into the hens? feed. From
the Web site of egg producer Rose Acres
http://www.lionsgrip.com/chickensidealfeed.html and the cooperative
extension Web site, I learned that potential calcium sources include:
· Crushed sea shells (particularly oyster shells).
· Crushed bone.
· Fresh or dried greens.
While roosters may spur egg production, egg producer Rose Acres warns
that they can reduce the quality of eggs. Below is an excerpt from the
?? we do not keep roosters with the hens so there is no way our eggs
would ever be fertilized, therefore no embryo could ever be formed in
our eggs. Fertile eggs break down in quality at a much faster rate
than unfertilized eggs. Fertile eggs are not more nutritious than
chicken feed "lay eggs"
"laying mash" ingredients