Happy Hens

fresh eggs in a nest

By Abby Simonsen, PCQI

By Abby Simonsen, PCQI

CVA Feed is all about feeding protein. To many, this might sound like we are just feeding a bunch of calves and hogs to provide protein for the dinner table. Nutritionists would tell you that EGGS are an excellent protein source in the human diet. Check any fad diet out there right now, and you will see eggs in some form in the menu as a protein source.

Nutrition plays a large part in laying hens lifecycle and production. From eggshell quality to protein content, even the color of the yolk can be changed dramatically based on the diet fed to the hens. This is true for hens in your backyard to a major layer facility.

Laying Hens need protein…

Many laying hen diets are set up based on a protein percentage. A common layer diet ranges from 14% to 18% protein. Higher protein is needed for younger hens as they mature to the egg-bearing stage. Once they level out to about 18-20 weeks of age, their need is closer to the 14-16% protein. This is common for hens in peak egg production stages as it provides enough protein to support the adult hen during her peak egg-bearing cycle since she has built a sturdy foundation early on. Hens normally produce about 300-350 eggs per year. That’s about 25 dozen eggs in a year! Keeping your hens healthy is key to keeping up with this steady production.

Another nutrient that is very important is calcium. Calcium is essential to laying hens to support shell strength in eggs. If your backyard hens are laying thinner shelled eggs, you may need to add some supplemental oyster shell to the barn.

This serves two purposes:

  • Hens love to peck and scratch. This is how they would forage in the wild, and this habit is ingrained in them.
  • Calcium is integral to shell strength as well as total health. Each egg contains about 2 grams of calcium, so hens need about 4 grams of calcium intake daily to make up for the loss in egg production. Calcium also supports bone health.

Happy hens….

Speaking of Happy Hens…here are a few tips to keep your hens doing their job!

  • Access to plenty of fresh, clean water
  • Room to roam- hens like to roost, scratch and socialize. Don’t overcrowd!
  • Sunshine! Like the rest of us, hens like to get outside in the fresh air and sunshine too!

Whether you are feeding six hens in your backyard or 15,000 hens on your site, CVA has the products to serve your flock. We sell many options of chicken feed in bags as well as made-to-order diets to serve your needs. Contact your local CVA Feed Mill location to discuss how we can assist in your flock’s nutritional needs.