If you want to help chicken lay more eggs, take time to consider all of the options for chicken feed and choose the right ones wisely.
There are many things to take into consideration when learning how to help your chicken to lay more eggs, the first and most important being the type of feed you use. You must use a high-quality feed, as well as supplementing with lots of calcium. Some high-quality feeds are cracked corn, sesame, wheat, and barley to name a few.
You don’t need anything fancy or gimmicky when it comes to chicken feed, but you should focus on quality. The number of eggs a chicken will lay can have a direct correlation to the quality of feed that you give them.
A lot of people get frustrated when they put money, time, and hard work into building a chicken operation, only to come out of it with very few eggs.
While some chickens just can’t lay a lot of eggs due to a number of issues that are usually related to health, most chickens that lay few eggs can be fed a higher quality feed, as well as more calcium to help boost their egg production.
This can be especially helpful around wintertime when most chickens lay fewer eggs. If you are new to raising chickens or you have been doing it for a while now, these tips could help your chicken lay more eggs!
Chicken Feed Terminology
Just like with most livestock operations there are a few words and terms you should get familiar with.
Let’s start with these:
|Mash – Mash is an unprocessed feed. It can be fed to chicks or adults and is usually a powdery substance. It can be fed wet or dry.|
|Pellets – Some chicken feed is sold in pellet form, this allows for less waste and a higher concentrate of feed.|
|Crumbles – Crumbles are pellets that have been reduced in size for easier feeding, some chickens have trouble eating a need a little help.|
|Fermented – Feed of all types can be mixed with water, this allows it to naturally ferment and can add to the weight of the eggs and shell strength.|
|Medicated – Sometimes when a chicken stops producing eggs it is because they are under attack by a parasite, in this case, you will add a medication to the feed.|
|Layer Feed – Layer feed is used to feed chickens once they start laying eggs. It has less protein and is designed for laying-chickens rather than meat -chickens.|
Why Do Chickens Lay Fewer Eggs?
A few different variables go into answering this question. Some chickens do not get enough high-quality feed, reducing the quality and quantity of their eggs. Other times a chicken may not get the amount of calcium that it needs to produce eggs.
In some cases, a chicken may get parasites that cause problems with egg production and must have medication added to their feed. Such as the case with coccidian protozoa, a parasite that causes chickens to stop laying eggs altogether and must have coccidiostat added to their feed to bring them back to health.
If you have an unhealthy chicken you may need to consult a veterinarian, however, most problems when concerning egg production can be fixed by using a higher-grade feed or by adding medication to their feed.
What are the Different Kinds of Chicken Feed
There are a lot of choices when feeding chickens. You can use a low-cost feed or a higher quality feed. In some cases, your chickens may produce a lot of eggs with low-cost feed.
However, in some cases, you may need to go with a higher quality feed to ensure that you get the most out of your chicken operation. Most of the time opting in for the higher quality feed will get you better results.
Low Quality Chicken Feed
If you are considering starting out with a lower quality feed, these types of feed with suffice. Just remember that what you feed your chickens will have a direct effect on how many eggs they can produce.
List of low-quality feeds:
- Non-organic commercial feed
Over the years, corn from the United States as well as China has dropped in quality. While some companies in the United States produce a higher quality organic corn feed, most commercial corn feeds offer much less nutrition than they used to.
Soy-bean is another feed that has lowered its standard for quality in the United States and in China. These feeds are cheaper, and more available but sacrificing quality is often a mistake when raising high-producing livestock.
Organic feeds can be expensive, and most commercial feeds do not offer feed that has the benefits of organic feed. If you are using commercial feed and not getting very good results, you may need to consider using a higher-quality organic chicken feed.
High Quality Chicken Feed
Feeding your chickens with higher-quality feed can hit your pocketbook, but when it comes to producing eggs, the better the feed, the better the result.
List of high-quality feeds:
- Alfalfa meal
- Non-GMO corn
- Field peas
- Oats or barley
Alfalfa meal is a high-quality feed that works extremely well for feeding chickens. It is high in protein (17% protein) and is packed full of vitamins. When feeding chickens you want the right balance of protein and vitamins and alfalfa meal is one that brings all of that to the table.
Non-GMO corn is a high-quality corn that is the mainstay for chicken feed. If you are wanting a higher yield in your egg production, then you may want to consider a non-GMO corn feed. Many non-GMO corn products are also organic.
This type of feed might cost a little more, but it will certainly get you better results, and that is what we’re after.
Field peas grow in a hotter climate, which helps make them richer in protein. They also have less amino-acids than other feeds, which chickens need so this is not a complete diet feed. This is a great choice for those of you who want a high-quality feed that is also a healthy choice.
Field peas are not grain-based feeds so using them should be done in more of a treats scenario. There are lots of treats that you can feed your chickens that will help boost egg production.
Wheat is a grain-based feed that comes in pellet form, crumble form and mash. However, wheat should not be considered as a whole diet. Chickens need a balanced diet of protein and amino acids, which wheat does not deliver by itself.
Wheat is lower in protein and should be mixed with other feeds to complete their daily diet.
Vitamins and Minerals
Chickens need a balanced diet of nutrients, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Usually, when chickens are having problems laying eggs it is because they are not getting enough of one or too much of another.
The best thing you can add to your chickens daily diet to make sure they are laying the most eggs is calcium. Adding calcium boosts the quality of the eggs and the shells.
Here is a list of vitamins and minerals for chickens:
- Vitamins A, E, D3
- Copper Sulfate
These vitamins and minerals are usually added to most commercial chicken feeds and are present in some of the ingredients.
Adding things like oyster grit can give them a boost in calcium that will make their eggs and shells healthier and promote more egg production.
One of the best ways to improve egg production is to add treats that offer added vitamins and minerals. Some treats are natural and provide some additional supplements. You can also feed chickens food scraps from your kitchen.
Chicken scratch is a term for a type of treats. Chicken feed and chicken scratch is not the same thing.
Chicken scratch is a mixture of grains and is great for giving chickens added energy. However, it can be fattening, and in the case of healthy chickens that lay eggs, you do not want your chickens overweight and unhealthy.
Scratch should be used as a snack only. It helps in winter when adding a little bit of fat can help insulate their bellies.
What Not to Feed Chickens
There are things that you should be feeding your chickens to promote egg production, but there are also a few things that are toxic for chickens and should be avoided.
List of what not to feed chickens:
- raw beans
- apple seeds
All of these kitchen scraps have been known to be toxic to chickens. Stay away from feeding any of these items to your chickens.
All Purpose Feed
There are different brands that offer all-purpose feeds. These are formulated feeds that have the needed amount of nutrients, energy, protein, and vitamins that sustain your chickens year-round.
If you are looking into an all-purpose feed make sure to pick one that is for hens that lay eggs. Meat chickens are fed a higher-protein diet and have a different ratio of feed.
These kinds of feeds come in multiple qualities, you can buy lower-quality all-purpose feeds and high-quality all-purpose feeds. The best way to know which you need is to start with the cheaper stuff (we suggest going with high-quality). If your hens are not producing enough eggs you may want to switch over to the high-quality all-purpose feed.
Home Made High Quality Feed
One of the best ways to save money and still feed your chickens the higher-grade feed is to make it at home. Or even better to grow it yourself and make it at home. While growing it may not be an option, buying the different supplies and making it yourself can help lower costs.
When coming up with your own recipes at home it can be beneficial to check high-quality commercial feeds for different ratios. You can put together your own feed, with a mixture of alfalfa meal, oats, barley, and field peas.
To increase egg production you can add these items to your home-made chicken feed:
- Oyster Shells
- Fish Meal
This adds things like calcium and proteins to your home-made recipes. Probiotics can help your chickens digestion and improve their health.
Salt is a mineral that is often overlooked. If you are making your own feed you may need to add salt to help chicken lay more eggs.
Kelp has tons of vitamins that are great for chickens, keeping them healthy and happy. Fish meal adds things like Omega 3 and boosts protein.
Chick feed is formulated for baby chicks. They will eat chick feed until they are about 6 weeks old. From there you will gradually change to grower feed.
You can make chick feed at home by hard boiling eggs crushing them up and mixing them with oatmeal. There are also some chick feed/grower feed hybrid mixes that you can feed baby chicks and young chickens until they are ready to lay eggs.
Grower Chicken Feed
Grower chicken feed is for young chickens who have not started laying eggs yet. It is higher in protein and promotes growth in young chickens. Getting them healthy and to the point where they can start laying eggs.
Layer feed is what you feed chickens once they are producing eggs. It has less protein than the grower feed and chick feed and is what you will need to help them lay more eggs.
Most commercial feeds are well formulated for all three of these feed types. When using commercial feeds make sure to use ones that are GMO-free and if you can afford it, organic is best.
Fermenting your feed is the absolute best way to get your chickens to produce more eggs! Fermented feed is a feed that is put in water, allowing it to naturally ferment.
It improves the feeds enzyme content and makes it easier to digest as well as neutralizing toxicity. Adding fermented feed and grit/calcium will help your chickens become healthier and lay more eggs.
If your chickens have stopped laying eggs, and appear to be unhealthy, you may need to add medication to their feed. Chickens are susceptible to many types of parasites including, coccidian protozoa (as mentioned at the beginning of this article) mites, ticks, mosquitos, and flies.
All of these could have an effect on your chicken’s ability to lay eggs. They can add stress and in some cases cause death. Mosquitos and flies are very irritating to chickens and can transmit tapeworms.
To help your chicken lay more eggs, you can add natural herbs to their feed, such as basil and others, and you can also hang certain herbs around the coop to keep away mosquitoes and flies.
To know what kind of medication to add to feed besides the natural remedies we have mentioned you should consult a veterinarian.
Last Minute Tips
In order for your chickens to lay the most eggs that they can, you need to keep a few things in mind. Chickens need to be healthy and happy, so this means besides their feed, you need to make sure other needs are met.
Tip 1 – Reduce stress. Hens that are stressed lay fewer eggs. You need to create an environment for your chickens that relaxes them and makes them the most comfortable. You can do this by giving them high-quality bedding, and also adding herbs to their bedding like lavender and basil.
Tip 2 – Ask around. Lots of people raise chickens, and in most cases, they have been there and know how to help chicken lay more eggs. If you are having trouble with the number of eggs your chickens are producing ask people in your community what they do to improve egg production. There are many cooperatives and groups for raising livestock.
How much feed should you give your chickens? You should give your chickens free-range when it comes to their feed. Keep their feed containers full and let them eat until they stop. They know when they are done. However, do not give them free rein on snacks and high-protein feed.
How do I know if my chickens are unhealthy? Signs your chickens could be unhealthy are weight loss or weight gain. If they are not getting enough energy you need to feed them more. If they are getting too fat you need to reduce their feed. Tune-in to your chicken’s needs and you will raise happy healthy chickens.