3 things you might not know about poultry

Hint: Good egg production often boils down to a high-quality diet. 

Words: Nadene Hall

1. You don’t need a rooster to get eggs

You do need a rooster to get fertile eggs and chicks. But a hen’s hormones that tell her to ovulate (lay an egg) are switched on by lengthening daylight hours (late winter) and are turned off by shortening daylight hours (autumn).

2. The number of eggs you get depends mostly on you

A healthy hen on a good quality diet with the genetics for good egg production (eg, Brown Shaver or Hyline) in her prime (aged 9-18 months) can lay 300+ eggs per year.

Many heritage breeds lay a lot less (150+ eggs), mostly due to genetics. But a good quality diet is the next biggest factor – the lower the quality of the diet, the fewer the eggs.

3. The pecking order is real and it can be brutal

The jostling in the pecking order starts on day three of a chick’s life and takes 10-15 weeks to sort out. Chicks will push around other chicks at feeding time and progress to feather pecking fights by day 16.

It is instinctive behaviour, mostly related to feed, which is why it’s important to have plenty of well-spaced feeders (always full) and waterers.


How to best feed your chickens (it’s time to put down the treats)

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NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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