The moment you’ve all been waiting for is right around the corner so you want to make sure your girls have everything they need to make this transition into “henhood” go smoothly. The first thing you want to do is make sure your birds are healthy and happy. You want to pay close attention to their nutrition and overall health. Right now I’m feeding my girls a grower diet that has between 12-16 percent protein. Laying hens need good quality protein to produce good quality eggs. When they start laying, or at about 22 weeks, whichever comes first, I will switch them to a layer feed that contains more calcium and minerals. If you feed your hens a diet high in calcium before they are ready it can damage their kidneys. I will also offer them things like ground oyster shells or ground egg shells that are rich in calcium. This will be given to them free choice which means I won’t mix it into their feed but rather place it into a separate dish and let them eat only if they want it. No need to worry about feeding them ground egg shells, it won’t make them egg eaters! Chickens love to play house when their hormones start to kick in so I have supplied them with the proper nesting boxes. I placed curtains over their boxes to keep them dark and I lined them with plenty of soft, fluffy material to make them comfortable. Keep the nesting material clean and fresh so the eggs stay clean. I’ve even placed a few golf balls into the nesting boxes to show the girls that this is were they should be laying their eggs. You can use wooden eggs, plastic Easter eggs, ceramic eggs, even stones will help entice them into the boxes. They say plan on one box for every 4-5 hens. Most likely your girls will all try to cram into the same box at the same time so be prepared for “nesting wars”. A chicken lays an egg once every 26 hours. If your chicken skips a day don’t worry about it. No chicken ever lays an egg every single day. After you collect your eggs they can stay on the counter for up to 2 weeks. The choice to refrigerate your eggs is a personal one. One day on the counter is equal to one week in the fridge. If you don’t plan on using them right away then by all means stick them in the fridge but they don’t need to be refrigerated and you don’t need to wash your eggs. Did you know that most of the eggs we buy in the grocery store are already 6 weeks old? Also most European countries sell eggs unrefrigerated! There is a natural bloom on the egg shell that keeps out bacteria and air. It’s important to leave that on the eggs to keep them fresh. If your eggs by some chance are dirty then you can rinse them off in warm water. Never use cold water as that will draw the bacteria into the egg through the pores of the shell. Eggs should always be stored with the pointy end down. This keeps moisture from being lost because there is an air sack in the blunt end so you want that to face up. You can also freeze eggs to have on hand during the colder months when egg production drops off.
By taking just a few steps to prepare your girls you will soon be enjoying Farm Fresh Eggs~ Cheep!!
Make sure you feed them the right food for the right stage of their development.