Raising domestic fowl, including hens and ducks, is a rewarding activity. In addition to the love your feathery fellows give you, you get a range of other benefits. These include having your own source of fresh eggs and meat.
But the story doesn’t end here. To make the most out of your backyard poultry, you must have some know-how of their necessities.
This is important to make sure you attain maximum benefits. An example of this is monitoring and enhancing the production of eggs laid by your backyard birds, including managing ducks for egg production.
So, let’s discuss the top FIVE things that affect egg production.
Just like your diet defines your health, the nutrition you provide to your poultry outlines their general well-being and egg production.
This is especially true for the stage when your hens and ducks hit sexual maturity. When their bodies are forming eggs, they need a balanced and nutritious diet to ensure good health and maximum egg production.
Although there are other specific nutrients required by ducks, some of the more general yet essential nutrients you should incorporate into the diet of your poultry are:
Hens require comparatively less calcium before they hit maturity. Once they start laying eggs, their calcium requirements increase drastically. This is because eggshells are composed mainly of calcium.
Suppose this nutrient is deficient in their diet. In that case, the chickens will produce lesser eggs, and the egg q will deteriorate. Additionally, it will have adverse impacts on the hens themselves.
The 22 amino acids – commonly referred to as protein – are an essential part of poultry feed. Many hens and ducks cannot synthesize these on their own and hence require supplements in their diet to meet their needs.
With insufficient protein in the diet, hens and ducks are likely to lay lesser eggs with poorer hatchability.
Incorporating fat into the diet of your poultry enhances egg production. Some types of fat, when deficient, have adverse effects on the eggs produced, resulting in lower amounts and more inferior qualities. This is because fats serve as a source of energy.
Additionally, your poultry needs Vitamin D, sodium, and salt. Each of these plays a specific role in enhancing the production of eggs.
Generally, your hens will start laying eggs when they are 5 months old, while your ducks will begin a couple of weeks later, at around 6 to 7 months of age.
Egg production varies incredibly from bird to bird, but generally, maximum eggs are produced within the first 8 weeks.
They continue laying eggs for a couple of years after that, but the rate isn't as fast as it is in these first few weeks. A major slow down in egg production is noticed at around 6 years of age.
(Accidentally) Neglecting Their Needs Can Affect Egg Production
Raising backyard hens and ducks sure is fun, but it comes with great responsibility. At times, you may overlook their needs or make mistakes while managing them. This, in turn, affects egg production.
Examples of this include forgetting to feed them on time or refill their water tubs. If they’re not getting either of these essentials on time, your hens and ducks will most likely reduce egg production.
Additionally, sufficient daylight (of around 14 hours per day) is essential for hens to lay eggs. It is thus vital for you to provide supplemental lighting during the shorter winter days. In this regard, ducks are pretty flexible – they barely ever need any additional light.
Lastly, hens also require a nice and warm temperature to survive and lay eggs. This would be an added bonus for ducks, though they tend to survive in both hot and cold climates.
As much as you want to protect your feathery fellows from medical emergencies, they may end up contracting diseases. These diseases play a significant role in affecting egg production.
Bacterial diseases affect egg production.
Diseases caused by bacteria are common among both hens and ducks. An example includes fowl cholera. This condition decreases egg production amongst other symptoms. It may even result in the unexpected death of many laying hens and ducks!
Fowl cholera is usually a result of poor hygiene and water-logged areas. Therefore, it is vital to monitor the physical conditions of your backyard to prevent this deadly disease.
Viral diseases also play their part.
If your hens and ducks are unable to fight the attack of viruses, they’ll catch what is known as a ‘viral disease’. An example includes avian influenza, with symptoms kinda like the cold you sometimes catch.
How it affects egg production depends on the severity of the disease. Mild forms are not a big deal, while more severe Mforms can drastically drop egg production.
You Might Not Be Considering These Things That Affect Egg Production
Apart from the reasons stated above, other less apparent reasons may be causing lower egg production.
For example, there could be a handling issue, resulting in eggs breaking while you or someone else is collecting them. At times, hens may be pecking on and wasting eggs. Or perhaps, predators like skunks and rats may be feeding on them.
You’d be surprised to know – but sometimes hens even attempt to hide their eggs from you!
So, you better keep an eye out for all of these factors to ensure you’re not letting any of the eggs produced go to waste.
To make the most out of the eggs laid by your feathery fellows, it is essential for you to closely monitor all things affecting egg production. The main reasons, as stated above, are optimal nutrition, age, and disease.