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Optimising Egg Production

This will be of most interest to people with larger flocks where the cost of production has to be covered and profit is required. Firstly follow the general advice on keeping hybrid egg layers particularly on feed.


In larger flocks hybrids need encouraging to eat. Commercially, birds are fed small amount 3 or 4 times a day with an 'eat up' period in the middle of the day. Make sure that birds have enough trough space. They do most of their eating when they have just been fed so it is important that all birds can feed at the same time. Allow 10cm of trough space per bird for straight troughs (10cm per side providing they have access to both sides). Allow 7cm of trough space per bird for circular feeders (the regulation is 5cm but this is rarely enough). Most drinkers are circular, allow 1cm of trough per bird. Birds like to drink at lights on, so make sure there is water available at all times.


Maintain the health of the flock keeping them bio secure. Keep flocks of different ages separate, this will reduce health risks, allow birds to settle in faster with reduced stress, achieve a quicker onset of lay and allow birds to be monitored more effectively.

Before restocking, thoroughly clean the coop and disinfect with an approved disinfectant. If the coop is mobile move it to new ground, if not then sanitise the ground around the coop which should be rested for at least six weeks between flocks.

Keep visitors away from your birds as much as possible and use a foot bath disinfectant when this is unavoidable.

Discourage wild birds and vermin by feeding inside the coop. Use deep troughed feeders with an inward facing top lip and 'anti flick' fins; this will reduce waste and attract fewer vermin.

Maintain dry loose bedding, fresh clean water and rotate their range area or move the coop to rested ground periodically.

The initial signs of health, stress and nutritional problems can often be seen in the egg production before there are any symptoms in the birds. If eggs are collected in the evening as well as in the morning it will be possible to accurately monitor egg numbers on a day to day basis (collecting just in the morning will produce erratic statistics). Look out for unusual amounts of small eggs, reduced numbers and pale or thin shelled eggs. If problems are identified early recovery is usually much quicker.


Lighting the coop will be of great benefit particularly as winter approaches. Lighting need not be very bright (11 watt energy saving bulbs are adequate). It is strongly recommended that lighting is operated via a time clock. The extra light is of most benefit coming on early morning (3AM) and should make the total day length up to 15 or 16 hours. On commercial sites new birds are usually started at 10 hours but not less than they have had during rearing. The lighting is boosted by 2 hours at around 18 weeks but not until the most of the birds have reached 1.6Kg. The lighting can then be increased by half an hour every 1 - 2 weeks up to 15 hours total. An extra hour can be added as winter approaches.


Temperature control will help optimise feed conversion. The ideal temperature is 18°C to 24°C in the coop. Most hybrids can tolerate lower temperatures but will eat more food. Temperatures above 24°C will result in reduced feed intake and smaller eggs. Raising the temperature is achieved with insulation, controlled ventilation and stocking density. Lowering the temperature is achieved with increased ventilation (roof vents or fans).


Ventilation is required, particularly in larger flocks, to maintain fresh air, to prevent condensation, high humidity and ammonia build up. It can be a difficult balancing act in winter trying to maintain air change, optimum temperature and low humidity.