Commercial layer farming requires a high level of expertise, understanding and commitment to be successful. Whilst it's important to always emphasise the need for excellent flock stockmanship, something that comes with experience and aptitude, adopting the correct feeding system & housing will set a firm foundation for success. Here are 6 strategies for good egg production.

  1. Provide quality drinking water

Water is by far the most critical nutrient in all production animals, yet it is the most ignored and or neglected component. 80% of the egg is composed of water. Good quality water should be clean, clear, fresh, tasteless, and free from contaminants and readily available all the time. Check and make sure the water is flowing through the nipple system, open automatic system and in the storage tanks. Treat your water regularly using chlorine or any other recommended disinfectant that is not harmful to the birds. Provide bell drinkers at a rate of 1 per 50 adult birds.

  1. Avoid extreme heat

Heat stress normally affects individual bird's feed utilization by reducing their feed intake. This is a mechanism birds employ to reduce metabolism that is associated with heat generation and inadvertently results in nutrient deficiencies, alkalosis, and poor eggshell quality. Remember birds do not sweat like mammals do, so they will instead pant and spread their wings. At temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius, there will be a complete cessation of egg production. Supplement water with vitamin C and keep the units cool by opening the side curtains.

  1. Adequate house ventilation

Ventilation can be described as the circulation of fresh air through the flock house and exhaustion of stale air out of the flock units. This is achieved by the air passing from one side of the house and exhausting through the opposite side. In the tropics, where houses are open-sided, ventilation is managed by opening the curtains from top when it gets warm. This allows air from outside into the house. When it gets cold the curtains are raised up and closed to restrict the flow of air. You must always allow minimum ventilation to avoid chicks getting suffocated from excessive ammonia build-up. Litter should be turned regularly to avoid wetting that is associated with coccidiosis and worm infestation.

  1. Avoid diseased flock

For an egg farmer to do well, they must maintain a healthy environment for the birds. Central to this effect is keeping good biosecurity around the farms to reduce the introduction of disease-causing organisms into your burns. There are many germs, chemicals, toxins, or molds that can directly affect reproductive tracts of chickens resulting in a drop in egg production or complete cessation of lay. Some of the common diseases include salmonellosis, infectious bronchitis, Newcastle disease, mycoplasmas, Aspergillosis, and egg drop syndrome. Fortunately, most of these diseases are preventable by a good vaccination program. It is therefore important that a sound and well-designed immunization program is established and reviewed from time to time depending on the disease map of the region. Make sure that you have access to your local veterinarian as soon as you notice signs of sickness in your flocks.

  1. Nutritional deficiencies

Feed formulations, type of raw materials used, feed intake and overall feed management will greatly affect the gut health of any laying bird. Poor or improper diet balance, quality and quantity have negative impacts on the health, development, and productivity of birds. Any delay in growth during the first few weeks will be reflected in reduced body weight at 17 weeks and in later egg production performance. Choose the right feed in the market and weigh a sample of your birds on weekly basis to monitor your growth profile.

  1. Lack of photostimulation

Female chickens are generally sensitive to light intensity and duration as this has an influence on their sexual maturity. Light will encourage feed intake and hence early organ development and growth, after brooding keep your birds on natural lighting. Do not keep lights on at night, this may interfere with sexual maturity of your birds and hence delayed onset of lay.

For more information, please contact below Dr Watson Messo Odwako watsonmesso@yahoo.com