Eggs are loved by billions of people, around the world it would seem! Back in June, there was National Egg Day, and on October 9th 2020, people across the globe will have been celebrating these smooth, hard, oval cases of ‘unbeatable’ nutrition. Eggs however are beatable, and whisk-able, and you can boil them, fry them, oven cook and grill them, and use them in millions of recipes – what’s not to love?
But how do you ‘get eggs right’ as a keeper of poultry?
The team at Pilgrims Veterinary Practice has put together their top 10 poultry management tips:
- Safe & secure housing – Make sure your coop, hen house, barn, or wherever you keep your birds is safe from predators.
- Room to enjoy life – Content, relaxed, and well looked after birds are more likely to produce good eggs. Make sure your hens have enough room to exercise, enjoy natural daylight, and socialise with their fellow chickens – that’s right, chickens are generally social creatures.
- Good nutrition – A nutritious diet is key to good poultry management and ‘good eggs’. Laying hens can eat commercially produced feed, plus a variety of fruits and vegetables. Never feed them scraps or anything that is rancid, soiled, or high in fat/sugar. They also need enough grit (ground-up shells, stones & gravel) to help digest their food if they don’t have much access to outdoor dirt or grass. Foods to definitely avoid include raw potato, avocado, chocolate, onion, garlic, citrus fruits, uncooked rice or uncooked beans. If you’re unsure whether certain foods are safe, get in touch with our team to check.
- Water – Fresh water accounts for 70-80% of a bird’s daily drinking requirements, whereas the rest comes from their food. Generally, poultry will consume more water than feed so make sure there’s always an abundant supply of fresh, clean water accessible for them to drink.
- Stress-free handling – Getting your hens used to being handled and you going into their housing will reduce stress on them, especially when you want to collect their eggs.
- Healthcare – It’s wise to get your hens checked over by a vet if you have any concerns. Common chicken health issues include broody hens (stressed out changes in behaviour), egg bound (egg gets stuck between uterus & cloaca), pecking, cannibalism & bullying, impacted or blocked crop, and soft-shelled eggs which can indicate a calcium deficiency.
- Prevent disease – The coccidiosis disease is caused by a microscopic intestinal parasite that affects intestinal integrity. Prevent an outbreak by keeping your poultry housing’s litter and sanitation under control and avoid having warm, damp conditions.
- Effective biosecurity – Well-defined practices (controlling temperature, moisture, and ventilation) can aid vermin and insect control, and hygiene, to help limit disease transmission within coops and barns.
- Education – Whether you keep poultry in your backyard or on a small farm, educating yourself on the housing, nutritional, healthcare, and other needs of your birds is paramount to good poultry management and animal welfare.
- Remove deceased birds quickly – Not the nicest subject, but if any of your hens become deceased, remove them quickly to reduce stress on other birds and the potential for predators and vermin to come calling.
Call us on 01425 657700 if you have any poultry management questions.