Laying Hens - An Overview
Health and Nutrition for Laying Hens
There’s an old saying that “you get out what you put in” and this
couldn’t be more true when it comes to your hens and their eggs.
The quality of the food you feed will be reflected in the quality,
quantity and taste of the eggs they produce.
Choosing a feed
To ensure your poultry are receiving all the essential nutrients in
the correct balance for their stage of life, it is often best to feed
a specially formulated diet. The advantage of this is that you
don’t have to worry about calculating the best combination of
ingredients – the manufacturer has already done this for you, in a
form that is easy and convenient.
Layers Pellets or Meal/Crumble
Layers Pellets and Meal/Crumble are basically the same feed just
in different forms. Pellets will be a uniform blend of ingredients
pressed into pellet form, whereas Meal/Crumble is a coarsely
ground mix that can be fed dry or wet. Feeding Crumble means
that the hens cannot feed selectively and they will also forage
Feeding your layers a diet that is high in Omega 3 fatty acids
assists in ensuring healthy joints, plumage and eggs. Vitamins
and minerals are also vital for maintaining health and have
an important role in the quality of eggs produced. Calcium in
particular plays an important role in shell formation, so this
nutrient must be abundant in the diet of layers. Phosphorous is
necessary in order for calcium absorption, whilst Vitamin D plays
an important role in utilising calcium and phosphorous efficiently
– a deficiency in this can lead to thin-shelled eggs and reduced
Poultry require vitamins to be provided in their diet in one
form or another so providing your chickens with a specifically
formulated layers feed will ensure the micronutrient requirements
are met, whether for general maintenance, layers or breeding
The Importance of Diet
For free range hens, the Smallholder Range Natural Free
Range Layers Pellets or Meal/Crumble provide optimum
nutrition. The diets are approved by the Vegetarian
Society and provide all the vitamins, minerals and natural
ingredients needed for good-sized eggs with a natural golden
Natural Ingredients - For delicious golden yolks, natural
ingredients such as grass, marigold and maize are included
to produce a natural colouring without the need for artificial
A Balanced Diet - A diet that includes a complete range of
essential vitamins and minerals is not only important for healthy
hens, but also for good quality, tasty eggs. Nutrients such as
calcium are essential for strong shells.
Healthy Ingredients - The addition of linseed as a source of
Omega 3 oil in hens’ diets has shown to
increase the Omega 3 levels in the eggs
which they produce.
Feeding the Right Foods – Laying hens simply need layers feed,
water and grit. Although treats such as mixed corn and vegetable
scraps can be fed, giving too many can unbalance their diet.
Treats should only be fed in the afternoon, after they have eaten
their main feed and no more than an egg cup full per bird should
be given. Meat and foods that are high in sugar and salt are not
suitable for hens and should not be fed.