Layers are birds that are primarily kept for egg production. For commercial egg production, good management of layers is off uttermost importance if the poultry farmer is to achieve maximum production.
Layers start laying from about the 18th to 19th week and lay until about 72 weeks. This means laying will not start as soon as you bring in the day-old chicken and will stop at some point.
There are certain management activities that need to be observed from the first day so as to ensure that you make a good return from your investment.
Hybrid layers will lay one kg of eggs for every 2.25 kgs of feed consumed. Ensure you get your day-old layer chicks from a reputable hatchery so as to get chicks with good genes and have been bred properly.
Chicken Breeds for commercial egg production
There are several ways of categorizing hybrid layer birds. A generic one is to use the color of the egg and the nature of the bird. Using this criterion, we can put them into two categories:-
- White Layers
White layers are small in size as compared to their brown counterparts. They consume less food and their eggs have white coloured eggs shells. Popular breeds in this category include Lohman White, Isa White, Babcock White BV-380, HY-Sex White, and Hy-Line White
- Brown Layers
Brown layers are larger in size compared to their white counterparts. They have a higher feed intake and lay larger eggs. They lay eggs that have brown eggshells. Popular breeds in this category include ISA Brown, Sever 579, HY-Sex Brown, Lohman brown, HY-Line Brown, and Babcock Brown BV-380.
Factors to consider when choosing layers
If you want to make your egg production profitable, you will need to choose the hens that will suit your needs.
- The breed selected should be productive. – The hatchery should provide you with performance charts indicating the expected performance during the rearing period and the laying period
- Purchase from a reputable hatchery. – This will ensure you get healthy productive layer chicken.
- Meet the market demand – Some markets prefer white colored eggs to brown coloured eggs. In some markets, brown eggs are sold more expensively than white eggs.
The production period for layers is divided into two:-
- Rearing period – The period before the hens start laying eggs. This is from week one to 17 weeks
- Laying period – The period when the hens start laying hens. This is when the hens start laying eggs to the time they stop. This is from the 18 weeks to 72 weeks.
We will be looking at the management activities during these two periods. First let look at some terminology that we will be using:-
We will be updating this article to include:-
- The terminology used in layer management
- Layer flock management during the rearing period
- Lighting program
- Flock management during the production period
- Monitoring body weight and uniformity
- Beak treatment
- Water management
- Health program
- Cleaning and disinfection of poultry houses
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