Sudden change in feed upset egg production
QI am getting rather worried about my 11 hens who I bought earlier this summer at point of lay. They were doing really well up until we went away for a week — we were getting between six and nine eggs a day. During the week our neighbours managed to give them three weeks’ worth of mixed corn in about four days and consequently they didn’t eat their layers’ pellets. They were even given scraps, such as pasta instead. Since we returned just over a week ago, we have had between one and three eggs a day, usually two. The hens seem healthy enough, very bright and busy, although some of them do have a snuffle. I haven’t treated them for worms or mites yet: could that be the reason? I usually let them out at 7.30am and they have gone to bed by dusk. I really hope that you can shed some light on this.
VICTORIA ROBERTS SAYS:
Any sudden change in feed is bound to upset egg production. The advice is always to change feed gradually over a period of days if it is necessary to change it. The ensuing stress of sudden change is likely to predispose the birds to any pathogens, hence the snuffles. Try apple cider vinegar at the higher dose rate of 50ml:500ml to boost their immune systems. If they are still snuffling after two weeks of this, ask your vet for Tylan Soluble and treat them all for five days. It is a good idea to use worm (Flubenvet) and mite (Diatomaceous earth in the hut all year round) treatment in any case before the winter so that the hens stay in good condition to lay through the short days. It is also a good idea to leave explicit written instructions for anyone looking after any livestock, even if they seem to know about chickens, as no one can possibly remember all the quirks our stock has.
Chickens should not be fed pasta or any scraps