December 17, 2008
Poultry producers have found that maintaining uniformity among young hens in the first year of laying eggs can increase egg production.
Independent consultant Terry Ellener, who works for Hy-Line, said factors such as body weight and light stimulation are important factors that should be kept the same.
Free-range producer Philip Wright, in his second year as a free-range egg producer with two flocks of 16,000 layers shared his experience. One of his flocks comprising of Hy-Line Brown layers has achieved an average of 321.3 eggs per hen in 72 weeks and two days, 4.5 eggs above the breed's standard target.
Wright's flock arrived with 83 percent uniformity and first light stimulation was at 19 weeks when birds had an average bodyweight of 1456 grams. Despite holding them back a little, production reached 92.4 percent at 23 weeks and the flock registered 10 weeks over 95 percent production and 31 weeks at over 90 percent production.
Wright's flock's egg size was also well under control throughout, averaging 66.6g at 72 weeks. Excessive egg weight is frowned upon as this can lead to high mortality, resulting in egg peritonitis and E coli problems which can lead to feather loss.
Wright also makes sure that he maintains uniform weight at 80 percent for his flock. A uniformity of 80 percent means only two out of every 10 birds is more than 10 percent different to the mean.