Feeding advice from Philip Lee-Woolf of Legbars of Broadway

With a single bird producing up to 18kg of eggs per annum, and over 65 million tonnes of eggs produced worldwide – the amazing hen takes efficiency and productivity to the extreme. To top this, every egg is packed with enough vitamins, minerals and protein to provide a healthy meal for one person. Do we take all this for granted? Extreme productivity comes at a price – if the nutritional requirements and lifestyle are not fully catered for, the bird and egg quality will both suffer.

There are lots of excellent quality layers feeds available, and this should form the major part of the diet, available at all times of day, but things can go wrong after manufacture, so always check the ‘use by date’ before opening. Most suppliers apply a three month date, but some micro nutrients can start to deteriorate soon after manufacture, so use feed as fresh as possible. Always inspect for signs of mildew, or a flat or musty odour, rather than a rich fresh aroma, and return to the retailer, if in doubt.

Laying hens, should be seen as athletes, with strong, firm muscles, the minimum of surplus fat (inside and out), boundless energy, and endless vigour. One of the greatest threats to these feathered athletes, are over-indulgent owners who fill their pets with starchy, fatty treats – much better to offer something healthy, like a whole cabbage. If your hen eats 130g of feed a day, every gram of junk food will displace the same weight, or more, of a healthy, well balanced layers ration.

However, good feeding should never be viewed in isolation, a truly free range hen will spend most of her waking hours on the move, foraging, dust bathing, walking and running. Given freedom, she’ll plan her own fitness programme, and top up with a healthy mix of insects, worms and vegetable matter from the garden. The result – a happy hen, and eggs to die for!

For more information, visit: www.legbarsofbroadway.co.uk

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