Small Scale Egg Production
Reasons For Keeping Hens
If you are able to keep 10 - 12 hens (they will lay a total of 9-10 eggs), you will be able to provide for your family or even start your own small business selling eggs.
Eggs are a very good source of protein and nutrition, especially for children.
It is recommended to keep hens in cage:
Smaller space is required.
Hens can be kept in a clean environment.
Eggs will not be easily broken.
Eggs will be clean.
Eggs can be easily collected.
Better hygiene for hens.
Hens would not be stolen.
Minimal effort is required to take care of hen.
You can either buy or make your own cage.
Ensure that the cage is strong enough to support weight of at least 12 hens.
For 12 hens, the recommended size should be 1.2m long x 0.7m wide x 0.45 m high.
Cage can be built using galvanised weld mesh, cane, bamboo or wattle sticks.
The floor of cage must be made of wire (weld mesh) so that hens' droppings will fall through. This is to make sure that the floor on which the hens stand will be clean.
Fit a feed trough to the cage. The length of it should be as long as the cage. It can be made using plastic or metal gutters.
Plastic cooldrink bottles with drinking nipples can be used as drinkers.
Cage should not be on the ground as space is needed to allow manure to fall through. Cages can be fixed on poles, bricks or old tyres.
Not advisable to buy day-old chicks to rear as they are expensive and may die.
It is instead recommended to buy young hens (pullets) of 18 - 19 weeks of age which are ready to lay eggs.
Hens that you buy should be of very high quality and vaccinated against diseases.
Hens will start laying around 20 - 21 weeks old.
Hens should be kept for a year and then sold as cull hens.
If hens are kept for more than a year, they will start laying fewer eggs and later stop laying altogether.
You will be able to sell each cull hens for the price of a replacement hen.
Light is essential for the hens to lay good amount of eggs.
A minimum of 16 hours of light is required.
Put on the lights before sunrise and let them stay on after sunset.
Hens with artificial lights will lay more eggs compared to hens without artificial light.
In order to maximise egg production without using artificial light, ensure a proper cage is situated in such a way to make the most use of natural light.
With 16 hours of light, each hen is able to lay about 280 eggs in a year.
Without artificial light, the hens are able to only lay about 200 eggs in a year.
Feed For Hens
High quality feed is essential to ensure the hens lay well.
Feed must be available in the feed trough at all times.
Each hen will not eat more than 120 grams of feed.
One bag of feed will last approximately 1 month.