how to find weak low laying hens

For medium and large-scale laying hen farms, how to scientifically eliminate low egg laying rate chickens and achieve refined scale management of chicken farms is very experienced. Many new chicken farmers are always puzzled why their chickens produce less eggs and have low profits, and why are the egg production rates of other chickens always so high?

Many farmers have overlooked a problem, that is, the problem of weak chickens in the flock. The breeding of laying hens mainly relies on the laying of eggs to obtain benefits. The higher the egg production rate, the greater the profit. However, some laying hens do not eat less feed, but,  they do not lay eggs, which wastes our feed cost. At this stage, it is a cost for chicken farm breeding. Although the price of eggs is beyond our control, the weak chickens that appear in the flock can be eliminated in time as long as we are careful to distinguish them.

Before starting to point fingers on the birds, ensure you are not the problem. Ask yourself if you are providing good quality feeds, enough light and clean water. Check also if the birds are stressed or probably there are abrupt changes in their routine.

Also, assess the age of the birds because as your flock gets older, their production drops, with some even stop laying altogether.

We all know that laying hens basically follow a law, that is, the first year is the peak period, and the egg production rate is the highest, basically above 95%. In the second year, the egg production rate drops by 15%, and the mortality rate increases by about 15%. Households will force moulting to prolong the laying period. In the same flock, there are differences in individual egg-laying performance, especially when the start of production lasts for a period of time, the differences between individuals gradually widen. At this time, we should talk about low egg-laying performance and non-laying hens are selected and eliminated. Under normal circumstances, the flock will eliminate low-yielding individuals after 300 days of production, and the egg production will drop significantly after 500 days of production. When the egg production rate drops below 65%, the flock will be renewed. So, where should we start to distinguish weak chickens?

(1) Look at chicken manure

We often say that “chicken manure is an indicator of the health of the flock”. Under normal circumstances, healthy chicken manure is abundant and soft, dark brown in color, and covered with a layer of urate deposits on the top of the manure. The color of the chicken manure of the sick chickens is not normal and there are many diarrhea. The chicken manure of oligarchic chickens is mostly strip-shaped and hard in texture.


(2) Look at the anus

Chickens with good egg-laying performance have large, plump and moist anus, and an oval shape; weak chickens with low egg-laying performance have small, wrinkled anus and round shape.


(3) Look at the head

We often say that “observing words and expressions” is a basic skill for a person to walk in society, and in laying hens, it is equally important to observe words and expressions. Mainly wattles, combs and beaks. For laying hens with high egg-laying performance and health, the combs and wattles are large and ruddy. The combs and wattles of low-yielding and weak chickens show varying degrees of shrinkage. When the laying hens are sick, the combs and wattles are swollen, pale or atrophied. .


(4) Look at the bones

Mainly the tibia and pubis. The development of the shin length represents the uniformity of the development of the skeleton of the chickens. The egg-laying canal of the chicken is composed of two pubic bones. If the shin length is not up to standard, it indicates that the pubic bone is not well developed, and the formed birth canal is narrow. When the chicken lays eggs It will increase the intra-abdominal pressure and easily lead to prolapse of the anus. For laying hens with good egg-laying performance, the pubic bone should be more than 3.5cm away from the vertical pubic bone, and the horizontal distance between the pubic bone and the keel should be more than 4.6 cm. On the contrary, if the above standards are not met, it is difficult for the egg-laying performance to meet the ideal requirements.


(5) Look at the abdomen

If the abdomen of the chicken does not shrink and expand, and the touch is soft and suitable, then the egg-laying performance of the chicken is better. If the abdomen of the chicken is narrow, it is obvious that there is a phenomenon of stunting. If it is hard to the touch, there may be yolk peritonitis, and if it is soft to the touch, there may be hydrocele.


(6) Look at feathers

Whether the feathers are messy or not is an important criterion for judging whether the laying performance of laying hens is good. The feathers are dull, mutilated and dark? But don’t be ugly. This is the characteristic of high-yield laying hens. Because they have to lay eggs, there is no extra nutrition to dress up their feathers, and the feathers of low-yielding and weak chickens are mostly bright and neat. We all know that laying hens basically moult once a year, mainly in autumn. If some chickens are found to moult in late summer and early autumn, then the egg-laying performance of such chickens has declined and can be considered for elimination. Sick chickens will have disheveled feathers.


(7) Look at the shape

① Feed intake. High-yielding chickens consume a large amount of food, so they are active in feeding and will keep eating; low-yielding chickens and sick chickens have low feed intake and poor appetite because of their small consumption. ②Listen to the call. High-yielding chickens will cluck rhythmically after laying eggs in the morning, which is cheerful, high-pitched, excited, and very fulfilling; low-yielding chickens have a hoarse and deep cry. ③ Look at the action. High-yielding chickens are more lively and active, and have a docile temperament; low-yielding chickens prefer to lie down and limp.


(8) Laying big size eggs

Many novice people think that the bigger the egg, the better, but it’s not true. Some chickens can only lay an egg in about three days. Although the size of the egg is relatively large, the egg-material ratio is not cost-effective.


(9) Moulting period

Moulting period (when birds lose feathers) requires better understanding of the feathers. It is, thus, advisable to delay culling when a significant portion of the flock is moulting, lest you remove some good laying birds.

During this time, most hens stop producing eggs until moulting is complete. Laying for some chicken may not be affected, but their moulting may be lengthened.

Moulting in good layers starts late and is quite rapid while in poor layers, it starts early and is slow, making the latter appear better groomed.


In short, weak chickens and discontinued chickens are “waste chickens” hidden in the flock, which directly lead to an increase in breeding costs. Therefore, it is necessary to accurately distinguish and eliminate weak chickens and stop production of chickens in time. However, some farmers find that the laying hens are a little abnormal, and they will be eliminated, which will cause certain “accidental injuries”. We should consider sound, shape, sex and other aspects more comprehensively, select them in time, and eliminate them accurately.

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