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Why has egg production slumped?

PUBLISHED: 14:34 05 September 2011 | UPDATED: 09:15 21 March 2012

Our 15 hybrids, five Rhode Island Reds, five Light Sussex and five Bluebelles, have gone from laying up to 22 eggs a day to just seven. Housing and feed conditions have not changed and the hens are healthy and stress-free and they all free range. We are at a loss as to why they have dropped off so much.

Peter Bowers, by email

Martin Gurdon writes: I suspect that the problem may relate to your hybrids. As young birds, they lay like crazy, but after 12 months hybrids tend to peak and the number of eggs they produce drops. Sometimes, with older birds, there can be a post-winter ‘spike’ where they go from barely laying anything to producing a lot of eggs and, as the summer progresses, they become less productive again. Give it another year and this can be quite marked. Also, are any of your birds moulting? If so, the energy involved with growing new feathers will often result in a drop in egg production. Trad breeds will lay less, but usually have longer productive lives. If everyone’s happy and eating well, then this probably isn’t a health or husbandry issue.

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