Qualities and Characteristics of a Good Laying Chicken
We all want to go into Farming, especially egg production business.
Yet we know little to nothing about Laying chicken.
The earlier the better, If we could Identify and Know the qualities and Characteristics of a good laying Chicken, then we would not be feeding a Non Productive Chicken.
Physical indicators to help you identify poor or good layers
For a good layer, the combs and wattles should be full, large, waxy, bright red and warm. A poor layer has small, scaly, pale, and shrivelled comb and wattles. This is also a sign of possible illness.
A good layer should have flexible pubic bones, wide apart to allow three fingers to fit between them while those of a poor layer are tight, quite rigid and narrow, not allowing the fingers. This wide pubic bone space normally facilitates easy passage of eggs.
When you pull back the tail feathers of the bird and inspect the vent, it should be wide, oval, moist and warm for a good layer. The poor laying bird will have the vent dry, small/tight, round and cold.
The eyes of a good layer should be large, bright, prominent and sparkling. A poor layer often has small, sleepy/dull and sunken eyes.
Good layers have clean-cut, strong, refined heads while poor layers have coarse, meaty/thin, blocky, weak looking head.
A good layer has an abdomen that is deep and soft, easily pliable without body fat accumulation by probing fingers while a poor layer has a hard and shallow abdomen.
This depth of the abdomen is measured between the breast bone and the pubic bones.
By behaviour, a good layer is normally alert to her surroundings and is not lazy. The bird is active and exhibits normal chicken behaviour like scratching litter and running around with others.
Poor layers, on the other hand, look dull and are most of the times droopy.
Delaying culling-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.
The grooming does not reflect good laying, in fact, in late moulters, the feathers are replaced at the same time they are lost, enabling them to return to their full production sooner.
Dirty and ragged feathers
The feathers of an active laying hen should be dirty and ragged looking. This is because they use much of their energy on producing eggs and are more prone to playing in the dirt or being followed by roosters.
A hen that looks clean and perfect most of the time could be a poor layer. Be careful when dealing with pullets (young hens), lest their size makes you rule them out as poor layers.
In general, all the indicators will help you do away with the unproductive part of the flock, a practice known as culling.
Ideally, culling should be a continuous exercise throughout the entire production period until the whole flock is productive no more.
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