Tips for New Hen Owners
March 10, 2017 - Author: Michigan State University Extension
Know your hens
- Egg laying breeds of chickens typically begin laying eggs around 20 weeks of age.
- A good goal for first year laying hens is four eggs per week per hen.
- As your hens age, their nutrition requirements change. Tip: switch to layer feed at 20 weeks of age.
Caring for your flock
- Clean, fresh feed and water should always be provided. • Waterers and feeders should be kept clean.
- Nest boxes may be introduced at 17 weeks of age to help encourage hens to lay eggs in these clean spaces.
- Collect the eggs at least once a day, more often in hot weather.
- Control rodents, flies and beetles around your hens.
- Keep your coop’s bedding and nest boxes dry.
- Change and refresh your hens’ bedding weekly. Tip: dedicate one pair of shoes for this task.
- Do not use eggs that are excessively dirty.
- Wash all eggs before they are put in the refrigerator. Tip: use a brush and water that is warmer than the egg.
- Always wash your hands before and after you interact with your hens! Salmonella, a bacteria that can make people sick, can spread from your hens and their eggs to you.
- Michigan State University (MSU) Extension has many hands-on opportunities for youth (5-19 yrs. old) to learn more about poultry through 4-H.
- Contact your local MSU Extension office to find out about programs in your area. Visit 4h.msue.msu.edu to explore opportunities, msue.anr.msu.edu/county to find your county office or call 888-678-3464.
- Sign-up for the MSU Extension Poultry Newsletter to get poultry-related news and events delivered right to your inbox. To subscribe, text “MSUE” to 22828 or visit msue.msu.edu and click on “Newsletter Sign-Up.”
- Small and Backyard Flock Resources: articles.extension.org/poultry
- Michigan State University Extension: 888-678-3464 msue.anr.msu.edu/topic/info/poultry msue.anr.msu.edu/program/info/4h_poultry
- Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development: 800-292-3939 www.michigan.gov/aviandiseases