Every farmer’s desire is to have chickens that lay big eggs, especially for commercial purposes. Larger eggs mean more profits and a heavier breakfast. However, that’s not always the case. When rearing chickens, you expect them to produce large eggs after you’ve fed and taken care of them. But what if they produce small-sized eggs?
Even though it may be disappointing, you must understand why your hens lay small eggs. Once you’ve understood the reasons, you can find ways to make the chicken produce larger eggs.
Table of Contents
- Reasons: Why do chickens lay small eggs?
- How to make your chicken produce larger eggs
- What size of an egg is considered to be small?
Reasons: Why do chickens lay small eggs?
They may not consistently produce medium or large eggs when rearing chickens, which is normal. However, small eggs should be rare in your flock. The reasons the chickens are laying small eggs may include:
Before hens lay their first egg, we refer to them as pullets. During their first days of laying eggs, their reproductive tracts are not fully matured. Therefore, they produce small eggs called pullet eggs. After consistent feeding, they grow and start laying medium-sized eggs.
Averagely, chickens start laying when six months old. Prolific layers such as Leghorns and Golden Comets may start laying in 16-18 weeks.
Old chickens easily fall sick. This can affect their productivity in several ways. Signs include unusual loose droppings. If that is the case, it is best to check and look for solutions to stop the condition.
2. Breed and genetics
Some chicken breeds are producers of large and jumbo eggs, while others produce small to medium-sized eggs. Some of the species that have jumbo and large eggs include:
- Golden Comets
- Lohmann Browns
If you rear bantam chickens, you should expect them to rear small eggs. Bantams are chickens that have small-sized bodies. Pure breeds lay nutrient-dense eggs, which are healthier but are smaller.
You can cross-breed two pure species to get a hybrid chicken to get healthy and bigger eggs. Hybrids, such as cross-breeding Rhode Island Red or Light Sussex, usually bring forth a healthier chicken that produces larger eggs.
The chicken’s genetics determines the size of the chicken’s skeletal, which directly impacts the egg size. Layers with a large skeletal will produce large jumbo eggs, while those small chickens will lay small eggs.
Nutrition is a major determining factor in how large or nutritious the chicken egg will be. If the layers lack adequate vitamins and minerals such as proteins, they tend to produce smaller eggs. More so, they must have a sufficient water supply since eggs are primarily made up of water. More so, if the layers lack crucial minerals like Calcium, they will lay soft-shelled eggs.
When chickens are stressed, they lay small eggs or fail to lay. These factors may be internal such as diseases or pain, or external such as extreme weather conditions.
Predators also make the hens uncomfortable, affecting egg production and egg size. More so, overcrowding chickens in one coop will lead to chicken stress as they fight for water, feeds, and nesting boxes.
5. Lighting programs
As we mentioned earlier, age is among the major factors that affect egg size. However, the lighting programs may affect the size by accelerating the laying process. If you provide the chickens with over 10 hours of lighting every day when they are less than ten weeks old, the light will trick them into starting laying eggs.
When these young chickens start laying eggs, they will be smaller than average since their bodies have not yet matured to produce large eggs.
How to make your chicken produce larger eggs
Though you cannot rectify some of the causes of small eggs, like the age of the chicken, you can still do the following to make your chickens produce larger eggs:
1. Reduce stress among the chickens
Always ensure that your chickens are stress-free by keeping their houses clean, well-ventilated, and free from ammonia gas dampness and chicken droppings.
Provide them with adequate water and feeds, and ensure they have sufficient space to roam to avoid fighting and pecking each other. Additionally, the coop should be free of predators and well-built to prevent the chickens from extreme weather conditions such as rain.
2. Altering with the lighting programs
Since providing more hours of light will make the chicken lay eggs when young, you can decrease the hours. Provide the chickens with less than 10 hours of light every day until they reach 19 weeks.
You can provide even less light daily after their 10th week to delay the chickens’ laying. Once they start laying, they will be fully matured and produce larger eggs.
3. Provide adequate feed
During the first ten weeks, your chickens should feed on protein-rich food to develop their skeletons. Next, provide them with growers’ mash until they turn 18 weeks, then feed them pellets.
After laying, provide 17-20% protein levels to increase the egg size. Also, provide treats, and oyster grit, and allow them to free range to get vitamins and minerals necessary for producing large and nutritious eggs.
4. Keep the chicken healthy
You should strive to have hybrid chickens since they rarely get sick. Besides, you should ensure that all chicks you buy are vaccinated and from credible sources. However, whether you have a pure breed or hybrid hens, they can get lice, mites, or other diseases.
You can check and treat your chickens for mites and lice every two months. Always ensure that the hens are healthy by having a vet check them regularly and advise keeping the flock healthy.
Having understood what makes your chicken lay small eggs, you can now focus on eliminating that problem. Use the methods we have discussed to make your chicken produce large eggs that are more nutritious and marketable.
Don’t forget to keep your chicken happy by letting them free-range and healthy by providing feeds with vitamins and minerals.
What size of an egg is considered to be small?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), eggs are classified into six categories depending on their weight per dozen (12 eggs). Here are the sizes and their respective minimum weights per dozen:
- Peewee eggs: the smallest eggs weighing 15 ounces
- Small eggs: 18 ounces
- Medium: 21 ounces
- Large: 24 ounces
- Extra-large: 27 ounces
- Jumbo: 30 ounces
Therefore, as per USDA standards, a small egg can be said to weigh 1.5 ounces or below. So, in this post, we shall use that standard when referring to a small egg.