A good laying chicken starts dropping eggs at about 18 weeks and extends to about 62 weeks; where there is constant and regular egg production. Egg production in chicken has 3 phases; each phase with unique characteristics and efficiency in production.
These phases are:
The first phase starts at about 18 weeks when the birds start laying and it ends at about 42 weeks. During this phase, there is a constant and regular lay of eggs; the frequency of egg production increases and reaches its peak. This phase is usually accompanied by an increase in egg size and body weight. This phase is presumed to be the most profitable phase of egg production of a laying chicken as egg production increases in quantity and quality.
Phase 2 marks the end of the first phase. It is characterized by a steady drop in egg production but not in egg size or body weight. The body weight may even show some increase due to the accumulation of body fat. This phase lasts until about 62 weeks when the production of prolific layers has dropped to about 65%.
Phase 3 is characterized by an obvious drop in egg production. The egg size does not decrease but the efficiency in the conversion of feed to egg declines. This phase terminates in the molting stage.
Phase 3 is the period when forced molting is done to extend the laying period of a chicken to about 90-100 weeks.
Usually, during this phase, farmers often sell–off the chickens as spent layers and stock new pullets to continue production. Instead of selling off these chickens due to the drop in their production, forced molting can be done to extend the laying period. This technique does not only extend the laying period, but it also helps increases the size of the egg with improved shell quality. Egg production is also increased even more than phase 1.
What is forced molting?
Molting is a natural process laying birds undergo; it is a process whereby laying birds change their old feathers with new ones. It is a process whereby all metabolic activities are centered on developing new plumage rather than production. Forced molting is a deliberate process or technique used to revive the productivity of the bird prior to or during the molting stage.
There are different methods of forced molting: use of drugs like progesterone and chlormadinone; nutritional manipulation method, involves changing the nutritional requirement of the chicken; fasting is another effective method. As the name implies, it is the deliberate withdrawal of feed and water for a certain period; it has several disadvantages, mostly high mortality.
The safest method of forced molting is the nutritional manipulation method and it is what you will learn in this article.
Several factors can warrant the adoption of forced molting; some of them are the cost of the procuring point of lay pullets, the quality of egg in demand, fear of delay or drop in quality of egg produced. Any of these factors may warrant a farm to adopt forced molting. The aim is chiefly to extend the laying period and also produce high-quality eggs that control good market price.
How to carry out layer molting program on laying chicken
It is very simple and cheap to carry out. You will need to give your laying chicken low-quality feed such as grains for about 3-4 weeks; this will put them off production for about 7-10days and they will gradually lose their feathers. This process is to rejuvenate their reproductive system and prepare them for a better laying period, with quality produce.
After 4 weeks, you will gradually introduce them to layers diet, that is, feed them with formulated layers diet. You will observe your birds will start to lay again after being off of production for about 5-6weeks. Egg production will grow higher than it was during the first phase of production. Large eggs with greatly improved shell quality are produced. Forced molting extends the period of egg laying till the next 90-100 weeks when the chickens will no longer produce.
At the end of 100 weeks of lay, your chickens control good price if you decide to sell them as spent layers. They will gain more weight. This practice can be adopted for several reasons. If you want an increased egg production or you want to fully utilize the productivity of your chicken, you can try it out.
Also, if the price of a point of lay pullets is high due to the current economic situation, you can adopt forced molting to salvage your production until when the price of the pullets becomes affordable. The role of forced molting in egg production is to maximize your profit and conversely to increase your productivity.
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