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If you're thinking about keeping laying hens on your farm, then you may be wondering what the best diet for these hens would be. Laying mash is a type of feed specifically for laying hens formulated with nutrients to help them healthily lay more eggs. Compared to scratch feed, which is a grain-based chicken feed, laying mash provides more of the key nutrients used for egg production, such as protein and calcium.
Laying Mash Key Nutrients
Laying mash is a grain-based feed with ingredients such as bone, meat scrap and limestone that give hens extra vitamins and minerals. To produce eggs, hens need enough calcium, protein and minerals for their bones and body functions, and then enough excess nutrients to create the eggs. While the average protein in scratch feed is just 10 percent, laying mash is often between 15 and 20 percent protein.
Why Use Laying Mash
Laying mash has much more nutritional value than scratch feed and the extra nutrition increases the hen's egg production. Using scratch feed will likely decrease egg production because hens wont have enough calcium or protein to reach their laying potential.
Buying and Making Laying Mash
Laying mash can be bought pre-made from feed mills, and buying pre-made feed can ensure you that the mash is a well-balanced diet for laying hens. However, mixing your own laying mash tends to be cheaper. For 250 pounds of feed, mix 30 pounds of soybean meal, 30 pounds of alfalfa leaf meal into 150 pounds of mixed grains such as corn, wheat, barley or rye to get a diverse grain and protein mixture and provide hens with carbohydrates and other vitamins. Add 30 pounds of fish meal or meat scrap to give hens the extra protein they need. Three and a half pounds of dicalcium phosphate will give hens the calcium they need and six pounds of ground limestone will give hens minerals. Finally, mix in one and a fourth pounds of salt.
Storing Laying Mash
Chickens can be picky and will not eat feed that has gone bad. One way you can store your mash is by sealing it tightly in a large trash can. Make sure mash is stored in a dry, rat-free area to ensure it will not be compromised by moisture or rat contamination.
- West Virginia University; Poultry Facts; August 1995
- Info Ark; How To Formulate Your Own Chicken Feed; Joan Salmonowicz; October 1976
- Lions Grip; Chicken Feed: Feed Recipes, Rations, Formulas ~~ Modern and Traditional; June 2011
- Lions Grip; Chicken Feed: Feeding Instructions; June 2011
- Global Village Institute for Appropriate Technology; Raising Chickens; Johnny Mountain; September 2010
- Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images