Hen WellbeingA balanced, high-quality diet is important for ensuring healthy laying hens.
Hens are fed a diet made up of many types of grains. In Eastern Canada, corn is typically the main grain used in hen feed because it is both abundant and a great source of energy. Other grains such as wheat, barley or oats can also be used and are more plentiful in Western Canada as the climate suits growing grains.
In addition to grains, ground soybeans or soybean meal are typically included in hen diets as an important protein source. Added calcium supplements contributes to strong bones in the hens as well as strong, quality eggshells. In most laying feeds, there are also small amounts of animal protein included to balance their diet. Like humans, hens are omnivorous and do better with a mix of veggies and meat. In addition to a high-quality diet, hens also need around-the-clock access to plenty of fresh, clean water.
What and how much a hen eats will depend on her age. Many farmers work together with a specialized poultry nutritionist to develop a feeding program to meet the nutritional needs of their hens. This diet will be changed as the hen ages.
Further specialization in hen diets
Just like we can choose certain foods for different benefits, hens can be fed food that enhance the nutritional content of their eggs or ensure they meet the standards for specialty products:Organic eggs come from hens that are fed an organically grown, multi-grain diet. These grains are grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers.
Omega 3 eggs come from hens that are fed multi-grain diets with added flaxseed. Feeding a hen flaxseed, which contains an abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids, modifies the fat in the yolk of her eggs to contain more of these good omega-3 fats, and less saturated fat and omega-6 fatty acids. Since these fatty acids are essential for our bodies, Omega 3 eggs are a nutritious, protein-packed, low-fat food that can increase our intake.
Lutein-enhanced eggs come from hens that are fed a multi-grain diet with corn added omega oils, marigold extract and additional vitamins. Lutein is an antioxidant important for eye health. It acts as a natural antioxidant supporting and protecting healthy cells and their functioning.
Did you know?The colour of an egg’s yolk will depend on the type of grain eaten by the hen. Hens fed mainly corn-based diets will lay eggs with darker yolks than hens fed mainly wheat-based diets. Despite the colour difference, there is no nutritional difference in the eggs.