TECHNICAL ARTICLES Broilers/Layers/Breeders

Laying down the Facts

Important facts to consider when evaluating laying records

Every egg farmer knows how important production percentages and feed conversions are. They can be seen as the backbone of any successful egg enterprise. However, evaluating those factors into useful parameters is not always as straightforward as it seems.

Our present economic situation and the demand for cheap protein make the egg industry a very profitable and exciting industry. We all know that this growing demand must be met, and for that reason virtually every egg farmer is now expanding.

In times like these, the stockman should interpret his production results with even greater care. Evaluating feeds with different densities and their worth is probably the most important factor in ensuring financial success.

What are these factors and how could the stockman determine them?

1. Average farm (hen-day) production

This is the number of eggs per hen housed. Smaller farmers use this as the only parameter to measure feed performance. Rumour has it that all laying feed is the same and that price is the only factor that differentiates them. What is a percentage or two between friends? My question to stockmen is: What is that percentage or two between friends worth? I will address this aspect later in this article.

2. Feed consumption

This is the average grams of feed per hen consumed per day. Most farmers measure this on a weekly basis and others do so monthly. Some do not even measure this at all. In addition to the hen-day production percentages, these two measurements make up very important calculations. Higher-density feeds will result in lower intakes. How much are those lower intakes worth in rand per ton of feed?

3. Feed required to produce a dozen eggs

The famous feed conversion (FC). In South Africa we mainly use this measurement to evaluate overall farm performance, although the amount of feed required to produce a kilogram of eggs is also a very important parameter. However, South Africa’s ranges in which each weight level is weighed differ too much to really use this as the measurement.

Weekly measurements are feasible only if farmers have scales that measure the weight each time feed is drawn into the laying house. Monthly measurements are more common among the majority of farmers.

This can therefore be used to measure the total feed cost per dozen of eggs, which is the most important. This is the profitability measurement. Thus, it is easy to determine the differences in feed cost between different density feeds or even feed companies. Both the stockman and the feed company should use this to evaluate their feed performance.

If feed of one density results in 5 cents more that the other, the stockmen and feed company should work this back to the feed cost per ton. Here is an example:

Thus, taking the above into account, that percentage or two and 5 grams per hen per day “between friends” is worth R100.65 per ton of feed.


Feeds with different densities only differ to the extent that the stockman wants them to differ. Taking more and more parameters into account refines the whole calculation and this would ensure more viable decision making. For more information on this feed model, phone Attie Venter on 082 779 8335.

Date published: 2007-01-03

Attie Venter