I am part of different homesteading groups on social media, and every once in a while a post will come by: “I fed my chickens yogurt and they went from laying 5-6 eggs a day to laying 16 eggs a day!” Along with the post you see a picture of a lot of eggs, and it almost seems to good to be true, because it is.
Feeding chickens yogurt will not increase their egg production. Fact is, most chickens lay 250-300 eggs a year (depending on the breed), and how often they lay an egg depends on their genetic background. A hybrid chicken, bred for laying eggs will lay 300 eggs a year, a silkie quite a few less. You can not change this by feeding them yogurt.
It takes a chicken 24-26 hours to go through the whole process of laying an egg, of which about 20 hours are taken up by building the shell. There is no way to speed up this process, it’s determined by the anatomy of the chicken. Of course it depends on outside factors like food and water and daylight. If these are not sufficient the laying will be delayed, but it can not be sped up.
I know chickens love yogurt, and it is a great source of probiotics, but too much yogurt can actually make a chicken sick. So your best bet would be to just give your chickens probiotics (if you feel that is necessary) instead of yogurt. Chickens can not digest milk sugars (lactose), and feeding them large amounts of milk products will cause diarrhea or worse.
Now, you might say: but my great uncle’s counsin’s neighbor’s wife fed yogurt to her chickens and it worked, they started laying more, and they did not get sick! I am happy for your great uncle’s counsin’s neighbor’s wife, but she might have to adjust her overall feeding if yogurt results in increased egg production. What chickens need are sufficient nutrients from feed suitable for their species.
Lise Steele from Fresh Eggs Daily wrote a great post on what NOT to feed chickens, make sure you check that out! And don’t believe everything you read on the internet 😉