HOMEGROWN

Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

I have had laying chickens for, I think, 3 years now...maybe 4. This
year I got more day old chicks in early April for laying hens and meat
birds (which I have butchered in June). My question is this. My egg
production has really dropped off and I can't see that the new hens have
begun laying yet. I guess I can take each old hen one by one to a
separate location to see if they lay for a week or so. How long do hens
keep laying? At the beginning of the summer they were laying fine. It
had been overly hot in the NE this summer and I attributed it to that
but now it's Sept. and that's not the case now. They have 16% layers
feed and I had been mixing it with cracked corn because they like it but
now it's just feed. I was thinking maybe if I just give them feed that would do the trick.  No.  I can't let them free range due to neighboring dogs
on our road. We learned that the hard way. Lost 19 chickens a few yrs
back. Shouldn't the young chickens be laying by now? I do have a couple
extra roosters that I have to dispatch. That may have something to do
with it but I just don't know. Thanks for any help.

Tags: egg, hens, laying, low, production

Views: 228

Replies to This Discussion

Your young layers should start producing in October or so (about 6 months). The older layers may be starting to molt -- they will show signs of molt. Usually hens will molt around 18 months or so.

The other large influence outside of feed change or weather is the seasonal adjustment to sunlight. Our hens have to keep 12-13 hours of daylight and they're already receiving supplemental lighting in the evening. We use a timer on a small light and adjust the timer every so often so they continue with 12 hours. Using artificial light can keep layers in production longer. As well, If you want to "manage" your layers and the molt, you can artificially stimulate the molt with light.

You can readily check your hens for production by checking their vent (large and moist). Also, their combs and wattles are red and large (healthy looking). Not sure of the breeds you have but high producers tend to lay longer. If you want to find out, examine the older hens because that will eliminate 'guesswork'.

Hope this helps!
Some Questions:
1. Do you allow them outside the coop at all during the winter?
2. Do you have ventilation besides the door and window you mention?

Because:
1. 10X8 is not very roomy if you have 20 chickens and they don't have any other access (outside or free range) to move around. It's actually pretty cramped. Cramped living can lead to pecking and other issues. Especially if they can't leave this situation for an outdoor area during the day. This might also effect egg laying.
2. Especially indoors, and if they are indoors all the time, they need good ventilation. Otherwise you're looking at respiratory problems.

If I were in your situation, I might keep a lamp on during the day, assuming that your chickens are mostly or completely indoors all day, so that they get some sort of light in the winter. I personally would set it to be close to the actual daylight hours, and not over, but that's your choice.
I think I would also include a heat source. I have heard that warm hens are laying hens. :) I've also heard that warm oatmeal can help hens stay warm enough to keep up with egg production. I've not tried it, but it came from an old timer who knew her chickens. :)

Nancy said:
I have had a light on during the winter because my thinking was that I wanted a fairly steady egg production. NOW, I am thinking maybe not. Maybe I'll just let nature take it's course and let them be. I ask you this now. In the winter I will keep them in all the time because their door faces west and all the wind blows right into their coop so I close it. Their window faces north- same thing. I live in NY. Quite bitter and windy where the barn is. Their coop is quite roomy. The light really gives off no heat per say and I hadn't put a heat lamp in there for them but have a water heater. Do any of you believe I should put a heat lamp in there for them? The coop is approx 10' x 8' and 7' tall. I have, I think, 20 chickens. Hard to count them when they move around! They seem to have done well so far but perhaps they would need less food if I kept them warmer. Hmm?
Nancy, when the temp drops below freezing, water will also freeze. How do you keep the water available/flowing for the chickens to drink??

Also, with freezing temps, a hen's comb can actually get frostbite, very dangerous not to mention painful for a chicken to endure. If your area is typically below freezing in the Winter, not just bouncing up and down a degree or to, provide protection to your chickens to ward off the evils of freezing weather.

We are in Virginia but we still watch for below freezing weather. We use a red heat lamp set up like we do with our meat chicks (they are susceptible to cold when peeps). With winter temps below freezing, that same lamp and light are used (a brooder lamp) are used. We don't use the heat lamp all the time, but if night temps are to drop below 32, we will leave the light on at night in the coop. The red light makes the coop glow and it's lovely. lol Needless to say, around here we listen to and watch the local weather. Using a heat lamp with the water supply kept nearby will keep the water from freezing too. (Just make sure there is no issue with water and electricity!)

During the day if you let your chickens out of the coop, make sure they're not exposed to freezing temps if/when sleeting because this can create problems if a chicken is able to roost outside and the feet freeze on a tree branch. Many years ago this happened to one of our roosters and I had to get warm water from the house to pour over the feet so he could be taken off of his outdoor roosting branch. Thankfully he did not suffer any problems from that and there was no frostbite.

BTW, chickens do consume more feed when they are stressed from cold but I don't know the stats on feed consumption. Give the Backyardchickens.com Forum a try, too, Nancy -- lots of experienced chicken lovers there with many years of experience in general care, breeding, disease, etc.
This is why I keep them in during the winter. There is enough air flow through their coop. It's not so wrapped tight. The window is closed off but not sealed so air does flow through a bit. This is why I cannot keep the coop door open. All the heat they generate would be lost completely. I do go in and clean their coop often through the winter and they have a water heater. they have gone through a few winters ok so far but I think I am going to put a heater with a red light in it this yr and see how they do. I have read to put it on a timer. During the night it is colder. Light on at night or during the day? Different intervals. I haven't figured that out. You know, I didn't think I was doing so bad until I got on this site! I have talked to a friend of mine to try and hand off my excess roosters to. Hopefully that will pan out because I hate to dispatch of animals if I don't have to. My family thinks I just have no heart and enjoy that sort of thing. I just know what is best for the flock and they are getting a bit too emotional. I really like them!
thank you for your info. Very helpful!

Lynn Shaw said:
Nancy, when the temp drops below freezing, water will also freeze. How do you keep the water available/flowing for the chickens to drink??

Also, with freezing temps, a hen's comb can actually get frostbite, very dangerous not to mention painful for a chicken to endure. If your area is typically below freezing in the Winter, not just bouncing up and down a degree or to, provide protection to your chickens to ward off the evils of freezing weather.

We are in Virginia but we still watch for below freezing weather. We use a red heat lamp set up like we do with our meat chicks (they are susceptible to cold when peeps). With winter temps below freezing, that same lamp and light are used (a brooder lamp) are used. We don't use the heat lamp all the time, but if night temps are to drop below 32, we will leave the light on at night in the coop. The red light makes the coop glow and it's lovely. lol Needless to say, around here we listen to and watch the local weather. Using a heat lamp with the water supply kept nearby will keep the water from freezing too. (Just make sure there is no issue with water and electricity!)

During the day if you let your chickens out of the coop, make sure they're not exposed to freezing temps if/when sleeting because this can create problems if a chicken is able to roost outside and the feet freeze on a tree branch. Many years ago this happened to one of our roosters and I had to get warm water from the house to pour over the feet so he could be taken off of his outdoor roosting branch. Thankfully he did not suffer any problems from that and there was no frostbite.

BTW, chickens do consume more feed when they are stressed from cold but I don't know the stats on feed consumption. Give the Backyardchickens.com Forum a try, too, Nancy -- lots of experienced chicken lovers there with many years of experience in general care, breeding, disease, etc.
Nancy, the chickens will be alert and more active during the day so I would use the heat lamp at night (it's often colder during the night anyway). If the temps get really cold, you can keep that heat lamp on during the day, too -- we have when the weather was extreme at times. We spent 4 1/2 days totally off-grid without power during last Winter's blizzard and were so worried the hens would get frostbite but we watched them very closely and monitored the temps knowing the snowpack was actually helping to insulate the bottom portion of their coop. Had the temp dropped into the upper 20s, we had decided that they'd spend a night in our basement caged in. Thankfully we didn't have to go that route!! lol

Most coops have ventilation and aren't air tight -- that's a good thing and in your case it works to your flock's benefit. There have been inclement days where we've not let our hens out during the day and I know it's a more boring day for them, but it's to protect them.

We try to keep it as simple as possible around here so we supply some supplemental lighting when the daylight wanes. We simply set the timer at night so the light goes on at nightfall and we increase the timer as the season progresses.

I sure do understand about that bleeding-heart mindset. People think meat comes from styrofoam packages at the store. lol I was once called a 'murderer' because I saw a caterpillar crawling and picked it up, tossed it to the hens.

You're doing fine so keep it up!!
Thanks so much for the uplift. I had to work yesterday but fixed one of my hens for supper for the family. My daughter wouldn't eat it, of course, but everyone else thought it was delicious. Amazing! I think I will get some of the tidbits of leftovers for lunch today.

Lynn Shaw said:
Nancy, the chickens will be alert and more active during the day so I would use the heat lamp at night (it's often colder during the night anyway). If the temps get really cold, you can keep that heat lamp on during the day, too -- we have when the weather was extreme at times. We spent 4 1/2 days totally off-grid without power during last Winter's blizzard and were so worried the hens would get frostbite but we watched them very closely and monitored the temps knowing the snowpack was actually helping to insulate the bottom portion of their coop. Had the temp dropped into the upper 20s, we had decided that they'd spend a night in our basement caged in. Thankfully we didn't have to go that route!! lol

Most coops have ventilation and aren't air tight -- that's a good thing and in your case it works to your flock's benefit. There have been inclement days where we've not let our hens out during the day and I know it's a more boring day for them, but it's to protect them.

We try to keep it as simple as possible around here so we supply some supplemental lighting when the daylight wanes. We simply set the timer at night so the light goes on at nightfall and we increase the timer as the season progresses.

I sure do understand about that bleeding-heart mindset. People think meat comes from styrofoam packages at the store. lol I was once called a 'murderer' because I saw a caterpillar crawling and picked it up, tossed it to the hens.

You're doing fine so keep it up!!

RSS

Badge

Loading…

Join us on:

Videos

  • Add Videos
  • View All

© 2014   Created by HOMEGROWN.org.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

Community Philosphy Blog and Library