I have 12 chickens, raised from day-old..
From an April 22nd hatch, 3 buff orps, and 3 araucanas
From a mid-June hatch, 3 isa Browns, and 3 more buff orps
I'll start by saying I work at a grain elevator/feed store and have for years. I have access to any kind of feed I could ever want for--and have any ingredient I would want to make my own. I know what they should be feed at the various stages and have done so.
We also are the ones who buy and distribute the chicks ordered from the hatchery.
I am able to ask return customers with the same "hatch mates" how their birds are doing and all that I have encountered all have happy, egg laying hens (we would be getting angry phone calls if they didn't)
At this point people with chicks from the mid June hatch are getting eggs too.
They are happy chickens that get a decent share of healthy treats in moderation, self raised mealworms, plenty of food and water.
Everyone gets along great.
They have lots of room and get lots of yard time---more so when they were younger---but I've refrained from that as much now that I haven't gotten eggs on the off chance they're laying outside, when honestly I don't think they have even started laying, no vent showing, only one lady has a nice big bright red comb----the others are starting to catch up..and that same one is the only that does 'the squat'
Yes I have tried pepper flakes.
At what point are they just a lost cause? I love my buffs but I can't house That many non laying hens indefinately.