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Looking for advice on efficient flock control to get the most eggs

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hello, I cant seem to wrap my head around this question and come up with the right answer..

I am a country girl at heart, stuck in the suburbs. I can have a max of 10 chickens. I currently have 8 12-month old hens and 2 2-week old pullets. I have no opposition to using my hens as food after their laying slows down (few years right?) I enjoy having chickens, but we have them for the eggs, not as pets.

What is the most efficient timeline for me to have, to maximize year around egg production with max 10 birds? Do I, in a year or two, process half of my older hens, and start raising 5 more chicks? And so on every year? Do i do this in May, so I have eggs over the winter? Does my question make sense?
post #2 of 9
Feeding fermented feed will save you money on feed. Using artificial lighting will keep your hens laying year 'round. Hatchery quality hens will lay at peak production through two laying seasons. Then they can be replaced with younger pullets.
post #3 of 9
Chickens are generally most productive for 2 years after they lay their fist egg, this 2 year laying period is when most commercial farms rotate out for new ones... They will lay eggs for longer but that is the most productive period..

If you get chicks about 24 weeks before you retire your existing layers egg production should remain fairly steady...

If you stagger your rotation so that you are adding 50% replacement chicks every spring, that new batch will generally skip molt and continue to lay all winter while the older ones molt...

To maximize laying you will need to supplement lighting during the short winter days, as they need about 14-16 hours of light per egg produced...

And ideally if you really want to maximize egg production the chickens do best in a climate controlled environment in the mid 70°s, but that is not real practical for most hobbyist...
Edited by MeepBeep - 3/14/16 at 3:10pm
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the info. Are there disadvantages, in your opinion, to artificial lighting in the winter? I do hear some controversy, re: the hens "deseeving a break". But in reality, are they unhappy or less healthy if light is used? I hadnt even thouht of that option for some reason, only thought of "staggering", was just confused on the logistics of the staggering i guess!
post #5 of 9
You will get a lot of different opinions on this subject. I have used lights on hens for several years. My hens were considered livestock when I had them. They needed to produce as many eggs as possible on the least amount of feed. Very seldom did I have any hens get ill. I kept them wormed, fed them fermented feed and put the lights on a timer.

I never worried about them being happy or unhappy. They got used to the routine and laid eggs. I was happy!
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennifer0224 View Post

Are there disadvantages, in your opinion, to artificial lighting in the winter?

I believe there is little doubt that increased egg production is harder on the chickens body, but if your goal is egg production and rotating out after their prime that is not necessarily a disadvantage...

Also chickens are born with only so many eggs, they will extinguish those eggs in a shorter period if they lay more annually, but again if production is the goal and you are going to rotate out well before they run out of eggs that is not necessarily a disadvantage either...

In the end I don't believe you will find any huge negative health concerns when providing supplemental lighting, only you can decide if they are to be treated as 'pets' or 'livestock' or somewhere in between...
post #7 of 9

What I try for, but I will be the first to admit, I am just coming off a pretty long dry spell, so take what I say with a grain of salt. And remember the best laid plans (pun intended) well, don't always go as planned. The theory that I am reaching for is to have 3 pullets, 3 going on a year, and 3 that are starting their 2nd year and one more - where ever that bird fits. 

 

But with the best of plans, I never quite seem to get there, although after 9 years, I am getting closer.  I have 10 birds as of now in the flock, but that is not a constant number through out the year. I currently have 1 hen who is going on 4 (and she has raised so many chicks, she gets to stay) 3 that are going on 2 years, 2 that are 18 months, and 3 pullets that just started to lay. And the roo. I have been getting pretty steady 5 eggs a day, today 6. Pretty sure Butter is not laying, but hey, she stays. So two others are not laying, and I need to find out who pretty soon.

 

Last summer I hatched out 11 chicks and got 3 pullets! I mean really, but that is how it goes. One makes up these plans, and the wrong sex hatches, or the wrong birds die or get ate by a predator, so exasperating, and the ones that get ate, they are ALWAYS the ones you like best! ugh!

 

I am a lazy hatcher, so I will wait for a broody hen. I don't add light, so up here I almost always get a broody hen in June, sometimes late May, sometimes early July. So what happens is the pullets don't begin to lay before the dark days of winter, and often times won't start until the end of January, which is what happened this year, July 4th and July 27 is when I set eggs, too late for optimum production.

 

So in addition to adding light, you want your new birds hatched early so that they are laying by September, these birds should lay through the dark days of winter, but their eggs will be small. 

 

The real way to have eggs all year round, is to freeze them, when you have a bunch. I mix up 12 eggs at a time, and freeze them in 12 muffin tins, then pop them out and bag them. When I am baking in the winter, I use these eggs, or if I have my whole crew come home. Scrambled no one can tell. In years past, I have had bird lay intermittently through the winter, and with frozen eggs, did not have to buy eggs. This year in November, I moved in a new coup, not sure if that was enough, but no one laid for a long time.

 

My finale point, one can plan and plan, and things happen, good luck

Mrs K


Edited by Mrs. K - 3/14/16 at 7:04pm
Western South Dakota Rancher
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Western South Dakota Rancher
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post #8 of 9

Here we go again.  Hens have a finite number of eggs, but just like many animals & us most are never going to just "run" out.  My chickens molt or "rest"  every year with the lights on all winter. My hens are perfectly content winter & summer.  

post #9 of 9

I use lighting and replace layers every year.

Lighting results have varied, but this last winter(my 3rd) all the yearlings(~18 months old) molted, and stopped laying, except one production bird.

But I think they started back up a bit sooner than they would have without the lights.

All the pullets laid all winter with the lights.

How and when you apply the light can make difference too....not an exact science for BYCer's.

 

After 2 1/2 years now keeping chickens, I am planning on replacing 1/3 of the flock every year....

......it is hard to wrap your head around, I think it's the 6 months chick to POL period that throws it off somewhat.

 

My capacity is about 15-18 birds over winter...so I'll hatch out a bunch in spring keep the best 5-6 for my pullet group over winter and sell or butcher 5-6 of the older girls in fall after the pullets start laying. Will sell or butcher the extra cockerels(I only keep one cock/erel) and extra pullets too.

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
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