Originally Posted by MNBobcat
Originally Posted by donrae
First, I would want to know why she wasn't laying. If there was a reasonable expectation for her to start laying again, I would probably keep her. It's a balance between feeding an adult non-layer while she's taking a break, and feeding a chick for 6 months until she's old enough to lay. It's totally up to you which you want to do.
If you're solely interested in production, by all means sell or butcher the hens. Then purchase some point of lay pullets. keep them for a year, when they molt sell or butcher them and buy some more point of lay pullets. I doubt it will be the most cost effective method, but you'll sure have birds that churn out eggs to your expectations.
Thanks Donrae, some good info there. We're getting 9 eggs a day from 12 hens and are very happy with that. We got the birds for free from someone my daughter worked with. Next spring they will be starting their 3rd year. I'm assuming we'll probably be needing to order chicks next spring which isn't a bad thing as it would give us a chance to also decide on what breed of hens we would like to keep. Meanwhile, I'm trying to learn as much as I can as I've not had chickens before. I added a second roost to the coop because only 2 birds were using the roost. Now all but 3 or 4 use the roosts and the others roost in the nest box. I also added a screen door to the coop so that they can get some ventilation. The coop we got from the lady didn't have any windows that would open. Hopefully this summer I can build an entirely new coop of a better design.
Regarding the egg laying, I think if I find I have a bird or two not laying I would give it a month or two to try and see what I could do to get them to lay and if not successful then I would butcher them. Right now I'm trying to figure out what hen is plucking the feathers out of our black chickens. She doesn't seem to bother the other chickens that aren't black. Been spraying bluekote on the ones that are bloody and missing feathers. Dusted the whole coop with DE, too. But I read that a heavy coat of vaseline might work to stop the other bird from plucking their feathers.
It may take you a few years to figure out how you want to rotate your stock to meet whatever goals you have.
I rotate my old birds out every fall (at 2.5 years old) and hatch new chicks every early spring so I have pullets to lay thru every winter with lights going.......
......that's the short version of my flock management.
Feather picking can be caused by several things....crowding from not enough space for number of birds, insufficient protein in feed(s), or in the end maybe just bully birds.
If you have bloody birds, you need to address the cause of the pecking asap, and separate the bloody birds if at all possible...
.......blukote might help, vaseline and DE is not likely going to solve the problem.
First year of chicken keeping can be overwhelming, like getting a sip of water out of firehose...lots to learn.
Just keep reading, evaluating advice given(ignore what doesn't help-acknowledge what does), and trying various things until you find what works in your situation.
Bet of cLuck to yas!