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How to tell which hens are laying well?

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 

I have 23 free-range hens. I'd like to know, for flock management and breeding purposes, which hen lays which egg and how many they're laying each week. I'm out of ideas on how to accomplish this. I've thought of a video camera, but I'd have to watch hours upon hours of video for several days. I've also thought about putting a hen or two into a crate in the coop for a couple of days to see what I get, but I'm afraid that I'll stress them out so much that they'll be off their normal behavior.

Has anyone else with larger numbers of free-range hens figured this out? It's only going to get worse when we double our numbers this spring.

Thanks so much.

The chickens are sold! We sold off 150 roosters, hens, cockerels, and pullets and are down to SIX birds. Three ISA Brown, one Amberlink, one blue copper Marans, and one blue Ameraucana rooster. Everything looks so empty out there, but I'm happy with the decision. No more washing, sorting, packing and delivering 30 dozen eggs every week, WOOT!
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The chickens are sold! We sold off 150 roosters, hens, cockerels, and pullets and are down to SIX birds. Three ISA Brown, one Amberlink, one blue copper Marans, and one blue Ameraucana rooster. Everything looks so empty out there, but I'm happy with the decision. No more washing, sorting, packing and delivering 30 dozen eggs every week, WOOT!
Reply
post #2 of 40

I think the closest you`ll get to your goal, besides the hours and hours concept is to determine which hens are actually laying. This isn`t gonna tell you how many eggs or how pretty they are, but the method for determining a laying hen is simple. Pick them off the roost at night one by one. Over the vent are 2 pelvic bones. On a large hen, 3 fingers should be able to fit between those bones on a laying hen. If you can only fit 2 fingers, the hen is not laying. On a bantam, you have to consider the size of the hen and egg.

In God We Trust

Siyah Rampuri Asil, White Chinese, Emden, and African Geese, Guineas, a Rottweiler (Bella), and a Yellow Lab (Booger). Fifty five years with chickens and still learning.

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In God We Trust

Siyah Rampuri Asil, White Chinese, Emden, and African Geese, Guineas, a Rottweiler (Bella), and a Yellow Lab (Booger). Fifty five years with chickens and still learning.

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post #3 of 40

In my encyclopedia of country living book there are plans for nest boxes with one way doors.  Whenever you want to know who is laying and who isn't you put the doors on and see who's stuck in the nest boxes the next day.  If you have a large flock and really want to keep egg production up you would then cull all the ones that are never in the nest boxes.  You could probably band them with certain colors when you remove them from a box so that you could repeat it for several days and see who never goes in the box and who is in there the most.  This doesn't for certain tell you who is laying since some may go in a box and not lay.  Also some will lay outside while free ranging but if you were really looking at getting as many eggs as possible you would want to remove those birds anyway since they make it difficult to collect the eggs.

post #4 of 40
Thread Starter 

The one-way door thing is an idea. Of course, I don't have one box per hen. I know that they were all laying this summer, as I'd often get one egg per bird. This winter is another story! We're down to 11/day if we're lucky!

I promise I won't cull anyone who isn't laying just because it's winter (yet). I really want to cull some of my layers that are consistently giving me small eggs. We weigh eggs and have to sell the smalls off cheap. Also, we're moving into breeding our own replacements for a closed flock and I of course only want to breed the best layers with the nicest large eggs.

What do folks think about putting something in the nest boxes that would get on feet/feathers? Could something like that help?

eta: Of course, our EEs are the easiest. 3 EEs, 3 eggs every two days, even this winter. Those girls rock!


Edited by WalkingOnSunshine - 2/18/09 at 12:17pm
The chickens are sold! We sold off 150 roosters, hens, cockerels, and pullets and are down to SIX birds. Three ISA Brown, one Amberlink, one blue copper Marans, and one blue Ameraucana rooster. Everything looks so empty out there, but I'm happy with the decision. No more washing, sorting, packing and delivering 30 dozen eggs every week, WOOT!
Reply
The chickens are sold! We sold off 150 roosters, hens, cockerels, and pullets and are down to SIX birds. Three ISA Brown, one Amberlink, one blue copper Marans, and one blue Ameraucana rooster. Everything looks so empty out there, but I'm happy with the decision. No more washing, sorting, packing and delivering 30 dozen eggs every week, WOOT!
Reply
post #5 of 40

keeping track of "free-range" is pretty tough...do you have a nest?

you could tell alittle if you have a nest and some leg banding for I.D. --- the bird should return to the same nest...to lay the egg...if they are using the same nest...then you get floor eggs...I like the advice that Lollipop gave to you...also, putting them in a crate should not stress the hen...dont worry, even if you hear her cluck...just water and feed... leave her in there until you get an egg then let her out...at night, find her again and put her back in the crate...don't be surprised if you get an egg every other day...with the I.D. you will be able to know which does lay an egg and which doesn't

post #6 of 40

I don't think this would work for you since yours is free range, but my great-great aunt always told me to take you fist and if it would fit between your hens legs that means they are good layers. Not sure if it is true or not but she went by that. I hope that helps.

post #7 of 40

It's easy. Say you have 10 hens & you are getting 7 eggs a day.
On day 1 pick a hen & butcher her. The next day if you still get 7 eggs she wasn't laying-if you only get 6 eggs she was.
Day 2 repeat & continue until you either have no hens or are getting no eggs.
Wait, I just thought of a downside to this method. big_smile

post #8 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lollipop 

I think the closest you`ll get to your goal, besides the hours and hours concept is to determine which hens are actually laying. This isn`t gonna tell you how many eggs or how pretty they are, but the method for determining a laying hen is simple. Pick them off the roost at night one by one. Over the vent are 2 pelvic bones. On a large hen, 3 fingers should be able to fit between those bones on a laying hen. If you can only fit 2 fingers, the hen is not laying. On a bantam, you have to consider the size of the hen and egg.


Cool That is why I like BYC so much. You learn something new all the time.You can check Pigeons like that to see if they are male or female. Male pelvic bones almost together. Female pelvic bones 1 finger should be able to fit between those bones.

post #9 of 40

I use the what I call the rooster method. If her feathers are rough or gone on her back that means the rooster is doing his job and she is laying.  He will only mate with a laying hen. Also if the hen is  all feathered and looks really good. I don't think she is doing her job.

post #10 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by NYREDS 

It's easy. Say you have 10 hens & you are getting 7 eggs a day.
On day 1 pick a hen & butcher her. The next day if you still get 7 eggs she wasn't laying-if you only get 6 eggs she was.
Day 2 repeat & continue until you either have no hens or are getting no eggs.
Wait, I just thought of a downside to this method. big_smile


yuckyuck

gckiddhouse
"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." -- Thomas Jefferson
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gckiddhouse
"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." -- Thomas Jefferson
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