Are my hens laying??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by redonthehead, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. redonthehead

    redonthehead Out Of The Brooder

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    LOL! I just realized how dumb that sounds... ha ha! [​IMG]

    Here's the deal... I have approximately 33 hens, and 4 roosters. One rooster and 2 hens are just young (5-6 months old) and those hens may not be laying yet. So, I have about 31 hens who should be laying, but I'm only getting an average of 13 eggs per day. And it's really random numbers... yesterday I got 13 eggs, the day before I got 18 - the highest number I've ever gotten. One day earlier this month we only got 8! Here's what I'm wondering... would my hens be laying every couple of days, or is it possible that some are laying every day and others aren't laying at all? How can I tell if I have a hen who isn't producing at all? A couple of days ago we had a hen pass away (I believe old age!). Most of our hens are "second hand" so I don't know for sure how old they are, but some should be about 12-18 months old, and the others are 18months - 2 years old. I've been doing some research, and I believe some of my hens are getting "old" according to what I've been reading about shell defects etc.. but for the life of me I can't figure out which hens are laying and which aren't. [​IMG] The ironic thing about it all is that the hen who passed away was one of our regular layers (one of the few that I've figured out!).

    Thanks for your help! I'm new to this and learning a rediculous amount of information from you wonderful people!


    Jane [​IMG]
     
  2. Robin'sBrood

    Robin'sBrood Flock Mistress

    May 8, 2008
    North Carolina
    Other than standing by the nest boxes and watching, or putting up a camera to capture all the goings on, I don't know how you could possibly know which hens are laying, and at what frequency the layers are laying. [​IMG]

    Some of my girls lay more often than others. I've only got a dozen hens and there is no way I could keep up with who is laying what, and when... except for my EE, since her eggs' color gives her away.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2010
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    This is the best I've found to help answer your question about which ones are laying.

    Pigmentation to Evaluate Laying
    http://www.ca.uky.edu/smallflocks/Factsheets/Evaluating_egg_laying_hens.pdf

    I butcher my chickens and have found that even chickens that are laying regularly can have a pretty big "fat pad" as described in the link. I'd consider that an indication, not a specific hard and fast rule.

    Some hens lay practically every day while other lay sporaticallly. A lot if different things can factor into that.

    As far as age, averages do not mean anything to an individual hen. Each is an individual and may or may not do what others do. However, if you have enough hens for averages to mean anything, averages are a good indication of what to expect. With all that said, on average, a flock drops egg production by about 15% after each adult molt, except after the first full adult molt. Usually a pullet will not go through a full adult molt her first winter. Sometimes they do but not usually. The first fully adult molt is usually when they are about 1-1/2 years old. After the first adult molt, the eggs get bigger, the quality usually improves (fewer weird pullet eggs), and the frequency of lay usually improves. Commercial laying operations force an early adult molt to improve the quality of the eggs. They get more money for large eggs. After they molt the following year, the eggs will again likely get a tiny bit bigger but, on average, the flock will lay about 15% fewer eggs each day. After the next molt, again 15% fewer.
     
  4. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    November is the poorest laying month for older hens. They are molting and the days are getting shorter. A lot of people give their older hens some slack this time of year. I'm looking forward to February when production should be rocking and rolling! [​IMG]

    If you REALLY want to know a 100% accurate way to know whether a hen's laying, check out this link (post #39): https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=420256&p=4
     
  5. thebirdguy

    thebirdguy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hens are all different... you will have some that lay 300+ eggs a year for years and some that never even come close.... The nice thing about a bigger flock is that you tend to average out a little bit and can count on a minimum number of eggs every day... :) good reason to have more birds [​IMG]

    If egg production vs feed costs is important to you, you can cull the non layers by checking out the width of the bones below their vent.. In adult (not pullet) hens that are laying, you should be able to feel a gap 3 fingers wide.. If it is only 1 finger wide... not laying
     
  6. mulewagon

    mulewagon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Alabama
    According to the books, hens lay about two days out of three. And all sorts of things can disturb their rhythm. So it's not unusual to get widely varying numbers of eggs!

    Be sure to search the whole area carefully. I thought mine were late starting, but it turns out they were all laying in the one little corner I couldn't see into (or get to very easily!) We had to excavate the big pile of eggs, and block the hideout. Then they decided they might as well try the nestboxes [​IMG]
     
  7. redonthehead

    redonthehead Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for all the information! So it's likely that most of my hens are laying regularly, they're just laying every few days. I'm totally fine with the production I'm getting right now... I just wanted to make sure I don't have any freeloaders... [​IMG] LOL! Actually, probably 1/3 of the chickens I have have been adopted as "pets" by either me or my kids and will be with us until they die regardless of whether or not they're laying. [​IMG] I had no idea when I reluctantly agreed to getting chickens that I would turn into such a fan of them. [​IMG]
     

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