Artificial lighting increasing eggs & how do I know when to 'cull?'

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by T-Amy, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. T-Amy

    T-Amy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 16, 2011
    Woodhull, NY
    Good news! Out of 20 hens, we were getting 2-3 eggs a day toward the end of summer & ready to start lopping off some heads given I don't need 20 more 'pets.' Don't get me wrong, I love having chickens, but it's expensive to feed them when we're getting nothing out of them. I live in upstate NY & this was my first fall/winter with the ladies. The molt started & they seemed to be on strike. So, after much research, I decided I needed better ROI so we added some lighting (on at 4AM-10AM then from 4-5PM). Within 1-2 weeks the production increased & today we got 8 eggs so far.

    I'd love to get a 'nanny' cam in the coop to see who's laying- I know there's a way to feel the birds but mine aren't that appreciative of being held (when we got them they were 6-8 mos & not accustomed to being held).

    Given mine are anywhere from 1-2 yrs old, how do I know, unless I 'see' them in the nesting box, which ones are done laying? And I can't eat my girls so wondering what people do with them when they cull or get rid of them? We have a lot of local Amish folks & I think farm auctions that I guess I can 'sell' them but what is the normal cycle or protocol I should follow?
     
  2. johnsons-r-us

    johnsons-r-us Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 18, 2011
    Eudora, Kansas
    If they are in molt they would stop or greatly slow laying. Lighting is a good idea but would still not overcome the molt. It seems like 1-2 years old they would still have a good amount of laying to do. Many people here use Craigs List to sell/give their chickens. Or could you find a processor and keep some of the meat, then get some new chicks to replace those? Guess it depends on your goals...... [​IMG]
     
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    As for getting rid of hens, yes, a local sale is a place to get rid of them. Just be prepared for a rather low price as folks only pay so much for an older hen.

    You can use blue cote. Spray the vent of a hen and see if she lays. Give her two days. Get a blue streaked egg, you know it was her. Work your way down the flock. Some, I'm sure, you know lay well as you've seen them in the box and know they've left an egg. It would only take a couple of weeks to work your way through the flock. You'll have to write a detailed description or leg band them somehow note who's who. You could also grab a chair and head out to the coop at 5:30 am and "chart" those who enter the next and those who do not. Similar to scoring a baseball game. This would also speed up the process.

    Some folks even use different color lipsticks, which gives rise to whole host of humorous remarks. Some use trapping nests, but that's pretty elaborate for what you want to know.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2011
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Agree that it is a bit unfair to "chart" a hen that is moult. That effectively shuts down laying. Other breeds simply don't lay well in the winter.
    When I cull, it is during a season when the hens should be laying. This time of year is rather difficult to make sounds judgement about the longer range laying ability of any hen. All you'll find out now is who is presently laying.
     
  5. 2hot2chicken

    2hot2chicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 15, 2011
    Beaverton
    Fred's Hens :

    Agree that it is a bit unfair to "chart" a hen that is moult. That effectively shuts down laying. Other breeds simply don't lay well in the winter.
    When I cull, it is during a season when the hens should be laying. This time of year is rather difficult to make sounds judgement about the longer range laying ability of any hen. All you'll find out now is who is presently laying.

    I 2nd this. You should wait until spring when they would be activly laying before judging them. I have a silkie hen that is 2 years old now and she lays almost daily. This is rare for a silkie to lay daily in winter no less but she does it and at 2yrs old so I think for most breeds of chickens they lay pretty well up until 3-4 years old. For egg productions breeds anyway.

    There are several other things you need to take into consideration, like your feeding regiment, time of year and the fact that they are moulting. I was out of town for a day and mine tiped over their water container in the coop and fouled up theirs in their run by stratching a bunch of sand into it. They went on stike and did not lay for me, I got 1 egg instead of the usual 5. I don't know if this had to do with them going all day without water or what? but the next day 5 eggs....

    If they are moulting you could increase their protein levels to help them finish faster. This is what was recommended to me when mine were molting and worked very well. They finished moulting within a couple weeks at most. You could feed things like:
    Eggs
    Dry cat food
    Wet dog or cat food
    Meat scraps
    Different feed ( I switched my chickens all to a game bird food, It has a slightly higher protein level with all the other same ingredients in pretty close to the same proportions as regular crumble feed.)

    I now perminantly changed my girls diet to a mix of
    game bird pellets 50lb bag
    organic broiler mix 25lb bag
    milled wheat 10lb bag

    They seem to be doing amazing on this combo and when my pullets from this summer started moulting they were done in a couple weeks total!
    All my birds are a very healthy wait and continuing to lay daily (including silkies) even though its winter and temps here have been down to the 30's and not higher than low 50's for a while now. I do not have any supplimental light at all in my coop.

    If you are really looking to get rid of some chickens the venues suggested work great tho.​
     
  6. T-Amy

    T-Amy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 16, 2011
    Woodhull, NY
    Lots of great ideas & I love hearing what works for others. So far, we've been excited about the results from supplementing their light to add a few hours a day. The LOVE anything different than their normal feed- I've heard some folks cull late summer/early fall but unless i'm SURE they're done laying, I won't do it. It's been fun seeing the new eggs we haven't seen in a while, like the small pinkish ones from the Australopes & the pale blue ones although we're not sure who's laying those.
    Thanks everyone!
     

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