Closer to laying: misc questions

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Agilityscots, Sep 28, 2007.

  1. Agilityscots

    Agilityscots Songster

    Jun 9, 2007
    Central Ohio
    Hi everybody!

    I haven't had a chance to post much lately now that school's started again, but I do have a couple quick questions as my girls are getting closer to laying time. Their wattles and combs are getting nice and dark, though not quite red yet. Nobody's squatting, either.

    1. They're now 13 weeks old. When, and how, do I transition them to layer feed? What can I do with my remaining chick starter? (I'm thinking I'll probably have a good 20-25 lbs. left depending on when I switch them)

    2. When should I "make up" the nest box with bedding, and what should I put in it? I didn't want them roosting in the box, so right now their waterer sits in it...DH will hang it as soon as I can give him the go-ahead!

    3. They're moulting now. Will this delay the start of laying?

    4. I've seen that some people feed their layers oyster shells. What is it for?

  2. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    Feb 28, 2007
    South Eastern Indiana
    Amy, lets see if I can 13 weeks, they have about 5 weeks to go, for the most part.
    1) As for the can give it to them untill its gone. When you see the first egg....start mixing in the layer feed, 50/50 with the other.
    2)I use straw in the nest boxes...mine love it. I would say open the nest boxes at about 15 weeks old. Just watch them..see how they act with it. If they try sleepingin them....cover them back for another week.
    3) Molting might delay thier egg laying, so will the winter months. Dont fret tho...they should give ya eggs through the winter..just wont get FULL production. This also depends on the breed.
    4)Go ahead and put down a bowl of oyster choice. They will know how much they need.
    hope this helps!
  3. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Amy! Good to see you again!
    Layer feed should start about the time either they are showing signs of laying, about 18-20 weeks or better yet, when one lays the first egg. You can let them finish the chick starter. It won't hurt at all. If you have some left, just mix it in with your layer you buy to finish it off.
    Hang your nests around 16-17 weeks so they can get accustomed to them being there and you can see signs of laying approaching.
    They aren't truly moulting right now, just getting adult plumage. It won't delay anything. True moults start around 18 months old.
    Oyster shell is for added calcium and hard shells, so they don't need that till after they start laying.
    Glad you're back!

    *****Deb and I posted at the same time, LOL. There is not exact time to do some of these things and you won't sink yourself if you vary some from what either of us say. I would say they are a little young for oyster shell, though.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2007
  4. Tuffoldhen

    Tuffoldhen Flock Mistress

    Jan 30, 2007
    At 13 weeks depending on their breed they won't be ready to lay til 18 to 21 weeks old...That's the time you start changing over to layer feed...but not until, they still need their starter grower for quite a few weeks yet....then I just mix half and half til the starter grower is gone and they are completely on layer feed....

    Anytime now you can make up your nestboxes so they can get use to seeing them..also you can add golfballs, plastic or wooden eggs to let them know thats where they need to lay...I left plastic eggs in my nextboxes for months after they started laying to make sure they knew that was where to lay....I use wood shavings in my nest boxes...

    Their molt at that age should just be a juvenile molt and nothing major...

    Oyster shell is a calcium for their diet and to help with egg shell hardness...keep it in a seperate dish for them to eat at will...You can get it in different size bags and they won't need it til they start laying....Hope I helped.....

    Looks like we alllll posted at the same time!
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2007
  5. Agilityscots

    Agilityscots Songster

    Jun 9, 2007
    Central Ohio
    Thanks, Deb and Cynthia! I figured I had at least a month before they started, but the days and weeks slip by so quickly that I wanted to post my questions before it was too late. [​IMG]

    I'm glad I'll get to keep using my starter for a while; that means I'll use up much more of it than I had thought I would.

    I didn't realize they weren't moulting--this is great stuff to know!

    I'll wait on the oyster shell for now.

    Thanks again to both of you!

  6. eggzettera

    eggzettera Songster

    Thanks Speckled Hen for such an informed detailed reply (guess thats why your a mod,eh!). I had been planning on asking the moulting question today. I had been wondering if they moulted the first year, I thought between waiting months for the chicks to grow up to get eggs & then if they had to go through a molt, the first year would be a bust. Also it did not make sense that they would feather out and then moult again within the same year. Anyhow back to the 18 months age determined or is it seasonal (like my cat shedding).....
  7. opihiman911

    opihiman911 Songster

    Mar 19, 2007
    As for the nest box I use dried grass clippings. I live in Hawaii and straw/hay is very expensive. Our lawn grows year around so every other week when I mow the lawn I rake up what didn't get mulched down and put it into an old wheelbarrow to dry. In a week it is no longer green and damp and I put it in their nestbox. Don't use fresh green grass as they will pack it down and it will go moldy and smelly. Makes it easy to keep a nice deep 6-8" layer of soft grass that the girls love. I have a constant supply and it makes the laying room smell nice and fresh. Also if they do poop in there, its easy to scoop out a little corner of grass instead of the whole nest they seem to weave and mold when you use long straw.
    Hope this helps.

  8. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Good question, Nadine. I had chickens molting in the summer and some who really haven't molted noticably yet and they're the same age. I think it varies.

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