Cochin laying issues

VictoriaTemple

Songster
Aug 27, 2018
661
1,269
222
Southern Chester County, PA
Hi all. I have 4 Cochins in my flock of 17. Got some issues I'm not sure about.

#1: Megiddo, my 17 month old blue hen, was a rather inbred Amish raised and was sold to me as a cockerel. She had me (and 2 roosters) fooled completely until she was 13 months old, then dropped an egg in the middle of the yard. I almost consider her a non-laying hen, even though my head rooster loves her very much (not over-often). She attempts to lay on occasion, almost always softshell, though not shelless. Once in a while I get a decent egg. Her laying has dropped off considerably since this year's pullets started competing for laying space. Her feathers are brittle, always have been. I would never part with her because she is my cuddle-girl, but is there anything I can do to help her perform better?

#2: Maggie, my 6 month old barred pullet, might have snuck an egg in that I'm not sure about, maybe she's on the brink. She is fairly dominant, but runs from the roo, who has made a few advances (he is a gentleman). Seems to be afraid to jump into adulthood. Any ideas on how to put her at ease?

#3: Sunshine, 6 month old buff. A favorite of my rooster, she loves sex but can't seem to get the laying thing down. She tries enthusiastically every day, but no eggs! This has gone on for 2 weeks, she's even watching more experienced girls lay, the poor dear. Just gotta wait it out I guess, probably the sale with Maggie.

#4: Happy, 6 month old white. No interest in the head roo. Likes a lesser roo, a Red Marans named Zonk. Flirts with Zonk when they think they can get away with it, hopefully will be ok when enough other girls mature that Hero (the head roo) will accept their under-the-radar romance. No real concern here, just love.

Any thoughts, especially on poor Megiddo? Thanks!
 
Last edited:

oldhenlikesdogs

I Want Ice Cream
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Jul 16, 2015
45,837
80,694
1,522
Wisconsin
How many birds total do you have? Too many roosters can cause stress.

What are you feeding? A proper diet is important for making eggs, and for younger birds to mature.

Cochins aren't known for high egg production. Yours should lay a bit more at her age.
 

VictoriaTemple

Songster
Aug 27, 2018
661
1,269
222
Southern Chester County, PA
3 roosters, 14 hens. I believe in keeping roosters and my birds have been raised that way, I watch them every day and they are not overstressed because of the boys. If anything, I need another one.

I feed a fresh-milled non-GMO feed from the local mill. I mix layer and grower feed because the layer is a little lean for big birds. I also scratch all year and add soy flake, peanuts, or sunflower seeds for extra protein. They also get fresh weeds and grass every day (which they love...I have to pick those), fruit and veggies, and farmed earthworms. As far as I know, there is no feed issue.

My 2 blue birds, Megiddo (Cochin) and Mary (Jersey Giant) both have brittle feathers and always have (bought them that way), none of the others do. Maybe it's just not easy being blue. They are also my most mature hens, both are 17 months old. Mary lays like a champ. Megiddo, well...doesn't.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

I Want Ice Cream
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Jul 16, 2015
45,837
80,694
1,522
Wisconsin
Cochins have soft feathers, so some often look a bit shredded. That's normal.

I like roosters too. Only you can tell if they are too much or not.

You can just feed the grower feed straight. Layer isn't necessary. Just provide a separate bowl of oyster shells for the calcium needs. Your hens will consume it as necessary.

With all your extras you could dilute the daily protein requirements. Minimum are 16%. I recommend a higher protein ration if you want to feed lots of extras to help optimize laying.

Cochins are slow to mature. Most take 2 years to fully mature. Keeping them on a grower will help them to mature. A lower protein layer ration can slow it down.
 

VictoriaTemple

Songster
Aug 27, 2018
661
1,269
222
Southern Chester County, PA
Thank you! Megiddo's feathers and laying have gotten progressively worse since she started laying around Easter. After pretending (very convincingly) to be a cockerel, I wonder if her hormones need to correct. We are very limited in coop space right now, my new ( "big bird") coop is built but I'm still trying to get the fence installed, so all 17 are crammed in a TSC special at night. Very stressful. Megiddo is a bit of a loner and likes her own space, so having to push others around for a chance in the coop (which is doubling as our only nest box, they won't lay anywhere else) might be throwing her cycle off?? She actually tried to brood Mary's eggs repeatedly last month, and finally gave up after I kept taking them. She is very gentle and clearly a little depressed. I really don't know if the laying issues and feather issues are related or not. I guess we'll see when our new yard is ready.

The layer feed is advertised 16% (like I said, lean) but it at least has added calcium. The grower is 19%, still leaner than I want, but fresh, cheap, and available. I am seeking better feed, but mills are not easy to find, and I can't afford feed store retail prices.

I didn't know Cochins take so long to mature. Maybe I just need to wait it out. As I said, she was an inbred Amish raised, they claimed show lines which might also explain the bad laying. Her feathers are very thick, but brittle and poorly colored. I'm fairly certain she was a cull. Yay Craigslist.

The pics were taken in March. You can see how thick her feathers are, they have gotten thinner and raggedy, especially on her back. It looks like she's getting barebacked, but if that's the case it's not the rooster's fault. I watch them together all the time and he is very gentle.
 

Attachments

  • P1010775.JPG
    P1010775.JPG
    558.6 KB · Views: 11
  • P1010703.JPG
    P1010703.JPG
    657.1 KB · Views: 10

oldhenlikesdogs

I Want Ice Cream
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Jul 16, 2015
45,837
80,694
1,522
Wisconsin
She's a very good looking bird. Even a gentle rooster will wear the feathers off a hen. Most roosters mate repeatedly over the course of an hour, times all day, it's a lot on hen. That's why it's generally better to have less roosters.

Show bred birds are extremely poor layers in my experiences. Going broody will cause them to stop laying. My cochins lay a few eggs than go broody repeatedly throughout the year. I definitely don't get many eggs out of them. I keep them because I enjoy the breed.

Crowding can be stressful. What are your plans for the coming winter? Are you planning to cover the run so they can go out in a bigger area during the day? Just some stuff to think about.
 

VictoriaTemple

Songster
Aug 27, 2018
661
1,269
222
Southern Chester County, PA
I also keep Cochins because I enjoy the breed. I have severe autophobia and a major depressive disorder, so my chickens are my therapy animals. That's why I loaded up on cuddly Cochins! My other 3 are from Ideal Hatchery in Texas, Megiddo is the only "showbird". Also, my Jersey Giant rooster, Hero, loves Cochins a lot, and since Jersey Giants are so hard to find, I'm very much looking forward to raising some hybrids! Maybe someday even from Megiddo, God willing. I hoped to give her a chance to adopt some chicks in September, but until the fence is in, no chickies.

The new yard will not be covered, but my birds are cold-hardy enough to enjoy it in winter unless we get a real hard cold snap, in which case I can move them back into the area under my 2nd floor deck, which is fenced (that's part of their run space now, next to the TSC coop and a 70 sq ft dirt yard). My mother demanded that the new coop be built away from the house. The older birds are showing signs of beginning to molt, so hopefully that will be good and done with before it gets cold. The new yard will be about 700 square ft, the new coop is 8ft x 8ft x 8 ft high. I'm very lucky to have it, it was given by my church.
 
Last edited:

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom