Could you guys help me? :(

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ReillyJ, Jul 26, 2014.

  1. ReillyJ

    ReillyJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So i've had my hens (got them grown from a neighbor) for about 3 months, they've been in a coop and a small covered run for about 2 months now, we're TRYING to build a big pen out in front so they can free range (they used to free range and roost in trees, neighbors abandoned them) but it seems like we're never able to get around to building it, anyway...

    They've been laying well, i bought them some new feed, Organic layer feed from Scratch and Peck which they love but it seems their egg laying has dropped off just a BIT and this morning i found in the pen an egg and it was pecked open and eaten! Keep in mind i'm a brand new chicken owner and doing the best i can --providing organic feed (in addition to their pellets) and grit, oyster shell, water with probiotics and electrolytes, i give them fresh fruit and grass, doing all i know how to do

    Q:
    1) is this normal to occasionally find an egg in the run eaten like this? i think it was laid out in the run. All their other eggs seem normal, this one might have been thin shelled.

    2) i am wondering if i should just let them out to free range and build the pen when we can? i'm worried about boredom but especially worried that they won't go in at night even though i've been told at 2 months in the coop and run they'll most likely return (they took very well to the roost and nesting boxes)

    Could y'all weigh in on what you would do about just opening the door during the day (keeping it open) and trusting they'll go back in at night or should i just keep waiting until the pen is up? And should i be worried about the egg?

    THANKS for any help!!
     
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Since they've been in your coop/run for 3 months, they should come back there to roost. Would be interesting to know if they go back to the neighbors. You might want to start the free ranging by letting them out just an hour or so before dark, so they don't wander too far before wanting to roost at dusk.

    Egg eating can be a real problem, a broken egg is fair game but a hole pecked in by a chicken can be the start of egg eating...usually chickens will eat the whole egg, shell and all. Are you certain you might not have some kind of rodent eating the eggs? Is there any other evidence in the nests, or anywhere else, of eaten eggs; yolks, white, broken shells? Hopefully it's just a one off, tho I'd wonder why they laid in the run if they've been using the nests regularly. Could be a fluke or could be something's off about the nests.

    Look at the labels on your feed bags, make sure they are getting at least 16-18% protein with the feed.
     
  3. ReillyJ

    ReillyJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for replying!



    Well, i took a deep breath and opened the coop door and they are IN HEAVEN, scratching and searching for bugs. They usually start roosting at 6ish and it's noon here, didn't read your post until i let them out but i can't imagine that they wouldn't now call that home! If they or some of them don't go in tonight then...oh well, i'll work with them. I think that we might still try to get a pen up so we don't have to worry, in the meantime i just felt that i needed to let them roam, i think the egg was the kicker.

    I have 2 nesting boxes (4 hens) but they all insist on using one so i don't know if there were 2 up there and one needed to lay? but it looked like a big egg and all the contents were gone, i didn't inspect the hens, wish i had, nest boxes look totally normal. When i first put them in the coop they took immediately to the roost we made them and the nest boxes no problem. I was just worried about boredom and being stir crazy.

    Also here's the feed, it looks like good feed, it's not pelletized so i wet it so they consume the fines and it's 18% protein:

    http://www.scratchandpeck.com/product/naturally-free-layer/

    ALso they're enjoying themselves immensely (of course) but it's clear one of them hasn't laid yet and she's acting upset, walking around the coop, going in and out and jumping in and out of the nest box, i guess i'll just relax and see what eventually happens, don't want to lose any eggs. But we still plan on building the large pen so eventually they will be contained.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2014
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Sometimes this is the best, and sometimes the only, thing you can do.
    I've found waiting and watching teaches me ALOT.
     
  5. ReillyJ

    ReillyJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had gone to a movie while they were out and called my husband and he went to check on them and they were in the coop!! So he closed the door and they roosted :D But they sure tore up my yard in the meantime and we will still build a pen for them but i was so glad to see them out enjoying themselves.

    Also is it normal for them to lay heavily 1 or 2 weeks and then light?
     
  6. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Overrun With Chickens

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    Yes and no. If you are having a hot spell, that will increase their stress and production will suffer. Change in diet can affect laying. I would of expected a drop right when they came over, not weeks later.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Good news on the roosting!!

    Egg production can drop and rise for no apparent (to us) reason.....at least that the conclusion I've come to.
    Any change or stress can effect laying, some of those reasons might not be obvious to us.....and some can.

    Know tho, that free range birds can start laying in 'secret' nests out in the range area.
     
  8. ReillyJ

    ReillyJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    YEP! i think "Betty" layed an egg outside, she was acting confused and upset a bit and kept going in and out of the coop and looking at the nest but i think she may have layed outside. I think i'm going to let them out after 1:30 or 2:00 because apparently that's when they stop laying for the day. Three to four hours of free ranging is probably plenty, anyway!

    Also laying...i did have a change of feed like i said in the original post, switched from a feed store layer feed to organic soy corn free layer crumble which they love and that's why i was asking if anyone had experience with it, you'd think they'd perform better on it but it's only been 2 weeks. Today there were 3 eggs in the next box so i know they enjoyed themselves and the exercise. Can't wait till 2:00 p.m. rolls around :)
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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