Egg eaters!!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by NHchicks, Dec 9, 2014.

  1. NHchicks

    NHchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 13, 2010
    I have 15 hens and 1 rooster. Many of the hens are aging, one is 5 yrs. old, the rest are younger and range down to one that was hatched last spring. Some are in molt or just coming out of molt. And it's winter, dark days, and we went thru some super cold temperatures here in New Hampshire, so I didn't think much about not finding many eggs. But now I am getting NONE. I even had to BUY eggs at the grocery store for the first time in years. BOO HOO! I was also selling eggs to the teachers at school, but can't now. And I'm realizing the hens are bored, they won't go out of the coop and attached run (they free range usually), and I think this is why they are eating their eggs, because there is always plenty of chicken feed in the attached run, and I give them leftovers almost daily.

    I'm thinking I may just raise a flock of new chicks this spring, and get rid of all these hens, except the broody mothers and my 5 yr. old hen who is a pet (she's like a dog, follows us around, likes to be picked up). But until then - I need eggs!

    Just wondered if anyone else is going thru this now that it's winter. I shoveled a path in the snow for the chickens but they still wouldn't get their feet cold by leaving the coop/run. The run is 16' x 20', it's not like it's small. And filled with branches, perches, some hay bales, etc. to keep them entertained, and several dog crates in there for them to lay in or lounge in.

    One answer might be golf balls. But other than that I just don't know what to do to get our eggs back. I don't THINK there's an egg predator getting the eggs, but I do leave the coop door open all day. I have had an issue with voles in the garden, but I would think the chickens would get the voles if they were an issue.
     
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I think that it is just winter. If I read you right, you only have one hen that is a year old, and the rest are older. Older hens take the dark days of winter to heart and quit laying unless you are adding hours of light.

    I have one that is laying 2-3 times a week, January is when I will see things pick up. I don't think you have egg eaters, I just don't think you have eggs. By January 30 perhaps later as you are north of me, but when the days get longer, they will lay eggs again and be bigger.

    I would not cull them all, I swear the longest 5 months are when you are pregnant or waiting for a hen to lay. But if you could cull your older hens, except your 5 yr old.

    Mrs K
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    It's the long nights/short days. Kinda late to start supplemental lighting this year as the solstice is just 11 days away, but heres' my notes on using it...it does help.

    Older layers need 14-16 hours of light to lay regularly thru winter. Last winter I used a 40 watt incandescent light(this year I am using a CFL) that comes on early in the morning to provide 14-15 hours of light and they go to roost with the natural sundown. Last year I started the lighting increase a bit late(mid October), the light should be increased slowly, and the pullets didn't start laying until late December. Here's a pretty good article on supplemental lighting. Some folks think that using lighting shortens the years a hen will lay, I don't agree with that theory but I also plan to cull my older hens for soup at about 3 years old.
     
  4. NHchicks

    NHchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 13, 2010
    Thank you! I won't give the hens dirty looks this morning then. [​IMG] I don't have electricity at the coop, so lighting isn't really an option, unless I wanted to stick a battery operated in there. One thing I did do was plexiglass one panel (4' section) of the coop (the coop itself is pretty small but there's an opening to the run, it's all wired like Ft. Knox) to try to let more light in. I hope someday to have some other panels plexiglassed, but it's pretty expensive. And then I take the panels off in summer so it's just hardware cloth for breeze.

    I feel better that maybe it's just that aging hens take the darkness harder. I know I take it harder too!! Counting the days till 12/21.....
     

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