Egg production, Internal laying and when is it time??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Babe77, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. Babe77

    Babe77 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 11, 2009
    Williamsburg, MI
    My head is spinning at this point after reading all the postings about Egg Yolk Peritonitis and internal laying leading up to this posting ... I am so sorry for everyone's losses...

    I too have suspected that I have a problem within our flock of (14) 2-1/2 yr old hens. This is a new adventure that we took on in 2009 for the egg production for ourselves and extended family so I consider us "Newbies" still. We were selling our excess eggs to neighbors for less than normal amount many on here may get ($1.25-1.50) and that made the cost factor "break even" for us.

    A problem for me has always been that not many of them enjoy being handled and fussed with except for Sophie. We had Gertie who had bumble foot and it was extremely stressful (on both of us) to catch her to do the 3 surgeries (success on that account) and I know stress on them is not good.

    For the past 2 yrs of their laying, they all were good producers. In June I did talk to the hubby to see if it was time to get another round of chicks or to wait and see what this winter production would be but he made the decision to wait until next spring. While the summer mths here was hotter than normal about 3 mths ago we started to have overall production down. Checking the nest box in the am and then again at noon, we would discover sometimes 1 or 2 rough thin shelled eggs every couple of days with at least 1 rough thin shelled egg that was broken in the nest box and assumed that we had an egg eater in the group. Other times the egg would not be broken but rough and thin the same. For us not knowing who it belonged to, we at least found 1 or 2 of the girls eating them at different times and 1 of those girls seems to be the one lately who is content to stay in the coop a good part of the day only to be coaxed out with scratch.

    The past 1-1/2 mth production has been down to only 2 or 3 eggs daily for all 14 girls and while we thought it could possibly be due to upcoming molting, we can honestly say that we are not 100 % sure they are. Hef is our only Roo and he has always been a busy boy with the girls. Many of our girls are very thin feathered to almost barebacked so telling if they are molting is hard and the amount of feathers in the yard is not true indication for us.

    Well, yesterday I went out to retrieve the eggs and found only 2 eggs and a weird looking cheesy oblong substance in the nest box. I cut it open and found come egg shells inside which is the reason for combing the site today. Knowing now that we probably have at least 1 of the girls with Internal laying and that is what that substance was, how do others determine when "it is time"?? How do you make the decision and in what methods is this done?

    We have discussed if their egg laying days are coming to a close and how we would really know when it is time to do something for a number of reasons. Winter mths will be upon us and the cost to keep them over that time will increase with less resources from our selling of the eggs and the downward slid in the economy. We want to do the right thing for everyone involved.

    Thanks in advance to those more knowledgeable for your assistance and advice.....
     
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    At that age, and with the economic concerns you spelled out, culling non-productive layers is something one has to accept as part of the equation. If you could afford to be an "old hens retirement home" you wouldn't have brought up the economics.

    I prefer to cycle in young pullet every six months or every year, at minimum. I don't want the entire flock to age at the same time. We too sell eggs, although our prices are twice yours and we are over in Crawford County, not a well-to-do area at all.

    We know a number of large families that really need the help. Our giving them older hens for stewing chickens helps them out. They are quite proficient at cleaning them.
    If you cannot or do not wish to process the hens for your own, you'll find takers out there.

    There is no simple, easy way, but one effective way to judge your flock is to note who's legs have returned to yellow tinge. Who's comb isn't as red as in former days. Then, you can simply pull up a chair, early in the morning and "chart" the hens going into the laying boxes. Visiting the box when she comes out to inspect and collect. Within two days, your chart will be very accurate. There is also the color applied to the vent method. But in any case, I'd put them on a good, solid protein diet, with zero scratch, for a week and see if production picks up. It not, it is decision time. I am also surprised you Rooster is wearing out 14 hens.
     
  3. Babe77

    Babe77 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 11, 2009
    Williamsburg, MI
    Thanks Fred and glad to see a close neighbor in the group, really appreciate your experience. I thought the same thing about getting girls this past spring for this seasons laying but the hubby thought waiting would be the answer. Now I have to wait until spring again. And I do know that the price is on the lower side, again the hubby said they are our neighbors, so hence the selling price.

    I will try to take some pics tomorrow also and see what you think about being Hef being a busy boy and check out the combs to see if they are paler and if the legs are on the yellow side tomorrow.
     

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