Egg quality issues and free-ranging

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Audry, Oct 1, 2010.

  1. Audry

    Audry Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 24, 2009
    Wondering if anyone has had a similar experience to mine.

    We have 7 laying hens, almost a year old now. They've been free-ranging on weekends, and evenings after we get home from work for several months, but about 3 weeks ago we put up a fence around the yard so they could free range all day long. In the past two weeks, we've noticed that the whites of the eggs don't hold together as well in the pan - parts of the white are almost milky looking and kind of seep out and run across the bottom of the pan. It's kind of strange.

    The only thing I can think is that their diet has a lot more grass in it now - you can see their poop is kind of green and sometimes even has grass in it. Could it be a lack of protein? There aren't all that many bugs around right now compared to earlier in the summer. I thought free-ranging would always be better than commercial feed, but now I don't know what to think. (they still have commercial layer feed in their run, which they do eat, just not as much.)

    Thanks in advance for any insight.
     
  2. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:Are you sure you're using the eggs they just laid? Generally the whites get runnier the older the egg is. Mine free-range dawn to dusk and their whites are never runny.
     
  3. Audry

    Audry Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 24, 2009
    Yeah, their production has dropped off considerably recently and we are basically eating the eggs a day or two after they lay them.
     
  4. AtomicPenguin

    AtomicPenguin Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 28, 2009
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    My chickens free-range from dawn to dusk daily as well and we have no issues with their eggs. Do the chickens have access to laying feed also? They may not be getting the nutrients they need if you're solely relying on free-ranging for them to eat.
     
  5. Audry

    Audry Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 24, 2009
    Yes, they have layer feed in their run, and they do eat it, particularly first thing in the morning before I let them out for the day. I'm just wondering what they might not be getting if they're not eating as much of it anymore, so that I can maybe supplement. For example if they're not getting enough protein, I could treat them to a can of tuna in the evening every couple days or something like that. We do give them mealworms pretty regularly, though not every day.
     
  6. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    The mealworms should be an ample protein supplement.

    I handle mine much like you do, and like you, find they eat less feed when free ranging, though they eat more of it in the winter. Mine are truly free range -- I live in the country and have no fences; they could go to the next county if they wished. (Dogs are my predator protection.)

    I find there is a little variation in my eggs. Sometimes the whites are a little runny or cloudy, sometimes the yolks tend to break, etc. It is usually a short term situation, so I assume something is blooming or whatever, that they have gorged on. I just eat them anyway. It's all natural and good to me, and they taste the same to me.
     
  7. Audry

    Audry Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 24, 2009
    That's a good point. The weather changed very dramatically over the past couple weeks as well, going from hot and dry to cool and wet, and of course all the fall changes are happening in the plants as well. I'll just watch it for a while and maybe it will be temporary like yours. That does make sense.
     
  8. carrlr

    carrlr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:On a side note: I'm curious, do they have access to anything they could use as grit (i.e. gravel, sand, etc.) The reason I ask is that no matter how much grass, etc. mine eat, I've never seen it in their poop. If they don't have grit they don't get all the nutrients out of the food they eat. Just a thought.
     
  9. Audry

    Audry Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 24, 2009
    Yes, we have a dish of chicken grit in their run and there is also a large gravel area right outside the run that I've seen them pick stones out of and swallow. Mostly the droppings just have a greenish tinge. A few of them looked like they had some grass in them, but not the majority.
     
  10. prancie

    prancie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chickens free range and eat BOSS and we have no problems with the eggs. Every now and then one of the eggs will be runnier or the yoke will break, but that is not the norm. I don't know what is going on with your girls, maybe they are adjusting to the change in diet in some way. In my experience eggs from hens that eat layer feed tend to be runnier and paler and sometimes taste funny to me.
     

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