Egglaying 101 - need tips!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by carlislechicks, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. carlislechicks

    carlislechicks New Egg

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    Oct 22, 2012
    Hi, my 6 chickens are 20 weeks, but none have started laying yet. I raised them from Memorial day on, and it's getting cold here in Massachusetts. I've heard what I'm hoping is a big myth -- that you have to leave a light on for 15 hours of daylight for the hens or they won't start laying til spring, and if you miss one day of the artificial light, that's the end of eggs for months! I have family members who are so eager for the eggs to start coming, so in reading other posts, perhaps we should expect nothing and maybe they'll start coming. But any advice about the following:
    1) light affecting chickens who mature in the end of fall and how this affects their laying
    2) how do you keep laying boxes poop-free? We are doing the deep litter method in the coop, and it seems like it might be impossible to keep the eggs poop-free. But I've read that they can't be eaten if they have poop on them. Is this all true?
    3) Any tried and true hints about encouraging laying at this time of year?

    Thanks! (Sorry so long -- new to this site and forum!)
     
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Yes, providing supplemental lighting does work. You don't need 15 hours, certainly not for first year pullets. Just an hour or two of pre-dawn light will suffice. Most folks use a timer. First year pullets will often lay pretty well with no help, but since you are anxious, that information is mostly factual, although not completely as given you. LOL

    Sure, you can eat pooped on eggs. Just wash them under hot water and don't eat them raw or under cooked, just like the menu disclaimer at your local diner or cafe says.

    As for dirty nests, this is because you have birds sleeping in the boxes. If you have open boxes while the pullets are young, say 12-18 weeks, they just think those boxes are for sleeping in. This is going to prove a bit of a hard habit to break now. In the future, don't have open boxes available to pre laying birds.

    Also, if the boxes are up high, even 2 or 3 feet above the floor? They love that for sleeping. I'd do this. Retrain. Have a roost that is accessible to them, say 3 or 4 feet off the ground and one that is only 2 feet off the ground. They'll take them eventually.

    Lower the nest all the way down to the ground. A chicken, by instinct, prefers to sleep up a bit higher for a sense of protection from ground predators. Chickens also, by instinct, are ground layers. Having the nest on the floor for awhile will encourage them to lay in them when the time comes.

    Look at the combs and wattles. You're looking for deep, blood red combs, faces and wattles. Those are signs of sexual maturity. Good luck with your flock.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2012
  3. jed2012

    jed2012 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    use cayenne pepper it works like magic!
     
  4. RileyB

    RileyB Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 7, 2012
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    I'm having the same problem with my hens pooping in the next boxes. They used to sleep in them. I've got that habit broken now, but now they won't go in the nest boxes at all.

    I just started raising chickens last spring too, so I'm no expert. However, I live in NH, so I can tell you what I'm seeing regarding light/egg laying. My birds definitely don't have 15 hours of light a day. A couple of them just began laying, so I don't think lighting is an issue. However, I used to keep the lights on longer and the two that are laying are doing so at night. I'm thinking the amount of lighting they used to get has confused them and messed up their schedules. So I've been trying to stick with the natural lighting schedule of sunlight when they're in the coop.

    As for poop on the eggs...as someone else said, just wash it off. We have the deep litter compost in our coop, and even with the hens laying on the ground (I'll get them to lay in the nest boxes someday!) they don't get too dirty. I just wash them off immediately and refrigerate.
     
  5. jed2012

    jed2012 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 1, 2012
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    i just started last year in june and i have chickens pooping in the nestboxes and making it smell like ammonia! how can i stop them? there isnt enough room on the roosts for them all, so they sleep in the nest boxes and poop in them like i said before.
     
  6. jed2012

    jed2012 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 1, 2012
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    oh nvm (nevermind is nvm) about the pooping in the nest boxes. ill just ask my dad to make adjustments.
     

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