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First Egg! New Questions Now......

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by caseycraig, Nov 20, 2016.

  1. caseycraig

    caseycraig New Egg

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    I found my first egg in my coop today! (Exciting!)

    Now Ive got questions....

    I have nesting boxes on my coop, should I remove my partition and open them up after one egg?

    Should I line the boxes with hay/alfalfa?

    This egg had been pecked at a bit, anything I can do to prevent that?
    Should I put golf balls in the hay?

    Should the first eggs be smaller and longer? (RIR)



    Any other tips are welcome![​IMG]
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I know other people feel differently but I strongly believe the nests should be open before the first egg is laid for several different reasons. Occasionally a pullet will drop her first egg about anywhere, but often pullets have control over that process from the first. Where they lay that first controlled egg often becomes their nest. Not always, bad habits can change, but often. I want that first controlled egg to be laid in a nest.

    Sometimes there are problems with the nests. If the lip is not high enough they might scratch out the bedding and any fake or real eggs. It’s possible chickens may decide to sleep in the nests. These things can be fixed. I want to fix them before the pullets start to lay, not after I start getting poopy eggs. I can only fix these problems if I know about them. I would not know about them if the nests were not open.

    Some people give you the impression that if the nests are open the chickens will definitely sleep in the nests. I consider that a solution looking for a problem. It can be a problem, if it is you need to fix the problem. But the vast majority of time it is not a problem, especially if your roosts are higher than the nests, you have ample roost space, and the chickens are the same age. Why try to teach them the bad habit of not laying in the nest when you probably don’t have a problem to start with?

    I don’t know what your nests look like or what kind they are. We do a lot of different things for nests. We also use a lot of different things to soften the nests. People use wood shavings, hay, straw, carpet, old rags, shredded paper, old feed bags, Spanish moss, the list goes on and on. People like to tell you why certain things won’t work, yet others use them quite successfully. I personally use hay, I just cut long grass from areas I don’t mow and dry it. It’s free for a bit of work. I suggest you try whatever you have or can easily get. If you don’t like it, try something different.

    I am a believer in the benefit of fake eggs in the nest, I use golf balls even years after they have learned where to lay. I’ve had a few experiences to encourage that belief. For example, a golf ball was scratched out of a nest onto the coop floor. A hen laid an egg next to that golf ball. When I put the golf ball back in the nest (and raised the lip so they couldn’t scratch it out) that hen went back to laying in the nest next to the golf ball. Putting golf balls in the nest does not guarantee you that they will use the nests, but it tremendously improves your odds.

    I’m not sure why that egg has those marks on it. It does look like pecking. Chickens use their beaks to inspect strange things, much like a dog uses its tongue and nose. Hopefully that won’t be a problem. And maybe they will peck at those golf balls and get a headache. That should teach them.

    A pullets first eggs are generally pretty small. Their bodies often are not fully grown and it’s nature’s way to protect those smaller bodies while the internal egg making factory gets itself sorted out. The eggs will increase in size. Whether the egg is round or long is just the type of egg that individual chicken lays. It really doesn’t have anything to do with it being a pullet egg or the breed.

    I’ve only faced this issue once, when I first got my chickens here. I left the nests open and never had a problem. Since then I always have adult hens laying in the nests, the nests have to stay open. I have new pullets learning to lay every year. I put a juvenile roost over my nests and use the top of my nests as a droppings board. Over the years there have only been a couple of times I’ve had a young chicken want to sleep in a nest. It’s almost never a problem and it has never been hard to fix.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    Ridgerunner has given you excellent advice, which I second.

    I never close up my nests as the girls will play at laying often a week or two before they actually lay. Using the fake eggs will help with their instincts to lay where you want them...a hen sees a nice cozy nest with an egg (fake or not) and she is literally drawn to sit on top of that egg and lay one of her own.

    I prefer soft pine shavings in my nesting boxes, but use what works for you and that you can get at a good price. I personally have less breakage with soft pine shavings laid deep.

    And yes, the first eggs will be all sorts of odd shapes and sizes until the hens settle into their normal laying patterns.

    As to egg pecking. Make sure your feed is good layer feed or you have abundant oyster shell or calcite grit available for free feed. Also gathering the eggs up soon after laid, at least twice a day, can help them not tussle eggs as they go in and out. Hens will roll and peck eggs to settle and lay, which can cause some shell scarring. If they are getting enough calcium, and are not being over lighted, you shouldn't be seeing egg eating. If you do find an egg eater, remove or cull her as she will teach the others to do so also.

    Also...the hole is at the tip of the egg which may have happened upon laying if your bedding is not deep enough. Eggs come out pointy end first and if there isn't enough bedding between them and the hard coop floor, breakage can occur.

    LofMc
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
  4. caseycraig

    caseycraig New Egg

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    Thank yall for the sound advice! This forum has been a huge benefit for me getting started!

    I did open up the nesting boxes yesterday. I checked this morning and it looks like the girls were rustling around in there some from yesterday afternoon to this morning. I threw a couple of golf balls in each box to help them along the way.

    There is plenty of grit available, I might switch to oyster shell?

    We did crack the egg open for breakfast this morning. The shell was fairly rigid (more-so than store bought for sure), looked to be super rich in color, and tasted great.

    I think we're on the right track with their diet.
     
  5. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    You will need granite grit and oyster shell in two separate bowls.....Without the extra Calcium from the oyster shell they draw out the needed calcium to make eggs out of their bones.....


    Cheers!
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Lady, I don’t believe this specifically says it, but if you watch you’ll see that the round end of the egg comes out first. Most of the literature supports this.



    Caseycraig, laying hens and pullets need a certain amount of calcium for their egg shells. This calcium can come from a lot of different things they eat, calcium in Layer feed, supplemental calcium like oyster shell or maybe re-feed them their egg shells, some plants they eat, some creepy crawlies if they are lucky enough to get them, and sometimes from the rocks they eat as grit if your rock is limestone or some other type that has high calcium content. Their egg shells will tell you how they are doing as far as getting enough calcium. If the shells are hard they are getting enough from some source or a combination of sources. If the shells are thin or soft they need more calcium. While I think it is a good thing to have oyster shell available, a lot of hens don’t need it. A small amount can last a long time. But if it disappears, they need it. If you consistently get hard shells you are doing OK.

    Here is another case where it could help to have your general location in your profile. In the US we call this oyster shell. In the UK it is called soluble grit. If you happen to be in the UK or somewhere else that you see soluble grit and insoluble grit, the oyster shell is the soluble grit and will provide calcium for the egg shells. The chicken’s digestive juices will dissolve it so they can use the calcium.

    Insoluble grit, usually granite when you buy it, is used in the gizzard to grind up their food that needs to be ground up. If commercial chicken feed is all they ever eat they really don’t need insoluble grit since it has already been ground up, but if they eat much of anything else they do need it. If they have access to the ground they will usually find small pebbles to use as insoluble grit. You often see them pecking at the ground. Insoluble grit is one of the things they are pecking. They can use almost any rock as grit, the harder it is the longer it lasts. The reason what you buy is granite is that it is very hard and lasts a long time plus it is cheap. They strain the waste residue from granite quarries to get appropriate sized pebbles. It’s a side product of a granite quarry.

    Soluble grit (oyster shell) and insoluble grit (granite or otherwise) are not interchangeable, they need both. I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “There is plenty of grit available, I might switch to oyster shell”.
     
  7. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    Ridgerunner, thank you for your correction.

    I know I've seen several of my girls lay with pointy end...I'd swear on it. However, I had not made a careful study of my hens laying, so intrigued by your response, I did a bit of research.

    Unknowingly, I stumbled onto a bit of controversy in the chicken world almost as big as, but not quite, the perennial question of "which came first, the chicken or the egg."

    How is a hen's egg laid? Pointy or blunt first?

    Several big Ag departments do state that it is large end out.

    However, other "experts" stated that some hens will lay pointy first, but considered it "abnormal."

    But then others stated that a hen can do both....lay pointy or lay round end first.

    After a bit of research I found what seems the most reasonable explanation. The "normal" method is blunt end first. However that will only happen if the hen is undisturbed. The egg travels down the duct pointy end first. At the last minute, as the hen raises, her pelvis shifts and the egg flips 180 degrees to orient the blunt end as the end that comes out first. However, If she is disturbed (by say a noisy chicken keeper coming in to do coop cleaning), she may lay it pointy end.

    Ah ha. That explains why I know I've seen pointy end eggs laid. I probably came in at the wrong time. And then there are apparently some gals who will lay either way.

    But you are correct. The "proper" process is blunt end first.

    I'll obviously have to talk to a couple of my girls then and tell them they need to straighten up, or out, or something....and learn to tip toe better in the hen coop.

    But good to know the "official" end is the large end first.

    So I wonder if my hens ever ask...so do you like to lay an "innie" or an "outie" [​IMG]

    LofMc

    http://www.afn.org/~poultry/egghen.htm (either pointy or blunt first)
    http://www.incredibleegg.org/eggcyclopedia/f/formation/ (blunt first, after traveling pointy down duct)
    http://www.audubon.org/news/the-art-hatching-egg-explained (way more information on eggs than most care to know, but a good read, and shows vast blunt end but some will lay pointy).

    And the answer here....that undisturbed hens lay blunt end first, however if disturbed they will lay pointy end first
    https://books.google.com/books?id=t...d of the egg is laid first by the hen&f=false
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Lady, about the only thing I’m ever sure if with chickens is that no matter what any of us say, there will always be an exception. Somebody has always seen something different. That’s why I said most of the literature. I try to use weasel words like that. I know, that’s just a technicality.

    To the OP, that damage on the end is consistent with the egg hitting something small and hard, like a nail head or screw head. My understanding is that the first egg was not laid in a nest, not sure where you found it. It could have hit something when it was laid, a pullet’s first egg can be off a bit so it could have easily been pointy end first. Chickens scratch a lot. It could have been scratched across the coop floor into something. I’ve seen damage like that when a hen accidentally sticks a toenail (claw) into an egg. But you said the egg was fairly hard. When I see claw damage the egg is usually thin-shelled.

    Since it was probably not laid in a nest I would not be too concerned with that kind of damage unless it starts happening consistently.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. LucyBO16

    LucyBO16 Out Of The Brooder

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    Congratulations! We use grass clippings in our nest boxes because it's free and our chickens love it. I put golf balls in the nest box and left them their for a month after my last chicken started laying. They now all lay in the nest box. I would leave the nest box open. Hope this helps.
     
  10. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    @caseycraig , Which I think gets to the heart of your question and concern ...the egg probably hit something hard when laid, or possibly was clawed over as the hens mulled. If you only see it very occasionally, it is nothing to worry about. Just check the depth of your nesting filler and make a point to gather eggs frequently (at least twice a day).

    Totally agree, sounds like you've got good feed and grit accessible. I personally lean to calcite grit free feed and the grit they pick up in free range and seem to do just fine.

    You should be filling your egg baskets soon as your ladies come on line.

    @Ridgerunner Yes...the only thing you can say consistently is that chickens will surprise you...but it was an excellent observation and I learned more about how a chicken lays an egg. :D

    LofMc
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016

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