First Eggs - Newbie Questions - It's okay to laugh

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Shannonwbl, Jul 21, 2008.

  1. Shannonwbl

    Shannonwbl Chillin' With My Peeps

    We have a mixed flock of 6 (2BR, Wyandotee, AA, Blue Chocin, NHR) pullets (hatched around March 10th) that we free range during the day. We were out of town for a couple of days and the friend that was keeping all the animals called with an update, everyone doing fine, still have just 2 dummie eggs, but I only have 1 dummy egg! Wouldn't you know they would start laying when we were out of town. By the time we got home we had three eggs. So here are my newbie questions:

    1) Who dunnit? Is there anyway to tell who is laying? I haven't caught anyone on the nest yet.

    2) Feeding - I have been feeding them starter feed with free choice of oyster shells, but just read that oyster shells can damage kidneys if given too soon. Uh oh! The shells on our new eggs were beautiful and I would say even thicker than store bought. Do I need to change my feeding in anyway? Have I hurt them?

    3) Size - The first egg was a big one, and had a double yolk then the second two were much smaller, single yolk. Assuming they are all being laid by the same bird, is this normal? Again, do I need to make any feed adjustments?

    4) Freshness - My friend left the eggs for us to "discover" but how long will an egg be considered fresh? Since it is around 100 here right now I threw out the first one (it had been 48hrs). The second two I fried up and fed back to the flock as a "thank you" - such a softie.

    5) Cleaning - Finally, as an admitted germ-a-phob, I want to clean the eggs before storing them in the fridge. I have read that there is special cleaning stuff and that if you clean them with soap and water it can absorbe into the egg. Is that true or a marketing tactic?

    Thanks in advance for reading this (I know it is long) and for any advise. We are very excited (can you tell?) and CLUELESS! I posted some pics below:

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    Here is the hubby and our boys taking the first peek -
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    Here is what they saw-
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    Here are our eggs with a quarter for size -
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    Here are our boys frying up a treat for the girls -
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    Finally here are some of our "girls"-
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  2. dreamgirl

    dreamgirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 28, 2007
    Hudson Valley, NY
    What great photos! Thanks for posting them and congrats on the eggs.

    As for your questions, I'll answer what I can:

    1. If they are all brown egg layers, not unless you catch them. Once you do, just note the shade of the shell, that should stay consistent, but until they've been laying for a while the sizes will vary egg to egg.

    2. I don't know about kidney probs, I thought to much calcium too early could cause bone probs. If they look fine, they probably are and what is done is done. Besides, roosters eat the same layer feed as the hens and they don't need the extra calcium. Now that they are laying they should be on a layer feed which supposedly has enough calcium in it, but if they free range they'll need to be supplemented. I just wash out my eggshells, dry them and crush them well (morter and pestle, but a coffe/spice grinder works too) instead of oyster shells b/c I'm a vegetarian, and it's free...

    3. They will be all different sizes and shapes even from the same bird, for a while. This is normal.

    4. I collect at least once a day and on very hot or cold days try to do it ASAP (frozen eggs burst), though I'm sure they're fine for a day or more depending on what it is like in the coop--if it is cool they should be fine, before fridges they were left out... That said, if you leave them they are likely to get broken and maybe eaten and this is a BIG problem. I scramble and feed questionable and broken eggs to my flock too (but NOT really questionable ones).

    5. I don't know anything about commercial cleaners. I rarley wash mine before storing them, instead I wash them all right before packaging. The shells are permeable, and, when laid, have a thin membrane that protects them. Washing them removes the membrane as well as the dirt which shortens their storage time. However, if the egg is really poopy, I'll wash it first, if it's just a little dirty, I won't. Prevention is the best answer--keep clean bedding in the nests and don't let them sleep in them.

    Good luck!!
     
  3. luvmychicknkids

    luvmychicknkids Canning Squirrel

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    Mar 6, 2008
    Floresville, Texas
    Just wanted to say.......Awwwwwww.....congratulations!!! Awesome, sweet, pics!!!!
     
  4. Shannonwbl

    Shannonwbl Chillin' With My Peeps

    We sort of figured that it would be hard to tell who was laying (except for the AA), but it is a fun mystery. Since we got home we have all been running out to the coop several times a day to see if we can catch someone.

    As far as the feed, they do free range all day, but the coop is open all the time so they always have access to feed, water and shells. Should I go ahead and buy layer food? You mentioned supplements. I didn't know I needed anything else as long as they have access to layer/grower feed. I have kept the shells and plan to crush them and offer those as well.

    Thank you very much. I really don't know what I would do without this site!
     
  5. dreamgirl

    dreamgirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 28, 2007
    Hudson Valley, NY
    After a while you'll learn their timing a clues a little better--mine usually lay anytime from 9 am to 2 pm, but some are shy and some stay on the nest forever b/4 laying.

    Sorry, I meant supplemented with calcium. Yes, if they are not already on layer feed, now is the time to switch them--it has the higher protien they now need, plus calcium. Add a little more to their old feed each day until after a week it is all the new feed (or however long it takes to finish your current bag...).
     
  6. Shannonwbl

    Shannonwbl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks. I will go ahead and get the layer feed and start mixing, though they eat very little of what I put out. I guess we have lots of good bugs and weeds - come to think of it with the horses we are usually overrun with flies, but that population seems to be down this year and we haven't seen hardly any ticks since they started ranging. In fact, my equine vet is the one that suggested chickens when I complained about ticks last year. We have had such fun with them - I owe him some eggs!
     

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