flock rotation?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by AlivianAcres, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. AlivianAcres

    AlivianAcres Chillin' With My Peeps

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    At what age should I rotate our hens (ie eat) I want to be sure I have layers at all times so I will probably rotate 2-3 times a year....but wondering how to space my intake.
     
  2. wsmith

    wsmith Chillin' With My Peeps

    Not sure I understand the question...

    Hens will generally lay productively for 2-5 years, depending on the breed and management technique.
     
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  3. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    2-3 times a years seems very often. Hen wills lay well for 2-5 years depending on the breed. My white leghorn is 3 and still lays every single day.

    If you are wanting meat more frequently it may be best to do to separate flocks. The meat breeds can be processed as young as 8 weeks.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2012
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  4. AlivianAcres

    AlivianAcres Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh wow. I always heard that you get eggs for 18 months or so...but that they didn't produce long. I had just planned to have 6 month gaps between intake to keep a batch at the ready . That's good to know!!!
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2012
  5. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Backyard layers will lay for a longer period of time than factory chickens. Keep in mind that you are going to see a decrease in production durring the winter. You can help combat this by adding a light to your coop but it is usually still a decrease.

    I have not started a breeding program nor have I ever personally had a meat breed. I know you have to be very very careful with the meaties diets if you want them to stay alive long enough for breeding. The layers are much easier to breed.

    For layers, you could also consider looking into the cost of buying point of lay pullets rather than paying for an incubator and the cost of raising chicks. It might not be much of a saving but you would not have to deal with owning roosters and getting rid of all those extra roosts you are going to hatch unless you want to raise them up and eat them also.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2012
  6. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm dealing with some of the same questions. I purchased my first 8 chicks in June of 2011. I lost one that October to a bobcat about a month before the flock started laying. I added two Easter Egger chicks during the winter (having found a nice lady on Craigs list who was raising a few more than she really needed). Summer of 2012 I purchased 35 Freedom Ranger chicks to raise for meat. Ended up keeping two of the pullets and one of the cockrels. In the meantime, I lost two more of the original 8, one to sour croup and one...not really sure, but I think it had to do with the stress of having to evacuate from our home due to the Waldo Canyon fire during the hottest summer on record. So, long story short...now have 10 chickens ranging from 6 months to 18 months. This is honestly about the maximum comfortable occupancy of my coop.

    My two 18 month old Wellsummers stopped laying almost entirely this fall when they hit their first moult, and although they are back to fully feathered, I get maybe 1 Wellsummer egg a week from the two of them. The 18 month old Barred rocks egg production is decreased from last year, but pretty reliable, as is the White Rocks. Easter Eggers are going strong at about 12 months of age and the Freedom Rangers...well, laying pretty well, but not as reliably as the others were at this age. I've ordered 8 more chicks from MPC for delivery in the spring (7 being the minimum I can order here). I figure that in the summer of 2013, the Wellsummers will be retired to the crock pot, as will the three Freedom Rangers (they just eat more than the others, lay less, and take up needed space in my coop). So that's five I'm mentally preparing myself to "do in". I don't know about the rest. I'm figuring I can offer several of the new chicks as "started pullets" on Craigs List if my remaining hens are still producing well into their second year. I'm kind of fond of the Rocks and the EEs. We'll see, I have time.
     
  7. they'reHISchickens

    they'reHISchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's molting time and the only ones laying are the "spring chickens", i.e. the first ones hatched this spring. All hens are going to molt yearly, so to have year round eggs, you need to stagger the birthdates. We have found that having a few come into lay in October/November carries us through with only a few sparse weeks. For those weeks, we just don't have any extra to share. We are planning on processing some of our 3 yr olds before Christmas to lower winter numbers. These have layed 3 years so I guess they are actually almost 4 year olds. Time really flies! They are in molt now and we should process instead of feeding but then we have to deal with pinfeathers.[​IMG]
     
  8. wsmith

    wsmith Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hey AlivianAcres,
    Come over and visit us on the Colorado thread! [​IMG] https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/68894/colorado/
     
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  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    If you want eggs in the winter you either need to supplement lighting or start new chicks each spring. A chick born in say spring 2011 will start laying in fall 2011 and usually lay straight through that first winter and taper off when she molts in fall 2012. She'll take the winter off (winter 2012) and start laying again spring 2013. Production will be fairly good that spring and summer but not quite as good as that first year, and again she'll taper off in fall 2013 and not lay over the winter, then start again in the spring 2014, again with decreased production.

    Commercial egg factories age out the hens at 18 months, they don't want to feed the non productive birds over that winter. The birds do continue to lay, I've had hatchery birds lay at 6-7 years old, at least a couple eggs a week. But it reaches a point where the cost has to balance the benefit for each person.

    If you want to keep a the most productive flock, buy chicks each spring. Age out your hens at 18 months. At that age you can butcher them or try reselling them, I don't usually have a problem getting rid of older pullets.

    You can leg band them or just buy different breeds each age, makes it easy to tell who is what age.


    And the laying schedule above is for production type birds..........usually your dual purpose hatchery birds, leghorns, sex links. Ornamental breeds don't always lay as well.
     
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  10. wsmith

    wsmith Chillin' With My Peeps

    There are some Heritage dual purpose breeds that continue to lay during the winter without supplimental lighting (though they slow somewhat), Dominiques for example. Dual purpose breeds don't have the total yearly lay numbers like an egg production breed, however, they will usually lay longer. There are some who say that they all have about the same amount of egg production capacity throughout their lifetime, its just that Dual purpose Heritage breeds take longer to lay all their eggs.
    I would go with a good efficient heritage breed or two, and add a few pullets each year to keep your production up. After two of three years, make soup out of the older hens. Like I said earlier, it all depends on the breed(s) you are keeping, and the flock management method. If you are just maintaining the flock for your family's use and not for selling eggs, it becomes easier asnd can be very rewarding.
     

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