Four questions about egg-laying and feed

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by fch, Sep 2, 2009.

  1. fch

    fch Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 29, 2009
    Hello! We are having fun with our two Red Star hens that we got as chicks back in March. We've started with two because we live smack dab in the middle of the city (Des Moines). They've been laying since July. They love to eat, range around the garden, and seem to be happy, curious birds. Here are my questions:

    1) I've read here that soft shells, double-yolkers, etc., are normal for starting layers (like, the first 2 weeks), but it seems that even now, if we feed the girls too many treats (steel-cut oats, or elderberries, which they are LOVING right now) on any day, the shells of the next day's eggs will be either wrinkled (http://www.flickr.com/photos/friuduric/3881387632/) or completely soft. I am guessing that's because they aren't eating enough of their Layena feed. Is that a reasonable assumption, or could there be a deeper problem?

    2) We're still seeing double-yolkers every now and again. Are we doing something to urge this behavior? Or could that hen just be predisposed to double-yolked eggs?

    3) One of the girls lays speckled eggs from time to time (Red Stars lay brown eggs). At first I thought it was cute, but in running my nail over the speckles, I think it may be dried blood (or dried bloody film) (here is what yesterday's looks like: http://www.flickr.com/photos/friuduric/3881387818/

    Again
    , the girls are both active and happy-seeming. Is this something I should worry about? If so, what can I do about it?

    4) After reading the forums here, it looks like the recommendation for pet birds is to let them stop laying over the winter (since it's stressful for them, and their body needs the rest). The local feed store sells two kids of chicken feed: Layena, which is higher in calcium, for laying birds; and Growena (I can't actually remember the name, but it is for pre-laying young birds), which is a bit higher in protein. If we'll be letting them rest over the winter and not force 12-hour light, which feed should we be giving them?

    Thank you!

    Frederique
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    This site might help you with the specific egg questions.

    Egg Quality Handbook
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/ourbooks/1/egg-quality-handbook/

    I'd give them the option of oyster shell free choice. If they need the calcium, they may eat the oyster shell even if they don't eat their layer feed. I think this could cause the rough shells and the soft shells.

    I'd think the double yolks are probably because the hens are predisposed to lay double yolks.
     
  3. Uppity Peon

    Uppity Peon Chillin' With My Peeps

    I think you may be right. Make sure the bulk of their nutrition comes from the Layena. Treats are fun, but you might want to add some oyster shell.

    I put a pile of oyster shell out and it looks as if the rooster is pigging out on it! [​IMG]
     

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