Good Article about Managing a Small Laying Flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by triplepurpose, Dec 15, 2015.

  1. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I found this article both entertaining and insightful. This would be helpful especially for newbies looking to establish a flock in a productive and manageable way. Too often people just get a bunch of chickens all at once, and then find themselves with far too many eggs for a while, followed by not enough as the hens age. you see the same feast-and-famine pattern with many first-time vegetable gardens too, where people dint have the experience or the info to plan proper succession planting and rotation system. So its nice to find an article outlining in an accessible way the importance of staggering production and how to do it in a way that makes keeping a small flock profitable!

    Simple stuff really when you think about it, but important...

    Enjoy:

    http://www.nwedible.com/chicken-rotation-optimizing-for-year-round-laying-from-the-backyard-flock/
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    If you are not raising your own, you could do different breeds and different egg colors. So year one, do brown eggs breeds, year two do white egg breed, and year three do green egg breeds. Then you will be able to keep count just eggactly who is laying and who is not!

    Mrs K
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Or if you want to keep track of their ages, red hens year one, yellow breeds year two, black in year three, and finish up year four with white.
     
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Alas, long range planning always gets thrown to the wind for me, as in last year, I was definitely going with some Buckeye's but then got a chance to get a beautiful Beilfelder rooster!

    The important lesson is to have a multigenerational flock, and to remember, even with the best of plans, sometimes the wrong chicken dies!

    Mrs K
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Or a hatch that is supposed to provide new replacement pullets doesn’t happen or turn out the way you want. Or a selected pullet demonstrated genetics or behavior I don’t want in my flock. I try to follow that three year rotation but even when I hatch a lot of chicks it doesn’t always work out the way I plan. You need a plan but you really have to be flexible. This is one of those flexible years.
     
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Ridgerunner - you must have had a wreck!

    Yep be flexible, I finally have a multigenerational flock, but I am still eggless and suppose I will be for the next 4 weeks! ugh!

    Mrs K
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Triplepurpose, sorry for hijacking the thread but I’ll do it anyway.

    Since I wanted a new rooster for genetic purposes, I got 20 Buff Rock cockerels in February, no pullets. I normally hatch in February or March anyway but substituted this order. So I had a lot of chicken in the freezer and a new flock master but no early hatched pullets.

    I was planning on another incubator hatch in April/May but things happened. Throughout the year I had a death in the family and two family medical emergencies that caused unplanned travel. I already had a vacation planned and babysat my granddaughter in her home for a couple of weeks. It’s hard to gather eggs and incubate them if you are not around. Plus I like to take care of the chicks myself the first three weeks or so. So what little schedule I had was all messed up.

    I had a hen go broody in May and timed the hatch for when my Granddaughter was visiting. A very thin-shelled egg broke and coated most of the other eggs. Instead of cleaning up and starting over like I knew I should I tried to baby those eggs along hoping to get at least one or two to hatch while she was here. Nope, I recorded my first ever total broody failure. If I’d been clever I’d have had a few eggs in the incubator too.

    I finally got a different broody to hatch, I think in July, nine chicks. Seven were cockerels, two pullets. Normally I’m happy with mostly cockerels but I could have really used pullets. Those two pullets are 23 weeks old and have not started to lay. Maybe soon. I also had a hatch of 11 chicks that are now 13 weeks old, five pullets. If I’m lucky they will start laying in February.

    I have six older hens, all molting and not laying. Normally three of them would have been retired last fall when they started to molt, but I’ll need them for hatching eggs in February. When I get back from my Christmas trip right after Christmas I’ll extend the light and hopefully start them laying in time. I had another that showed some traits I did not want to breed into my flock. I should have had three older and four younger hens but not this year. Each hatching egg is going to be precious in February.

    Some of it was my fault, some bad luck. So far I’ve managed to keep enough chicken in the freezer that we haven’t run out, but that luck will probably run out late spring.

    Things don’t always work out as you plan.
     
  8. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well im sure we can all agree that plans often dont pan out... our flock has never been as systematic as she describes.

    part of the issue in our case is that until recently the only reliable source of chicks, at least if uou wanted any kind of selection, was to mail order them, which necessitated buying 25+ at once unless you could find someone to split an order with. kind of throws a wrench in the 3 year rotation scheme, unless we wanted 50 to 75 chickens (um, noooo)! recently tho, some folks started a mini hatchery locally. assuming we have a good experience with them and their chicks this year, it'll open up the option of getting smaller numbers of chicks on a more frequent basis, which would be nice and both more productive and more manageable for us. plus it always feels good to support a local family business.
     
  9. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    The only thing I could see wrong with the article is that the method isn't very self sustaining and relies upon outside resources to replenish the flock. Just replacing the flock with new chicks sporadically isn't what I'd call managing a small laying flock, that's buying a small laying flock on a regular basis. Managing one would indicate that one was actually producing or making something work within a small flock, such as one would do by breeding their hens, having them brood and hatch their own replacements and doing this every year to have a rolling, producing flock.

    That takes management. The other method is just killing spent hens and getting replacements in a timely fashion. We did that all the while I was growing up and it doesn't take much managing, just collecting eggs, killing hens, buying chicks and doing it all over again.
     
  10. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I see your point, Beekiss, but I would put forth that in a small flock, like the one I have, it is difficult to produce a really great birds with limited genetic of a small flock. I often bring in either chicks to add to the ones I have hatched, or a new rooster. The thing is to actually get four new hens, you might need to hatch at least 12 chicks, as this year, I got only 3 pullets out of 11 chicks.

    So yes I strive for you idea of management, but I often fall short.

    Mrs K
     

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