Hen started laying eggs, question about food intake

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by byouland, Oct 2, 2013.

  1. byouland

    byouland In the Brooder

    Jun 8, 2013
    My Red Sussex hen started laying eggs last week. We have noticed that her intake in food has increased (which we had expected). But it's increased to the point that she is eating bugs that she never showed interest in before, such as worms, and stink bugs.She searches frantically around the yard for any kind of bug. I'm curious if she is lacking something in her diet, or if this is normal behavior? She eats poultry food for laying hens, crushed corn, sunflower seeds, oatmeal, and fruit. I have even boiled her an egg for the extra protein. I am concerned because although her food intake has increased, she is still very small. Should I be adding something to her diet, or is there something else going on?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Try subtracting something from the diet, like the corn. Corn is only 10% protein at best. Oats are a bit higher and sunflower is very high in protein. They live for bugs.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013
  3. write2caroline

    write2caroline Songster

    Jun 21, 2009
    Chickens are good foragers and those bugs won't hurt her. When they eat greens and forage their yolks get almost orange. The yolks on just feed are much lighter in color. Some chickens are more into foraging than others. My buff orps were just happy to eat at the feeder but my RIR were always hunting for more to the point that I brought in a bug filled log and they tore it apart.

  4. Teri Metcalf

    Teri Metcalf Songster

    Aug 22, 2013
    College Station, Texas
    Greetings from College Station, Texas. We give our girls some cracked corn & sunflower seeds, and all our food scraps. The rest of the time they forage. They especially love scratching in the compost for all kinds of bugs and other delicacies. I don't even buy pellets any more.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Don’t worry about the size thing too much. Even with the same breed you can get quite a bit of difference in size. Often the smaller hens are better layers than the bigger ones. They are more efficient in converting feed to eggs since they don’t have to maintain that bigger body.

    Some hens just like to forage better than others. Some like bugs better than others. And yes, her eating will go up when she starts laying. Maybe 3% to 4% of her body weight goes into every egg she lays. She has to eat. Nothing you have mentioned sounds at all strange or unusual.

    I will throw out a comment though. Hens that are laying need extra calcium for the egg shells. If all they eat is Layer, they get the calcium they need from that. If they forage, they get some calcium from certain plants they eat. If your local rock is limestone or otherwise contains calcium they will get extra calcium from the rocks they use as grit. And they can get extra calcium from some of the bugs and other creepy crawlies they eat, especially hard-shelled bugs.

    How are the egg shells on her eggs? Are they nice and firm or kind of thin? Do you offer oyster shell on the side?

    I really don’t think you have a problem, but if the egg shells are kind of thin, she might be looking for extra calcium in those bugs. Some hens’ bodies convert calcium better than others. I think she just really has a strong prey drive and really likes to chase those bugs, but offering oyster shell on the side wouldn’t hurt.
  6. byouland

    byouland In the Brooder

    Jun 8, 2013
    Ridgerunner, the eggs shells are pretty firm. Someone had mentioned that she could have worms because of her intake and her size. I've been checking and haven't seen any worms. Overall she looks very healthy, just smaller in size. Her eggs taste wonderful, and look great in color. Every day she has been laying an egg for me, and yes she is still eating tons of bugs.

    I'm excited to finally have eggs. I have four hens, and she is the first one to be laying eggs for me. She is very vocal before she is about to lay and egg. When she is about to go into her coop, she makes sure everyone is aware of what's going on. It's actually pretty funny. [​IMG]
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    What breed is she? Do you have a picture? Some breeds are just smaller.

    If she's healthy, active and laying well, I can't imagine she has worms. Everything you've said sounds normal to me.
  8. byouland

    byouland In the Brooder

    Jun 8, 2013

    Here is a picture of her. She just turned 6 months old.

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