Hens + 15 wks..eating each others' feed..now eggs smaller??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by kimntep, Jun 11, 2011.

  1. kimntep

    kimntep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I thought it would be ok to integrate and they seem to be doing fine, but eggs are def smaller. The little ones have been on starter/grower crumbles and hens on layer pellets and they seem to be eating more of each others' feed than their own. I have oyster shell out daily, too, but my eggs have gotten quite a bit smaller in the last two weeks. Should I go back to keeping them separated and only free ranging together? It's not difficult, I just thought it was time..maybe too soon??
     
  2. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Its probably a combination of things I would put it back the way you had it & when the others start eating the same food try it again. Thats my thoughts.
     
  3. kimntep

    kimntep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That was my initial thought, but I didn't want to jump the gun. Any thoughts on when I should try again? Maybe not till after the pullets start laying?
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    If you have had a successful integration, I'd be careful about going back to the way things were if that is going to involve another integration later. But if you are managing them in a way that this is not a concern, keeping them separated is one solution. Keep in mind though that when you disrupt the pecking order, some hens may stop or slow down laying until the pecking order is reestablished.

    How can you go back to keepig them separated so they don't eat each others food but let them free range together? Are you restricting them away from their food for part of the day? Just trying to figure out what might be the problem and not clearly understanding what is going on. What else is different from before when you were getting the larger eggs?

    The Starter/Grower Crumbles should have more protein than the Layer, probably 20% where the Layer is probably around 16%. The more protein they eat, the larger the egg should be. So if they are eating a substantial part of the Starter/Grower crumbles, the eggs should be getting larger, not smaller. This part does not sound right. Is there something else going on so they are foraging for more of their food and depending on the processed food less?

    A standards way to feed a mixed age flock that includes laying hens is to give them all Grower with oyster shell on the side. The only significant difference in Grower and Layer is the extra calcium, which growing chicks should not have. This way the laying hens can get calcium from the oyster shells if they need it and the ones that don't need the extra calcium don't get it.

    Good luck!
     
  5. kimntep

    kimntep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ocala, Florida
    Quote:Thanks for such helpful insight! Their area is L shaped, with the coop in the middle. The hens' yard is out front and the pullets off of the side. They could see each other for weeks, but not intermingle until we cut a large pop door on the pullets' side of the coop about 2 weeks ago. It has worked beautifully and they all get along well, for the most part of course, when they are free ranging all over the property. Out and about is ok, but when they are locked up, the hens seem to keep the pullets confined to inside the coop (where I fear it can get too hot) so that they can dominate both runs as they please and eat all of their crumbles. Not a lot of squabbling going on, but a definite pecking order is being established. Most days it's about 1/3, 1/3 and 1/3..part all intermingled but locked up, part in their separate areas locked up and part free ranging together. I guess I'll stick to that!
     

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