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How long do you keep your layers?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by harleyjo, Mar 29, 2012.

  1. harleyjo

    harleyjo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you are primarily wanting a good layer flock how old are your layers when you either sell them or cull them to freezer camp?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Different people have different methods. I rotate my hens. Say you want a laying flock of 8 hens. This spring, bring in 4 pullets. They will start laying sometime in the late summer or early fall and should lay all through winter without molting and keep laying next summer. You keep those 4 and the next spring bring in 4 more. These lay throughout the winter when the other 4 molt and quit laying. But they will fire up really well the following spring. You keep all 8 and bring in 4 more pullets the third spring. These do the winter laying thing, but the 8 older ones you have will lay pretty darn well until the molt. When they molt and quit laying, remove the 4 oldest hens.

    You have now set up a rotation where you always have pullets that will lay through out the winter and you get the benefit of having the older hens with the larger eggs laying during the good weather. They never get old enough to not lay well. That's the theory I use anyway. Others will do it differently.
     
  3. billyb

    billyb Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's exactly what I do but I keep a flock of 10 or 12. That's what I think is the best idea too!
     
  4. harleyjo

    harleyjo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is what I have done so far. I have a little larger flock, between 20 to 30 layers. I started with 14 my first year. Last spring and summer I got about 15 more. So now I am starting my 3rd spring with my first year flock and am wondering if later this year when chicks that I am raising now get to laying age if that is when I should cull my first year birds.

    I have also noticed I am getting more and more 'white" egg shells from my brown egg layers and wonder if it is my older hens running down....
     
  5. billyb

    billyb Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They might not be getting enough calcium, maybe give them some more oyster shells, DO NOT GIVE THEM MILK IF YOU HEARBTHAT SOMEWHERE. It's not healthy for them. Also what does cull mean??
     
  6. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Cull simply means "to remove". That is all it means. Often it is used here to refer to slaughtering, killing or dispatching. Dispatching is indeed removing them, or culling them, but we cull from our breeding stock and sometimes kill, sell, or gift to someone.

    When a brown egg layer starts to lay white eggs it merely means the "ink jets" aren't applying the thin brown coating. This is sometimes a sign of weariness, but not always. Sometimes it means absolutely nothing.

    Adding dietary calcium will potentially harden the egg shell itself, but will do nothing for the pigmentation.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2012
  7. billyb

    billyb Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What do you mean by weariness?
     
  8. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    No chicken can remain in full lay mode indefinitely. Typically, a bird will lay for "a season". That can mean for 6 months for a heavy bird or up to a year for a light weight, top laying breed. Then, the hen takes a break. She often molts and re-charges her system. She rests. Her dietary protein mostly goes into re-growing her feathers, not into egg laying. Once she recovers from her break, she usually resumes laying. The subsequent season often produces slightly larger, higher quality eggs, but fewer of them.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Something that happens with some hens, especially hens with yellow legs, vents, and such. They draw pigment from those parts to put on their eggs. They get some from what they eat too, but the longer they lay, the lighter the eggs sometimes become. When they molt and stop laying, they regain their leg color, so when they start to lay after a molt their eggs are back to a real pretty brown color.

    I see that especially with my pullets that lay through their first winter and keep laying all the next season until Fall. By the time they get to their first adult molt, their eggs are almost white. Then when they start laying after that molt, their eggs are a nice brown again.

    Fred, you're pretty up on commercial operations. Do you know if there are any additives in the feed specifically for that pigment?
     
  10. harleyjo

    harleyjo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think it is my very first pullets from 2010, my black sex links that are losing the egg color.
     

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