How to know when it's time

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by horsechicklc, Dec 12, 2014.

  1. horsechicklc

    horsechicklc New Egg

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    Feb 20, 2014
    My husband and I will be buying wyandotte chicks in march or April next year. We will be getting dual purpose birds. The problem that we had with our 11 chickens this year was as soon as it got cold, they all stopped laying eggs. We got the chickens from a nearby farm, and we weren't sure how old they were. So, all the birds were sent off to the butcher because we (my husband) didn't want to buy organic feed for birds that weren't laying any eggs. My husband wants to do the same thing this year, buy the chicks, raise them through the spring, butcher them in the fall. But wouldn't that be a waste because the birds will not be in peak laying age until 1 or 2 years old? I'm hoping so, because I would love to have the chickens around for a while :)
     
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Practically all chickens either stop or slow down production when the days start getting shorter. Pullets in their first year of laying (those less than a year old) should lay through the winter. (That having been said, I have two that were hatched in May, started laying in Oct. and quit when we had a sudden drop in temperature.) Most chickens will lay well through their second year before production drops dramatically. At least that's been my experience.
     
  3. ECBW

    ECBW Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My experience has been that there is no hard and fast rules. Generally, they lay consistently through the first year with help of supplemental light in the winter. After the first year, they stop laying to molt, then return to lay at slower rate. Egg farmers typically change out the flock at this time.

    They are not machines, so cant expect a firm schedule. This year, my early-April chicks did not lay until late November while it used to be 6 months in past years.

    PS. They also can be jolted with stress of various kinds and stop laying to recover.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2014
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    As a general rule, it goes something like this...

    buy chicks March 15. They start laying in Sept-ish 2015. They'll lay continuously through the first winter until fall 16, when they molt and take a break for the winter. They'll start laying again spring 17 and lay until fall 17, when again they molt and take a break. This is for hatchery production-based birds, ornamentals and some other breeds don't lay as well

    Some folks are okay overwintering hens that aren't producing, some aren't. Some use artificial light to stimulate egg production, which is based on length of daylight, not temperature. I wouldn't buy chicks in March and butcher the hens in October the same year, you'll barely get any production out of them.

    If the price of the organic feed is a driving force for him, perhaps you can compromise on a conventional feed? Or look into fermented feed or a fodder system. Our "Feeding and Watering your Flock" section has many, many threads about alternative feeding.
     
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  5. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    As always, great advice!
     
  6. horsechicklc

    horsechicklc New Egg

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    Feb 20, 2014
    Thank you all!!! I am going to see if we can do the fodder system. My husband has experience with that because we were researching it for our cow :) I will let him know about the light! That's a great idea that I hadn't thought about!!! Would leaving a light on affect any heavier winter plumage coming in? Or would that happen in the fall molt?
     

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