How to tell which hens are laying well?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by WalkingOnSunshine, Feb 18, 2009.

  1. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Crowing

    Apr 8, 2008
    I have 23 free-range hens. I'd like to know, for flock management and breeding purposes, which hen lays which egg and how many they're laying each week. I'm out of ideas on how to accomplish this. I've thought of a video camera, but I'd have to watch hours upon hours of video for several days. I've also thought about putting a hen or two into a crate in the coop for a couple of days to see what I get, but I'm afraid that I'll stress them out so much that they'll be off their normal behavior.

    Has anyone else with larger numbers of free-range hens figured this out? It's only going to get worse when we double our numbers this spring.

    Thanks so much.
  2. I think the closest you`ll get to your goal, besides the hours and hours concept is to determine which hens are actually laying. This isn`t gonna tell you how many eggs or how pretty they are, but the method for determining a laying hen is simple. Pick them off the roost at night one by one. Over the vent are 2 pelvic bones. On a large hen, 3 fingers should be able to fit between those bones on a laying hen. If you can only fit 2 fingers, the hen is not laying. On a bantam, you have to consider the size of the hen and egg.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Akane

    Akane Crowing

    Jun 15, 2008
    In my encyclopedia of country living book there are plans for nest boxes with one way doors. Whenever you want to know who is laying and who isn't you put the doors on and see who's stuck in the nest boxes the next day. If you have a large flock and really want to keep egg production up you would then cull all the ones that are never in the nest boxes. You could probably band them with certain colors when you remove them from a box so that you could repeat it for several days and see who never goes in the box and who is in there the most. This doesn't for certain tell you who is laying since some may go in a box and not lay. Also some will lay outside while free ranging but if you were really looking at getting as many eggs as possible you would want to remove those birds anyway since they make it difficult to collect the eggs.
  4. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Crowing

    Apr 8, 2008
    The one-way door thing is an idea. Of course, I don't have one box per hen. I know that they were all laying this summer, as I'd often get one egg per bird. This winter is another story! We're down to 11/day if we're lucky!

    I promise I won't cull anyone who isn't laying just because it's winter (yet). I really want to cull some of my layers that are consistently giving me small eggs. We weigh eggs and have to sell the smalls off cheap. Also, we're moving into breeding our own replacements for a closed flock and I of course only want to breed the best layers with the nicest large eggs.

    What do folks think about putting something in the nest boxes that would get on feet/feathers? Could something like that help?

    eta: Of course, our EEs are the easiest. 3 EEs, 3 eggs every two days, even this winter. Those girls rock!
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2009
  5. gallo34

    gallo34 In the Brooder

    Feb 16, 2009
    keeping track of "free-range" is pretty you have a nest?

    you could tell alittle if you have a nest and some leg banding for I.D. --- the bird should return to the same lay the egg...if they are using the same nest...then you get floor eggs...I like the advice that Lollipop gave to you...also, putting them in a crate should not stress the hen...dont worry, even if you hear her cluck...just water and feed... leave her in there until you get an egg then let her night, find her again and put her back in the crate...don't be surprised if you get an egg every other day...with the I.D. you will be able to know which does lay an egg and which doesn't
  6. NEK38583

    NEK38583 Songster

    May 17, 2008
    Sparta, TN
    I don't think this would work for you since yours is free range, but my great-great aunt always told me to take you fist and if it would fit between your hens legs that means they are good layers. Not sure if it is true or not but she went by that. I hope that helps.

    NYREDS Crowing

    Jan 14, 2008
    It's easy. Say you have 10 hens & you are getting 7 eggs a day.
    On day 1 pick a hen & butcher her. The next day if you still get 7 eggs she wasn't laying-if you only get 6 eggs she was.
    Day 2 repeat & continue until you either have no hens or are getting no eggs.
    Wait, I just thought of a downside to this method. [​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  8. n-da-woods

    n-da-woods Songster

    Jan 18, 2009
    North Carolina
    Quote:Cool That is why I like BYC so much. You learn something new all the time.You can check Pigeons like that to see if they are male or female. Male pelvic bones almost together. Female pelvic bones 1 finger should be able to fit between those bones.
  9. har

    har Songster

    Jan 12, 2009
    I use the what I call the rooster method. If her feathers are rough or gone on her back that means the rooster is doing his job and she is laying. He will only mate with a laying hen. Also if the hen is all feathered and looks really good. I don't think she is doing her job.
  10. gckiddhouse

    gckiddhouse Songster

    Dec 9, 2008
    Desert Hills, AZ
    1 person likes this.

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