Layer or Liar?

ChickensAhoy

In the Brooder
May 4, 2017
12
8
29
Western South Dakota, USA
My Coop
My Coop
Forgive me for not finding this through the search function. I think I'm looking for reassurance more than anything.

I have read Gail Damerow's Guide to Raising Chickens and watched a couple YouTube videos, but I am TERRRIFIED of messing up. I took over a flock of nearly 40 hens, but at most only get 24 eggs a day, so there are a good many that I don't think are laying, and I have no desire to continue feeding free-loaders in a commercial flock.

Is it as easy as it sounds to feel the pubic bones and abdomen to determine good vs poor layer? Would I be better off converting the nest boxes to trap nests and tracking them that way (banding the layers)? Anyone want to come hold my hand?
 

Mace Gill

Songster
May 26, 2017
591
891
186
New Jersey
Forgive me for not finding this through the search function. I think I'm looking for reassurance more than anything.

I have read Gail Damerow's Guide to Raising Chickens and watched a couple YouTube videos, but I am TERRRIFIED of messing up. I took over a flock of nearly 40 hens, but at most only get 24 eggs a day, so there are a good many that I don't think are laying, and I have no desire to continue feeding free-loaders in a commercial flock.

Is it as easy as it sounds to feel the pubic bones and abdomen to determine good vs poor layer? Would I be better off converting the nest boxes to trap nests and tracking them that way (banding the layers)? Anyone want to come hold my hand?
I promise you that the roosters are not laying :p

Kidding aside ... do you know the ages of the hens? After three years old, laying slows down but doesn't mean that it has stopped. Also, hens will stop laying for other reasons ... molting, disruption in the politics, change of feed, too hot out, or dead of winter ... depends on a million factors.

If you're looking to thin out the freeloaders, I'd go with the trap nests, but even then, once you've separated out the freeloaders, watch them for a while ... see if any have issues that can be dealt with.
 

ChickensAhoy

In the Brooder
May 4, 2017
12
8
29
Western South Dakota, USA
My Coop
My Coop
Hens don't lay every day. If a hen lays 5 eggs a week then out of 7 hens you would (mathematically) average 5 eggs per day. With 40 hens isf they were all laying (and some may not be) that's 25 to possibly 27 eggs per day. So 24 eggs isn't that far off.
Well that is actually quite reassuring. I have two white egg layers, and the rest are all brown, so I have some direct observation of the not laying every day. I may just single out the hens with bright yellow legs and check them. Makes it easier than going through the whole flock. (I have 39 hens and 1 rooster.)
 

ChickensAhoy

In the Brooder
May 4, 2017
12
8
29
Western South Dakota, USA
My Coop
My Coop
I promise you that the roosters are not laying :p

Kidding aside ... do you know the ages of the hens? After three years old, laying slows down but doesn't mean that it has stopped. Also, hens will stop laying for other reasons ... molting, disruption in the politics, change of feed, too hot out, or dead of winter ... depends on a million factors.

If you're looking to thin out the freeloaders, I'd go with the trap nests, but even then, once you've separated out the freeloaders, watch them for a while ... see if any have issues that can be dealt with.
39 hens and 1 rooster. These gals are all right at 1.5 years old. When I took over, they said they were consistently getting 16-22 eggs a day, which is pretty in line with what I've been getting. I did manage to disrupt them for a few days by cleaning the barn right before a cold snap, but egg production has rebounded to what it was before. We're in the spring/summer transition right now, and I've kept them on the same feed.
 

wynn4578

Songster
Apr 6, 2015
412
153
131
Oklahoma
I promise you that the roosters are not laying :p

Kidding aside ... do you know the ages of the hens? After three years old, laying slows down but doesn't mean that it has stopped. Also, hens will stop laying for other reasons ... molting, disruption in the politics, change of feed, too hot out, or dead of winter ... depends on a million factors.

If you're looking to thin out the freeloaders, I'd go with the trap nests, but even then, once you've separated out the freeloaders, watch them for a while ... see if any have issues that can be dealt with.

The short of it, stress factors. What types of hens do you have? Some hens are laying machines, others are more along the lines of 'well it's been a few days think I might go lay an egg today'.
 

ChickensAhoy

In the Brooder
May 4, 2017
12
8
29
Western South Dakota, USA
My Coop
My Coop
The short of it, stress factors. What types of hens do you have? Some hens are laying machines, others are more along the lines of 'well it's been a few days think I might go lay an egg today'.
The "commercial" hens are all Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks. There are also a Blue Andulasian, Silver Laced Wyandotte, mystery "Giant Barred Something" (maybe a Giant Cochin? I don't know), and a Black Sex-Link. As far as I know, these random ladies are the same age as the RIR & BR.
 

Mace Gill

Songster
May 26, 2017
591
891
186
New Jersey
The short of it, stress factors. What types of hens do you have? Some hens are laying machines, others are more along the lines of 'well it's been a few days think I might go lay an egg today'.
Breed and feed I think are the biggest factors ... especially since your hens are 1.5 years old (prime time) ... if you're controlling the daylight hours, etc, leghorns are probably best (disclaimer, I am NOT a commercial egg farmer and am against battery cages) ... if you're doing pasture raised with no industrial controls, Australorps are probably best (another disclaimer, I LOVE Australorps).

About stress ... happy, healthy chickens lay happy, healthy eggs. Layer feed, forage, freedom, and security is what they want most. Mainstay of the diet should be good feed. Forage is great ... as much as they can get, and you go through less feed that way. A safe coop and foraging area away from predators, and having a rooster helps them feel more secure as well. Make sure they have calcium available (oyster shells, and you can grind up egg shells too), and have grit available.
 

Mace Gill

Songster
May 26, 2017
591
891
186
New Jersey
The "commercial" hens are all Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks. There are also a Blue Andulasian, Silver Laced Wyandotte, mystery "Giant Barred Something" (maybe a Giant Cochin? I don't know), and a Black Sex-Link. As far as I know, these random ladies are the same age as the RIR & BR.
Sounds like you inherited a casual flock and you're trying to move them to commercial. As you go forward, choose the breed of your replacement chickens well ... depends on your climate, goals, etc.
 

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