Molting, feed, lighting, get'm going again???

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by ourorrhome, Nov 30, 2016.

  1. ourorrhome

    ourorrhome New Egg

    Nov 30, 2016
    I have had my first layer hens since summer of 2015. On average they laid 5-6 eggs / day once in about a month a 7th Would come since they all got going mid summer to early fall that year. Late spring I had 1 go broody for me. Out of 15 eggs 7 stayed good (once she started setting I pushed every egg laid under till there was 15....
    2 babies died early, 5 others survived, and I bought 15 hatchlings that arrived 4 days later and she raised them all wonderfully.
    This early fall they got all shook up moving into a new "chicken yard and new "one room coop" 4'x10'
    Now I have have gone from 1 rooster, 7 hens to 3 roosters and 25 hens. (Well technically the new girls born in July are not laying yet so guess they are still pullets.)
    About early October and still now, the older hens (now into their second coming winter)
    Started loosing feathers. Not all at once, little patches at a time, some of them still having bald spots.
    For about a month and a half I get 1 to 7 eggs a week. Now I'm down to 1 egg about every three days.
    They are all on layer pellets mixed with corn and (was scratch grains, now wild bird seed. Thought the wild bird seed had more yummy in it for them).
    They have scratched their crab grass / clover yard bare after the first month & half ....
    There is mega worms, spiders, grubs n every other bug.... And they are always happily pecking n scratching.
    ... Love it when it rains best.... The bugs come up....
    Question 1 should I feeding them anything better to get them back to laying?
    Question 2---
    I have a solar LED light set up for them with a light red cloth rigged over the light.... (No power to my barns)
    It comes on at dark and seems to last till about midnight or so.
    Is this going to work for lighting? I never needed lighting last winter.
    Oh .... Yes, there are 2 windows to the complete building (10x14) one window in their section, one to the milk house section. .... But they get all the light the windows can bring in.

    Question 3---
    I use wood chips mostly, the bulding is insulated and I have scrape boards under the roost. So to take up and help close in the area I placed bales of straw under the scrape boards (still leaving wood chips in the main path and on the scrape boards....) I clean down the scrape boards often since this building is a duel purpose to my goat milking.... I can't have a strong Oder to leach into my milk....
    Oh I should also mention the roost has an interior roof as I have a loft 6' and up to peak to store wood chips and extra equipment.
    Should I do any more to prep them for cold?
    ...... Last year I had 8 chickens in a 3x5 coop.... N we did okay (but they where laying....) and I am down that I'm not getting them back into laying yet....

    My indoor water source for winter is a hanging bucket that has the nipples on the bottom it is wrapped in water heater insulation (plastic wrapped) with access to place a pocket warmer in a sock sleeve, in beside the bucket as needed.... Having a rubber dish under the bucket to catch drips and keep from wetting bedding on floor.
    I have seriously searched the forums the past 3 days to my questions but never got an answer exact to my questions.... I also read country side's chicken and gist articles, well .... Anything I can google really....
    I hope some of you can guide me?
    Thank you. And if I can figure out how I will try to take a newly updated pic of the coop in winter prep tomorrow n hopefully figure it how to post it....
    Thank you all!!!
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Hello and welcome to BYC - thanks for joining us. Sadly, since I live on the equator, i have no advice to give re: moulting or winters.

    These links may help to answer some of your questions -

    The Learning Centre is also a great resource -

    Maybe try searching for "supplemental light" using the search box - there are some recent threads on the topic, I seem to recall. Just seen this one -

    I'm sure that other greeters will be along soon who can help you out further.

    Best wishes

    Last edited: Dec 1, 2016
    2 people like this.
  3. N F C

    N F C phooey! Premium Member Project Manager

    Dec 12, 2013

    CTKen has given you some good links so I'll just say hello!
  4. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
  5. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    Greetings from Kansas and :welcome! Great to have you aboard. Looks like CTKen has loaded you up with great links so I'll just say best wishes and thanks for joining BYC! :yiipchick
  6. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    First of all, layer feed is for actively laying birds only. The calcium levels are not safe for non-laying birds. And the protein level in most layer feeds is inadequate for growing, developing birds and birds in molt. Corn and scratch are high in calorie, but low in protein. Use them sparingly, as an occasional treat. They could start eating eggs if they get too protein deficient. For you mixed flock, an unmedicated starter or grower feed would be a better choice of feed, with crushed oyster shell offered separately for those that are laying. You do not need layer feed to get eggs.
    Second, you didn't need lights last year because you were dealing with young pullets. The solar lights might work, or they may not.
    Third, the best winterizing you can do is providing ample ventilation. To prevent moisture and ammonia build up, lots of airflow above roosting level is essential. The worst thing you can do is keep things closed up tight all winter.
    Last of all, that coop space is MUCH too small. Overcrowding stress is serious. It can cause behavioral issues that are nearly impossible to stop, once started. Overcrowded birds get too stressed to lay. Your current coop area is big enough for 10 birds at most. You are well over twice that. Either expand that coop ASAP, or reduce your flock numbers. You can get away with a smaller space when some of the birds are young (and don't need as much space), and they have plenty of outdoor space, but come winter time there are going to be problems.
  7. RodNTN

    RodNTN Hatchaolic Premium Member

    May 22, 2013
    Serving Jesus
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC! [​IMG]
  8. CuzChickens

    CuzChickens CountryChick

    Apr 24, 2016
    Hello there, and welcome to Backyard Chickens! I am so glad you joined us, I do hope you will make yourself at home here. Enjoy BYC!
  9. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

    Jun 15, 2012
    Welcome to BYC! I'm glad you joined us! :)
  10. MasterOfClucker

    MasterOfClucker Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 19, 2016
    Welcome to BYC.

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