my 18 month old red sexlink

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by QSTARBIRD, Oct 3, 2015.

  1. QSTARBIRD

    QSTARBIRD Out Of The Brooder

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    i have 10 hens. 4 out of the 10 red sexlink are sleeping on there nest. is this nomal. what should i do? cover the nest at night?
     
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    You need to break that habit asap.....
    .....or deal with poopy eggs and/or daily change of bedding in nests.

    Roosts should be about 1 foot higher than nests, they like to roost(sleep) as high as possible.

    1 foot of roost length per bird gives them plenty of room to get settled,
    they may sleep in less space but need the extra room to navigate the bedtime pecking order scuffles.

    Roosts should be easy to get up to, and down from without crashing into a wall or jumping too far onto a hard surface.

    You can move birds out of nests and onto roost after dark until they get the idea.
    I rigged a hinged board that I put down over nest openings just before dusk,
    then raise back up just after dark when I close the pop doors.
     
  3. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

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    In agreeance with aart...

    Just adding that I have a separate roost from the nesting boxes, but I do have a couple that like to roost on the top of the nesting boxes, but they can't sleep IN them because they're covered, in a shelving unit type structure. The nesting boxes on the top also have roosts. So, even when they do sit on the top of the boxes, they sit on a 2x4 that I screwed on the front, 2" out from the box, and they poop between the roost and the nest boxes, straight onto the floor instead. :)

    No poopy eggs! ;)
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    At 18 months they are set in their habits. If they were juveniles I’d answer differently.

    How big is your coop? More important how much roost space do you have and how is it arranged? Did they all grow up together or are these later additions? Have these always slept in the nests?

    My chickens are most brutal to each other on the roosts at night. Daytime it’s not a problem at all, but where they roost is based on the pecking order. The ones higher in the pecking order get to sleep where they want but they can be fairly brutal about getting the others out of their way.

    I’ve also seen a hen leave her normal roosting area to purposely go attack chickens lower in the pecking order as they were settling in for the night. That hen is normally fairly low in the pecking order herself and appears jealous of her little bit of status. With mine it’s normally not the dominant hens going out of their way to be brutal. This is normally when I’m integrating younger chickens but it can happen if they are all the same age. Some are slower to mature and some bully more than others. Chicken society can get pretty complicated.

    I’ve had chickens stop roosting on the roosts and look for safer place to spend the night because of this. That might be the nests or some other spot in the coop. I’ve had chickens totally leave the coop and start sleeping outside to get away from a bully. By the time all hens are mature and the pecking order is set this type of bullying should stop but each chicken is an individual and each flock has its own dynamics.

    My advice will be similar but slightly different to Aart’s. Instead of looking at so many inches of roost space per bird, look at whether a bird has room to get away from a bully. That has to do with layout as much as pure roost space though longer roosts help. At 18 months the bullying is probably over but if you have room, I’d suggest putting up a separate roost horizontally separated a bit from the main roosts, a bit lower than the main roosts to discourage the older chickens from switching to the new roosts, but clearly higher than the nests. I did that and have nine three-month-olds using it right now instead of the nests although there is plenty of roost space on the main roosts. I have two tree branches stretching across the coop and the adults are only using one of those. The other main roost is totally clear but the same height and only separated horizontally by a foot or so. Too close for comfort.

    I agree that after it is too dark for them to see their way back to the nests, start putting them on the roosts where you want them to sleep. If you can close off the nests after they have all laid for the day and open them back up before they are ready to lay the next day, I’d do that. If the nests are closed they have to sleep somewhere else. They are creatures of habit and their habit is now your nests. Even if their new habit is not on the roosts somewhere not in the nests should be OK.

    This kind of problem is normally more of an adolescent problem than for a mature flock but I think yours just got stuck in a rut unless this is new behavior. If it is new behavior have you made any changes lately, either changes to the coop or to flock membership?
     
  5. QSTARBIRD

    QSTARBIRD Out Of The Brooder

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    The 4 hens started doing this for 1 week now I'm start covering the nest before it gets dark. Will take pic soon of my setup. I will try to put more roost up. When should my hens. Lay eggs I'm thinking 1st week of November.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    It sounds like these are 18 week old pullets, not 18 month old hens like it says in your title. 18 months just didn’t sound right for that behavior. How old are the rest of your flock? Have these four pullets ever roosted? It sounds like other pullets or hens beating up on immature pullets to me. Those pullets will be able to force their way into the pecking order when they mature enough and this problem could be over. If they are all 18 weeks old some are probably going through hormonal changes as they get close to maturing and that can sometimes make them pretty mean and grouchy. They mature at different rates.

    Mine normally mature enough to do that when they start to lay. So when do they start to lay? Good question, I wish I knew. The days are getting shorter which doesn’t help. But red sex links normally lay really well. They can easily ignore the days getting shorter and start to lay at any time, tomorrow or more than a month from now. Maybe not until spring and the days are getting longer and warmer. If yours are like mine I’d expect you to see some of those pullet eggs in less than a month. But I’ve had some wait until spring too. There is no way to know for sure.
     
  7. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

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    Depends on where you are, but RSLs are pretty early layers, around 18 weeks. Sunlight is waning here, so it might lag a little depending on your season, but they should lay through winter in most areas except extreme north; they're pretty hardy :)
     
  8. QSTARBIRD

    QSTARBIRD Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm from Ohio, sorry guys my hens are 18weeks I'm new this whole thing.. and sunset around 7:20 how many hours does chicken needs to lay eggs
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Sometimes first year layers will lay all winter without supplemental lighting, sometimes they won't.
    Older layers need 14-16 hours of light to lay regularly thru winter. Last winter I used a 40 watt incandescent light(this year I am using a CFL) that comes on early in the morning to provide 14-15 hours of light and they go to roost with the natural sundown. Last year I started the lighting increase a bit late(mid October), the light should be increased slowly, and the pullets didn't start laying until late December. Here's a pretty good article on supplemental lighting. Some folks think that using lighting shortens the years a hen will lay, I don't agree with that theory but I also plan to cull my older hens for soup at about 3 years old
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I know this is long, my posts often are. I’ll put the summary up front. They do not need a specific length of daylight to lay. Although the days getting longer and shorter have a big influence, especially on mature hens, I’d expect most of your RSL pullets to start laying fairly soon whether you add extra light or not, but adding extra light can go a long way toward getting them started. As long as you allow them to molt every 12 to 18 months, adding supplemental light does not harm them.

    Now I’ll justify my summary. And don’t worry about that months/weeks thing. I’ve done much worse.

    Here’s the response I got when I questioned a poultry reproductive specialist about a hen running out of ova that develop into eggs.

    Yes, a young Pullet chick hatches with a determinant number of follicles on her left ovary that are possible to be developed to become one of the yolk or ova in an egg. Only the left ovary develops in most avian species so anything on the right ovary never develops and is of no use. So can a hen theoretically 'run out of' potential follicles? Yes she can and this does occur on occasion. It happens often in parrots that may live 70, 80 or even up to 100 years of age. These hens that run out of follicles are referred to as 'slick hens' as the ovaries are often checked by veterinarians and confirmed that they are indeed 'slick' hens with 'slick ovaries' that have no more follicles to develop.

    So does this happen often in chickens? Not really that often because most of our domestic chickens do not live long enough to run out of follicles, they 'run out of gas' in other ways much sooner. This could be some other disease or infection or condition related to extended periods of laying that might either cause death or an inability to produce and develop proper shells on an egg.

    So in short, yes it's possible but unlikely for a chicken to become 'slick' and run out of follicles.

    Keith Bramwell
    Dept of Poultry Science
    University of Arkansas


    That’s a good article that Aart linked to. I’ll make a couple of comments on it.

    First, Dr. Petrik puts a requirement on what he says. The hens have to molt every 12 to 18 months. If they are not allowed to molt that changes what he said.

    He mentioned that to keep your hens laying you need to keep their day longer than 13 to 14 hours but that they will stay in production in less light than that if they are not exposed to the longer days of their summer, wherever he and the author of that article are located. It’s not the length of day that is so important, it’s whether the days are getting longer or shorter or technically whether the nights are getting longer or shorter. It’s the dark period getting longer that triggers the molt and they stop laying.

    Qstarbird, in Ohio your longest day is going to be somewhere around 15 hours, your shortest maybe 9 to 9-1/2 hours. There is a forum member in Pennsylvania, which has about the same day length as you, that provides 14 hours of light and her hens still normally molt. That one hour loss of light is normally enough to trigger a molt for her in her older hens.

    The main point of all this is that if you provide extra light then it is important when you start and stop it. If you stop it before the natural length of day matches the amount of light they are seeing, you can trigger a molt, even in the middle of spring when they should be laying like gangbusters.

    As Aart said, pullets in their first year often lay throughout their first winter without extra light. Most of mine normally do but they always molt in their second fall/winter. I do not provide supplemental light and my shortest day is 9 hours 40 minutes.

    When will yours start to lay? I don’t know. I’ve had plenty of pullets start this time of year with the days still getting shorter. A couple of times I’ve had pullets start to lay in early December, the shortest days of the year. Obviously those didn’t need 14 or 15 hours of light a day to lay eggs. I’ve had hatch mates of those wait until the days are getting longer in the spring to start. It does vary by individual. With RSL’s yours should tend to start when they are mature enough regardless of length of day but these things don’t come with guarantees.

    One strategy you might want to employ is to pick a day and start extending the length of day gradually to start them laying. As Dr Petrik said they might need several weeks to make the changes internally to prepare to lay, but if they are getting ready this can kick start them pretty quickly. Remember to maintain that day length until the natural day length is the same. It will require regular adjustment. Many people don’t do that and still don’t trigger a molt when they stop the extra light, but sometimes it does.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015

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