Need some advise for breeds.

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by teaton, Jan 4, 2017.

  1. teaton

    teaton Chillin' With My Peeps

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    2 years ago I started out with chickens for the first time ever. I had a plan, I wanted a good dual purpose breed that would give me year round eggs and dress out nicely for the table. I did my homework and decided rhode island reds were for me!!! However I didnt do enough homework to know that if you buy them from most feed stores, hatcheries or backyard sellers more than likely your getting a production red. No biggy I had a set of 4 and I was impressed with thier size, feed ration, and egg laying ability. I consistently got an extra large egg everyday all year round. Boy was I happy so happy I decided to expand, purchase more coops, more birds and even started a small business selling eggs.

    Well this year weve had a complete turn around. Now we have 14 free loading hens, out of those 14 laying hens Im down to about 3 eggs every other day. Someone has told me the production and hybrid birds were bred to only be good layers for thier first year. That doesnt really do me any good unless I plan on butchering all every year and starting over but even then id have to plan my hatch dates around that and pray Im not in the same situation.

    So Im looking at adding another breed to our farm, and maybe potentially one day as a replacement. I want a good year round layer, that has a good laying season(now that I know thats important) I also want a decent size meat bird. At first I thought speckled sussex, but they dont lay through winter at all, Ive considered Orphingtons, and Australorps too.

    But I really just want other peoples opinions based on what they have or have had and what has works best for them. Rather than going off what I've read online this time.
    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  2. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi. [​IMG]

    They can lay longer than that, it just won't be as prolific. Do you provide extra light? They have to recover from molt and have enough hours of light in order to be able to lay. It is normal for every chicken to molt and not lay eggs at all for a couple months every year after their first summer/winter.

    Maybe you can buy real RIR to replace them with. Personally I would choose New Hampshire between the two.

    I chose Orpington as my DP breed. I enjoy them but haven't had them long enough to know if they lay all year long. Will you be providing extra light during the winter?

    Wyandottes are supposed to be a good winter layer and their carcass size is nice. Mine again are still too young to tell the facts.

    I also went with Black Copper Marans as another DP. For the egg color and their famed quality of meat. I'm quite impressed with the size of the males. But they were August born and yet to lay though I know it won't be as often as RIR.

    My white leghorn lays circles around everybody, but obviously not much meat. My barred rock definitely do not lay all year long.

    Best thing to do no matter which breed you go with is plan to replace some out each year. That way when your molt sets in you have fresh layers. Eat your year 3 birds since that is when production really wanes. I have been deciding to replace birds during first molt or wait, Because you still have to feed the new crew and when they start aren't consistent yet or large in size. So I decided first molt was more affordable than replacing but replace before second molt. The girls will still have some laying left in them so I don't yet know if I will offer for sale or just crock pot them.

    Anything born after Feb/Mar starts laying to late in the year for me.
    Maybe this list will help you a bit, it's not up to date with every breed, but pretty good still.

    http://www.sagehenfarmlodi.com/chooks/chooks.html

    Best wishes! [​IMG]
     
  3. teaton

    teaton Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I choose not to provide artificial lighting, simply because I want to sleep well at night and not worry about what if the light bulb falls and catches straw on fire, what if rain gets to extention cord ect. Im a worrier!!!

    I did worm them all last month and I think a few of them were molting, so that "could" be it and really hope so, because I do enjoy the breed itself. I have wanted to start a heritage/standard breed flock of rhode islands, but getting your hands on some of those chicks or eggs can be hard with waiting lines always filled up! So I thought it would just be best to add another breed flock to supplement my reds since I have the capabilities anyway.

    Who knows what Ill really do though, Im just throwing the idea out there and asking for peoples advice. Thank you for your input!
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  4. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    I also don't provide light. Like you said fire hazards and such. But on top of that I think their body needs a chance to rest and regenerate.

    Year 1, most all will continue to lay through winter. Year two most all will molt and quit laying for several months... regardless of breed in my experience.

    With that many chickens, have you considered trying fermented feed? Check the link in my signature line. Saves $, but the deciding factor for me was the difference in the smell and consistency of the poo.

    Also, when the chickens molt.... they do not need the extra calcium in layer. Many switch over to an all flock type with higher protein to help feathers grow back in since they are 95% protein and offer the oyster shell on the side.

    Since I have a mixed age and gender flock.... I use Purina Flock Raiser with 20% protein and 1% calcium with oyster shell on the side for layers. I don't care about the brand, it's the nutrient totals that matter to me. The calcium in layer is too much for birds not in lay and can (not will) cause kidney issues in the long term including chicks, molting hens, and roosters. It's true the higher protein feed cost a little more than layer, because protein cost more than oyster shell and that is 4% of what's in the layer feed. Also the 16% protein in layer is the minimum needed to support laying. If you give treats, it could easily be diminished too much.

    You can't eat the eggs anyways with a lot of wormers. Did you actually see worms or just taking precautionary measures? What did you treat with? I have never wormed yet.
     
  5. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    X 2 on all counts. One approach to avoid the issue of the molt related egg stoppage is to rotate your flock so that you always have some first year layers in your flock - they will lay through the winter (generally) and this makes up for the molting aged birds who are more inclined to take the winter off. Some folks rotate the whole flock, but this is, imo, short sighted, as it never gives you the benefit of the 2nd laying cycle which is a very productive one for production bred birds - if you have the space to further expand this approach the 3rd cycle is also generally a pretty decent one, but for some folks there isn't room to have 1st, 2nd and 3rd year layers - so for those it can work out to sell off (or process) the 2nd year layers in the fall of that second cycle when they are beginning to molt.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  6. teaton

    teaton Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I havent thought about the feed, but you had me at poop smell!!! I actually have 30 birds currently on my property and Im constantly cleaning and laying down new straw, it gets stinky!!
    So I will definitely look into that!

    I had a young pullet get an anal prolapse and die and right before she passed I noticed the worms, so I treated everyone. I used wazine as instructed adding it to thier water and then after about a week or so I followed up with safeguard - Now that I had to actually tackle each bird down and make them take by mouth as recommended.

    Thank you for your letting me know that every bird no matter what thier breed goes through a cycle like this, that makes me feel ALOT better! When I was told that the production reds where only bred to lay eggs for so long, my heart dropped because I put so much into raising this breed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  7. teaton

    teaton Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 3 sets currently right now actually, in 3 seperate coops on my property, thats actually something I was trying to do, but it hasnt taken off yet, I didnt time it right either though...

    I have the older flock 14 1-2 year old hens, I belive only the younger pulletts are actually laying and theyre not really even one yet actually they will be in May.

    Then I have a set of August and September babies, who arent laying yet.

    And 6, 1 month olds. I had planned on hatching more this month to go into a coop with them.

    I am really happy to hear about a second laying season! Is that true even in production hybrids? Like the production reds, red sex links and comets?
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  8. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    Yes - their second cycle is often the best as far as consistent large egg size and production rate. The first cycle is beneficial as it is less effected by the shorter daylight hours of winter, but the egg size and production rate can be a bit unpredictable at times, such as when they first start laying, and it can take varying amounts of time for a given bird to fall into a good, solid pattern of size/lay rate.
     
  9. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    It's all a learning experience, you are doing the best thing you can which is to ask questions and make adjustments. You'll have this down pat in no time and soon be an old hand at the whole thing.
     
  10. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Agree with OGM.

    No breed is going to lay year round, year after year. In the northern hemisphere, anyway. They're going to cycle through laying and resting. Start laying around 6 months. Lay until about 18 months. Molt, recharge for a few months. start laying again, lay for several months, molt and take the winter off again. Repeat, with egg quantity decreasing each cycle.

    If you want year round eggs, you need to either supplement light, or add fresh pullets each year. Really doesn't matter the breed, each production bred bird follows basically the same cycle.
     

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