Newbie waiting for eggs..

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by SliceOHeaven, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. SliceOHeaven

    SliceOHeaven Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 18, 2013
    HI.. My pullets are 18 weeks, none of the 14 have begun laying... could it be slow in starting at this time of year,
    due to shortened days and colder nights?
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    18 weeks is barely old enough. Start looking for their combs and wattles to redden. They may also starat squatting as you approach. These are signs that eggs will come soon. Point of lay varies with each individual, as well as within breeds. Some may not lay for 6 months or even a year. Others may indeed start at 18 weeks or even slightly earlier. Also, winter approaching may affect this. Some may wait to start until spring, and some may start soon and lay all winter. Again, it varies.

    What breed are they? Are they from a hatchery or feed store, or did you buy from someone local? If you don't know what breed they are and you post some pics here, our "experts" can no doubt tell you.
     
  3. SliceOHeaven

    SliceOHeaven Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 18, 2013
    Thanks for the info.. I bought them from a feed store.. 90% sexed from the hatchery..they say.. but one clearly crowed yesterday!
    I have 4- Golden Laced Wyandottes, 3- Black Austrolorpes, 4-Barred Rocks, 3- Easter Eggers, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree! LOL
    I also have 4 Buff Orpingtons, around 10-12 weeks, not outside yet. Just got some ducklings too... Duck eggs are sposed to be the next "big thing" Haha.. hoping to sell to friends and neighbors to pay for this new and delightful hobby.
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    My flock all came from Ideal hatchery or were hatched here from the same birds. If your experience is like mine, the Australorps will lay first and will also be your best winter layers, and the EE's will start laying last. Buff Orps are supposed to be a later maturing breed.

    We've had no eggs for a month or so because they are molting. I imagine we'll start getting a few again in january. We get about twice as many eggs in spring and summer as winter. That's how it goes; sometimes you are hunting egg recipes and sometimes you are buying eggs....
     
  5. GuppyTJ

    GuppyTJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 13, 2013
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    My Coop
    Yup, it varies greatly. I had some laying at 17 weeks, some at 22 weeks and some are 32 weeks old and still not laying. My Barred Rocks are my best and earliest layers, vs. my Black Australorps, Coco Maran and Buff Orpingtons but this can vary too, depending on the line of the breed.

    Best advice I can give is to vigilant but patient. I free range (no run, no fence, secure coop at night) on the border of thick forest. So, when they were starting to approach the point of lay, I tried really hard to ensure they laid in the nest boxes inside the coop. I did NOT want to be searching the thick undergrowth every day looking for eggs. So, as they started to be close to the point of lay, (signs that tell you this is when your rooster starts mating with them, very red combs, squatting, interest in the nest boxes) I started being more deliberate about showing them the eggs inside the nest box. I put the fake easter eggs inside the nests, as every one recommends. But I also kept 2 fake easter eggs propped up on the lip of the nest box on a pile of hay so they were visible to the chickens on the ground. Then, I made sure my rooster showed the hens where to lay the eggs inside the coop. When he showed them a spot outside the coop, I'd discourage him and lead him into the coop and show him the eggs. He quickly became my teacher for the hens, showing them to lay their eggs inside the coop and in the nest boxes.

    I put a bit of work and time into trying to ensure the hens laid in the nest boxes in the coop and it paid off. Despite free ranging, all my laying chickens lay in the nest boxes inside the coop. To me, this investment is well worth not having to hunt all over creation for eggs on a daily basis!

    Hope this helps,
    Guppy
     
  6. SliceOHeaven

    SliceOHeaven Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 18, 2013
    Great stuff.. thanks.. learning more every day! I'm curious about the free ranging.. do you have trouble with predator birds? We have hawks and owls here. Do you have a guard dog or do your roosters warn?
     
  7. GuppyTJ

    GuppyTJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    Hi SliceOHeaven,

    So far (knock on wood) I have had no problems with predators. We live on the border of 3,000 acres of Daniel Boone National Forest so I think I'm as surprised and grafeful for this as anyone. But again.... I did a bunch of things to try to minimize predator problems. I'm definitely someone who will invest time and energy up front to keep from doing work or having heartbreak, losses or frustration later.

    So, for predators I've done a bunch of things. One is I cut a trail through the forest that makes a wide circle around my barn and coop. The trail is pretty deep in the forest so the idea is I created a perimeter around the coop. I walk this trail a few times a day when I go up to the barn from the house. It takes longer to walk the trail than to go the direct route but I know my human presence deters predators like coyotes and foxes.

    I also had 2 dogs but one is 9 years old and the other is blind. They were very helpful by running up in the woods and barking at things. Even barking at squirrels is helpful in keeping predators away. But... I realized that I needed more so about a month ago, I adopted a 1 year old Anatolian mutt from the kill shelter. He's a GREAT guard dog, running around in the woods even more than the other 2. He sleeps in the house at night and is down at the house during the day so he's not with the chickens all the time like a true guardian dog. But he helps a great deal with predator patrol and has been a great addition to the family and farm.

    Beyond that, we do just little things. My husband pees in the woods when he goes for a hike, for example. His male testosterone is supposed to deter predators. Sounds weird, I know but... if it works, it works. If it doesn't work, it's not hurting anything!

    We have lots of hawks in the area but my chickens have several open barn type areas and thick woods to forage in. So far, I haven't had any problems with predators from the air. We don't have problems with owls because I lock the chickens in a secure coop at night.

    My rooster is a GREAT rooster. He does all the right rooster behaviors, including predator alarming. He warns for overhead hawks or crows or anything that flies over. When he alarms, the flock responds because they trust and respect him. In fact, when I got the new 3rd dog, the rooster literally posted himself between the flock and the new dog. The rooster then tried to make it clear to the dog that the chickens were off limits to the dog. This is a 60 lb dog that this 5 lb rooster was willing to tangle with! I'm not saying it was smart of the rooster but it shows how seriously he takes his flock guarding responsibilities.

    Now that winter is coming and the caloric needs of predators go up as they try to stay warm in the cold, I'm not sure if all my little efforts will keep the predators at bay. Time will tell but so far, so good.

    Hope this helps,
    Guppy
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2013
  8. SliceOHeaven

    SliceOHeaven Out Of The Brooder

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    Good to hear, Guppy, and no, "marking territory" does not sound weird, I was going to suggest it had you not mentioned it!~ I remember reading the book "Never Cry Wolf" in college as required reading in bio. class.. which of course is what the main character did when he was studying wolves in the Arctic. We have a dog/cat/horse rescue here and there are just too many dogs to allow our chickens to free range on the ranch. One at at time, they're fine, but that "pack mentality" quickly takes over!

    You mentioned one sign to look for as they're getting ready to lay is their combs get red... most of my pullets have little or no comb at all. The Black Aus. and the Barred Rocks have the most, but they're not very big..They're coming up on 20 weeks. I took pictures with my phone today.. can I attach them here?

    Thanks,
    Shelley
     
  9. GuppyTJ

    GuppyTJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 13, 2013
    Kentucky
    My Coop
    Shelly,

    Sure, you can attach pictures here and we'd be glad to look at them. Just use the little picture icon in the icon bar to attach pics. Even if the combs are on the small side, you'll notice when they get more red. It's less about comparing Chicken 1 to Chicken 2 in terms of how big or red the comb is, it's more about comparing Chicken 1 one day to Chicken 1 a few days later. Now that you know what to look for, you'll be able to spot the change. It's often a pretty noticeable change in color.

    I can always tell now when one of my hens is going to start laying. Just today, my Cuckoo Maran started showing signs of being ready to lay. Her comb is more red than just a few days ago. I saw my rooster mate with her. This morning, I caught her checking out the nest boxes. It's funny to watch. As I was cleaning the coop this morning, I saw her standing outside one of the nest boxes looking in. She spotted the fake eggs in there and literally, did a double-take. You could almost see her little chicken mind thinking "What's that? Are those eggs? I see... this must be a good place for me to lay my eggs because the older more experienced chickens are laying theirs here." Funny little chickens!

    Yup, if you have several dogs, it's not safe for the chickens to free range, I agree. Really GREAT of you to have a dog/cat/horse rescue on your land! I work at several shelters in the area so I admire you for doing this!

    Guppy
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013
  10. SliceOHeaven

    SliceOHeaven Out Of The Brooder

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    Guppy, when I say they have little or no combs.. they're like this! I have several EEs and Wyandottes who appear to have no combs at all. The Black Austs and the B.Rocks have short combs, but at least they're there! To tell you the truth, I'm not sure if they're pullets or cockerels! LOL They're supposed to be girls!
     

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