Obsessed Newbie flock of 10 w/ laying and behavior probs*Photos*

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by averytds, Jul 10, 2008.

  1. averytds

    averytds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2008
    KS
    I'm a city girl and after years of begging by DH and kids finally agreed to chickens. I have made quite a few mistakes. To be honest I thought "Not my thing, won't have much to do with them, no need to learn as DH and kids will take care of, etc..." Don't know what I could have been thinking.

    Now I'm obsessed with my babies and can't seem to get enough info. Thus I found you all. [​IMG]

    Background on my flock.

    3 RIR pullets purchased as chicks from store mid Feb.
    2 BR pullets purchased same place/time (was 3 DHs dog shook 1 about 2mnths ago and we lost it. they were DSs 4-H fair entry so no go on that)

    1 RIR pullet purchased same store about 3rd wk Feb. (I actually purchased 6 RIRs and 2 EEs but only the 1 RIR survived. I think both mine and store employees stupidity.)

    Purchased approx 1mnth ago.
    1 Buff Brahma pullet hatched May 6 from private Brahma breeder.(Supposedly purebred and suitable for show.)
    3 ? pullets from same breeder. Also hatched May 6. Sold as non-show Ameraucana but I'm thinking they are actually Ameraucana/Brahma mix.

    Coop setup. Approx 6'x8' about 3ft off ground. Inside fenced run approx size of over-sized 1 car garage. 6-12" nesting boxes. Roost they never use. Food and water available inside and under coop 24/7. They are fed layer crumbles, scratch, oyster shell, kitchen/garden scraps and are let out at least twice/day to forage in the yard and garden.

    I have 2 big issues at the moment and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    My layer problem: 1 RIR from her 1st tiny egg thru today lays between 9-10 AM everyday. A nice brown med size egg always in the same nest. Her only lapses were when I changed her bedding and when I put the new chicks in. 3 day lapses both times. She doesn't like change.

    The kids and I had been gone for the weekend when we came back to our 1st eggs. There were 2. Both tiny in the last nest. 1 brown and 1 a really light pink. My daughter was thrilled with the pink 1. In the subsequent days we got the 1 brown everyday and I assumed the 1st 2 eggs had come from the same RIR and DH hadn't checked the nest while we were gone.

    During 1 of the 3 day lapses DD found a softshell egg under the coup. I attributed this to the RIR I knew was laying. I thought just stress.

    About a week and a half ago I caught the chickens eating part of an empty shell that I know we hadn't given to them.

    About 3 days ago I saw what looked like a ping-pong ball under the ramp. Upon inspection it was a perfect pink med size egg half buried in the dirt. After reading around here I'm thinking 1 of the BRs is laying and was responsible for that 1st tiny pink egg. This was not a small 1st time egg. So where are these eggs going. Why lay in the nest 1 time and then not again.

    Are they just buried out there or are they being eaten by the other chickens? I've now instituted at least twice a day searches of the entire run and yard and several checks throughout the day of the nests, but alas no more pink eggs.

    A second RIR has just started. Small, softshell, speckled. Also in the same nest! The other nests have just within the last 2 days finally been sat in and I'm hoping with golf balls to get them using some of the others. 6 possible layers, 6 nests available, no need to wait or crowd ladies.

    My behavior problem: Another stupid mistake on my part I put the new ones in right away. It didn't go well. The 4 babies stayed huddled together as far as they could get from the older girls. The older girls took to chasing and pecking them.

    So we put a separate pen in the coop for the babies. DHs theory was they'll get used to each other and then we can allow them together. Despite it being a month the ladies still try to peck at them when 1 of the babies gets too close to their side. And if 1 of the babies gets into the main run while the ladies are there its complete chasing pecking mayhem.

    Currently the babies only go in the main run when the ladies are in the yard and in the yard when the ladies are in the run. What more can I do? DH says I just need to combine them and get the pecking order thing over and done with.

    I don't think I could stand to watch the ladies picking the sweet babies bald. How would I know when things were getting out of hand. I'm too biased to not intervene I think.

    Thank you for any help. Sorry so long. I wanted to give as much info as possible and heck I just like talking about my girls. LOL
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2008
  2. Lammie

    Lammie Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 25, 2008
    Okay, when you say soft shelled, do you mean like, rubbery? A soft egg can result from the hen being rushed through and laid prematurely, since the shell is the last thing that forms. It can also be a pullet thing.

    I had several pullets lay rubbery eggs or extremely time eggs the first few times.

    As for the behaviors, I don't mix chickens until the chicks are fully feathered. I have had some hens that were just mean to one another. I also have had mine in a pen seperate from the other hens until everyone got used to one another. It can take some time. Don't let the older ones peck on the newer ones.

    I should think that if you had an egg eater you would find goop everywhere. It does make a mess that you would notice. Give your puttets some more time. Sometimes it takes a while for them to learn to lay in the box.
     
  3. averytds

    averytds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2008
    KS
    Hmm maybe I'm using the wrong terms. By soft shell I meant like translucent paper look to it that you can press on and it has give to it. Everything is there, the shells just not thick.

    They have oyster shell available 24/7 and i figure the RIR who layed the softshell yesterday will hopefully partake of it in the days to come.

    The pink eggs are fully formed hard shelled perfect eggs, just sparse and other than the 1st time not in the coop.

    They have such a large run that I don't know if you'd see and recognize just the insides from an egg. And the shell only if there's still some left like the one time I saw them eating one.

    In regards to the babies, they are all feathered out. So I should just turn them loose in the main pen and try not to intervene while they sort it out? How long before peace do you think? How do I know when to intervene?
     
  4. Lammie

    Lammie Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 25, 2008
    Okay. I thought you meant rubbery eggs. Still can be a pullet problem. If you have an egg eater, that is much harder to sort out, as this bad habit can be picked up by the others and it can become a nightnare. Egg eaters need to be culled from the flock. It is sometimes hard to figure out who that is, though.

    As for the chicks, give it a little more time. Some of those hens can be just flat mean. I had EE hens that were bad about picking on newbies. It is all just a part of establishing the pecking order and while some of that behavior is to be expected, it should not be allowed to continue if it injures the other chicks. It should resolve in time, however. Just keep letting them get familiar with one another for a bit longer.

    Keep an eye out for that egg eater.
     
  5. ravenfeathers

    ravenfeathers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 23, 2008
    vermont
    Quote:well, maybe. it doesn't sound as though the OP is interested in culling (if i'm wrong, please forgive the assumption!) this thread has some ideas about egg eating and prevention.
     
  6. Lammie

    Lammie Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 25, 2008
    Quote:well, maybe. it doesn't sound as though the OP is interested in culling (if i'm wrong, please forgive the assumption!) this thread has some ideas about egg eating and prevention.

    Just a thought. I have dealt with this a few times. That's what works for me. I don't look at my birds as pets. I like them and all but they are livestock and should be managed as such. The only way to acheive the results you want sometimes is to cull and cull hard. I don't have time for poultry psychology.

    You are not the only opinionista here.
     
  7. ravenfeathers

    ravenfeathers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 23, 2008
    vermont
    Quote:well, maybe. it doesn't sound as though the OP is interested in culling (if i'm wrong, please forgive the assumption!) this thread has some ideas about egg eating and prevention.

    Just a thought. I have dealt with this a few times. That's what works for me. I don't look at my birds as pets. I like them and all but they are livestock and should be managed as such. The only way to acheive the results you want sometimes is to cull and cull hard. I don't have time for poultry psychology.

    You are not the only opinionista here.

    yes, but not everyone does share your philosophy and the OP ought to have some other options and resources. i'm not sure why my post put you on the defensive, but it wasn't meant as a judgment on your advice, just an alternative.
     
  8. Lammie

    Lammie Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 25, 2008
    I am not on the defensive. And as the OP is new, and as she pointed out, clueless, then it is worth pointing all out all alternatives, including culling, which, although hard, is sometimes necessary to get the kind of flock you want. It is just a part of effective livestock management. I'm a farm girl, and that's where I am coming from.

    Egg eaters are a nightmare. I think we can agree on that.
     
  9. ravenfeathers

    ravenfeathers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 23, 2008
    vermont
    Quote:ah, okay. the last sentence in your original reply must have misled me, then.

    see, i'm also a farm girl and everyone has their own methods and philosophies. sounds like we both agree on that, at least.
     
  10. averytds

    averytds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2008
    KS
    My DH is country and that's his philosophy as well. "They are not pets." He throws a fit when he sees the kids pick one up. So we wait until he's at work.[​IMG]

    I'm not sure if I even have an egg eater. Is it possible 1 of the BR is laying, but only once a week? The egg I found in the dirt other than being partially buried was just sitting there being ignored. Right by the favorite hangout spot. It looked like it had been scratched around a little.

    It was next to the "good" dirt hole so I'm thinking it was scratched out of the way but otherwise left alone.

    I didn't realize the scratch was a treat. I'm thinking maybe I should take it out in case any of them are pigging out on it and ignoring the stuff they should be eating. I'd love a steady diet of chocolate myself, but...not a good idea.[​IMG]

    Just the 1 egg today from the RIR.

    In regards to the babies I'll give it more time.
     

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