Preparing for egg laying

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by CT11, Jul 18, 2019.

  1. CT11

    CT11 In the Brooder

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    Hi All

    My girls just hit the 12 week old mark. I believe I'm about 6 weeks away from egg laying, but I like to be prepared so wanted to ask a few questions I've been thinking on.

    When should I open the nest boxes?
    When should I place fake eggs in the boxes?
    When can I start layer feed (I have a about two weeks of chick feed left - can I transition now or is it too soon)?
    When do I start the calcium supplement?
    Is it enough to give them dried eggshells or is a supplement a must?
    What have I not even thought about that I should be asking?

    Thanks in advance. This community has made the experience of getting chickens so much less stressful and more rewarding than it would have been otherwise.
     
    DobieLover likes this.
  2. TwoChicksChix

    TwoChicksChix Songster

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    Hey,

    So the average age for hens to start laying is between 18-20 weeks. However, depending on what breeds of chickens you have it could be earlier or later. Orpingtons have been known to start laying as early as 16 weeks while bigger birds might wait until 22.

    As for the nest boxes, I usually open mine up once they hit about 15-16 weeks so that they can get used to them before they start to lay.

    I also put fake eggs in once they hit the 18 week mark, one at a time daily, so they think someone else is laying there. I’ve found that if there’s one hen laying in the boxes, the rest like to copy her.

    Also, a good piece of information is, once your hens faces and wattles start to turn red rather than pale, that’s when they’re getting ready to lay.

    You can probably start to transition to layer feed at about 16 weeks, otherwise any earlier can cause some issues. As for the calcium, crushed eggshells is usually fine, it depends on what their other food includes and if they free range or not.

    I guess I end with some questions for you,

    What breeds of chickens are they?
    What laying feed would you be giving them?
    Are they free ranging at all?
    Do they get other supplements like treats and the like?
     
    Helloworld likes this.
  3. DobieLover

    DobieLover Easily distracted by chickens

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    Are they reliably roosting? If they are, you can open the boxes now. You can place fake eggs whenever.
    I highly recommend feeding an All Flock, Flock Raiser (my personal choice) or even keeping them on chick starter provided the protein is 18 - 20% for life. Add calcium supplement at about 15 weeks in a side container. They will all sample it out of curiosity. Oyster shell is dirt cheap and a 50# bag ($10) lasts a long time. I have over 1/2 a bag left with 10 hens. I've had the bag over a year. My chickens prefer egg shells and I do feed them. But they don't produce enough for their needs. It's actually physically impossible when you think about it.
     
  4. I think you'll have to wait a little longer than that. Depending on your breed of birds, it could be earlier, but they'll probably lay around 5 1/2 or 6 months old. I always know my pullets are close to laying when they start singing the egg song (buk-buk-buk-buk-BAGAWK!) and doing the rooster squat when I walk by. You can switch feed now or later. I don't know if it makes much difference. My pullets are in with my layers, so they eat layer feed as soon as they're tall enough to reach it. I'd start oyster shell after they're laying. It's not like they'll become calcium deficient immediately.
     
  5. CT11

    CT11 In the Brooder

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    What breeds of chickens are they?
    What laying feed would you be giving them?
    Are they free ranging at all?
    Do they get other supplements like treats and the like?[/QUOTE]

    I have 2 Speckled Sussexes, 2 Barred Plymouth Rocks, 1 Ameraucana and 1 Austrolorp.
    I was just going to use whatever organic laying feed they sell at my local Agway.
    I work shift work, but if home in the evening, they free range for 2-3 hours. Maybe 3 nights a week give or take.
    Other than electrolytes in the water when particularly warm, no supplements. For treats they get a variety including dried mealworms/crickets, scratch, compost from the kitchen and various weeds/prunings from the garden. Not everything everyday, try to keep it more interesting that way. (today they had themselves a frog too - but that wasn't my doing.
     
  6. TwoChicksChix

    TwoChicksChix Songster

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    So based on the breeds, I figure your Australorp and speckled Sussex will lay first, then your Plymouth Rock and ameraucana.

    May I ask what kind of ameraucana? Because if you got it from a store, it’s most likely an EE and might lay at a different time depending. I know the stores near me mislabel them all the time.

    If the feed has a good amount of calcium, you don’t need to add a ton right away. I sometimes just mix a bit in with some treats and give mine a handful or two every few days. Haven’t had any problems yet, and this is going on 15 years.

    My newest gals, two EE’s, two leghorns, a ISA brown hen, and a BLRW all haven’t started laying yet, and they’re at 17 weeks old. So I wouldn’t expect anything until 18 at the earliest.
     
  7. CT11

    CT11 In the Brooder

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    8E9388B3-9594-403D-9F49-777CC59D1FD3.jpeg

    This is a picture of what we bought as an Ameraucana...
     
  8. TwoChicksChix

    TwoChicksChix Songster

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    Hmm, did they just say it was an Ameraucana? Or what color it was?

    It’s silver looking and I don’t breed silvers, but it doesn’t look like a pure Ameraucana.
     
  9. CT11

    CT11 In the Brooder

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    nothing about color. It was in the Ameraucana bin for whatever thats worth.
     
  10. TwoChicksChix

    TwoChicksChix Songster

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    Yeah, an Easter egger then. It’s rare to get true Ameraucanas from any bin, and if they are true, they’d be labeled for color and such. Like silver ameraucana, or B/B/S ameraucanas.

    The two I have from a store are EE, very pretty, but EEs nonetheless. My pure bred Ameraucana stock are much more beautiful looking though, and have stark color differences between the fakes.
     

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