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Production Issues (we're not newbies)

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by SEAMS, Dec 25, 2016.

  1. SEAMS

    SEAMS New Egg

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    Dec 25, 2016
    We're on our 3rd flock and having problems.

    Our first flock was made up of a variety of 11 Rhode Island hens (Red and White). They were fully free-range on our 10 acres of woodland with a 64 square foot custom designed and built coop to sleep at night. We had plenty of eggs year round, but because they were free range, they were more susceptible to predators and during our 2nd year, we were down to 4. We usually got about 8 to 9 eggs a day, easily.

    This year we bought more, cleared some woods, moved the 64 sq ft coop and built a 350 sq ft run for them to stay in to protect them from predators. We also added some roosting bars that they love.

    The store made a mistake and while we thought we were bringing home more Rhode Island Reds, we actually bought a mixture of Rhode Island Reds and Ameraucanas, plus 2 roosters. One rooster is a RIR, but we have no idea what the other rooster is.

    That brought the grand total up to 19 chickens, which from what we read was still OK for our size coop.

    When they were about 7 months old, the RIR's began laying and we were getting about 5 to 6 eggs a day. Around 8 to 9 months old, our Ameraucanas started to lay and we got maybe 2 blue eggs each day.

    Between this time, we adopted a flock of 2-year-old RIRs. We bought a 2nd coop (although not as big) to make some space until we could build another custom coop. We've had this 3rd flock for a couple of months.

    We have 22 hens in the big coop and 7 hens in the smaller coop.

    Now we're getting maybe 1 egg every other day, and we have 29 hens and 2 roosters. I noticed that a few eggs looked wrinkled on the tops, which I've read is a sign of either age or stress.

    We added a light, we've continued to try to move hens to free up space, we're diligent to keep their coops clean, we haven't changed their diet, we moved the roosters into our garage in case they were stressing out the hens (we didn't have roosters with our first flock) and we don't see any improvement.

    It's winter, but we live in the South, so while we can have some cold snaps, it's not intensely cold. It's Christmas and the temps this weekend are in the 50s to 60s. I think the coldest it's been was in the 20s a couple of weeks ago and that was considered unusual.

    At this point, our Ameraucanas haven't laid an egg in about 3 to 4 weeks. Our RIRs are producing one egg every other day. Does this sound reasonable?

    Our thought at this point is that we're still dealing with overcrowding and need to cull some chickens. Could that be it? And if so, which ones do we cull? If it's possible that we're only dealing with overcrowding, we'll build a second coop. But even with that, 1 egg every other day with 29 hens seems unusual. Our current coop cost about $2000 to build, so if it's not overcrowding, then we don't want to make that kind of investment.

    Any other ideas?
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    How long ago did you add the light, what is it, and how many hours/day is it on, to give them total amount of light to =? (daylight + supplemental?) A warm light tends to be best at promoting laying. Look for around 2700K. How many watts is your light? You should plan to ramp the light up 1/2 to 1 hour/week until you reach a total of 14 hours/day.

    As far as space in the coop and run, minimum recommended requirement for a back yard flock is 4 s.f. in coop and 10 s.f. in the run per bird. IMO, any less than that amount of space is going to sooner or later lead to management problems which could show up as stress, interflock aggression, or disease.
     
  3. SEAMS

    SEAMS New Egg

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    Dec 25, 2016
    We added the light about a month ago. It's timed to turn on at 5am and turned off at 8, when we let them out of their coop. It's not a warming lamp but the wattage is 70. We were told they may need more light so we didn't think we needed a warning lamp.

    If you needed to cull some hens, which would you cull? Are the roosters needed? I've heard they can boost production but we are afraid they will stress them out.
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    Roosters will not boost production. And, if you have more than one, the stress of that could certainly be a factor. 70W should be plenty. I'd opt for a LED. they put out the equivalent of a 60 - 70W while using a fraction of the electricity and producing a fraction of the heat. You don't need to be heating up your coop. Many people put their general location in their profile. It helps others to make a connection, and to dispense advice that is appropriate for the area you live in. If you are going to cull to bring your numbers down to match your coop/run size, I'd get rid of the 2 year old birds. Depending on the specific information you were given when you got them... if the person who gave them to you did not tell you what month they were hatched... that 2 year old could be any where from 18 to 36 months old!!!! You might up their protein, and give them extra calcium on the side, if you are not already doing so.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Good advice already.

    Space is definitely an issue, stress of adding more birds could also play a part.
    Building another coop may help, but I'd think about what your long term goals are and what housing you need to make that happen before building another coop.

    You can flip on the light switch, but it won't necessarily flip the egg laying machine switch on (haha!).
    It can take time and isn't a guarantee.

    What and how exactly are you feeding?
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016

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