Question about egg laying....and chicken behavior

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by bburn, Sep 23, 2010.

  1. bburn

    bburn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2010
    Delaware, Arkansas
    My crew are all 21-22 weeks old. Recently I rehomed, processed and sold almost all the roosters. I still have three and need to see who I am going to keep.

    Some of the hens are really getting red combs....some more than others. I went out this evening to treat them before lock up.(cottage cheese for the calcium...lol) I always go out with a treat at the end of the day but I don't give it if they have not eaten all their feed. When I walked out I was watching them. I have seen signs of breeding with the head grabbing but never seen them actually breed. Earlier today I thought maybe it was going on because there are a lot of fuzzy looking heads on the hens from the grabbing. But tonight the BO rooster bred one of the RIR hens while I was standing there. (I was not in the run and not sure they even realized I had not left)

    My question is this....if they are actually breeding....instead of just trying and being rejected because that was what I noticed before...does that mean they are really getting ready to lay eggs? I know we don't have to have the rooster. But would they allow the breeding if they were not mature enough to start laying?

    I am not anxious about them laying. I know it will come in time. I was just a little surprised tonight. Before I had see the head grabbing and the hen would get loud and run away. This was the real deal. I was just curious if we were starting to get close to getting eggs?

    Things are much calmer in the coop and run now minus all the roosters. I am thinking that will help move things along. Thoughts?

    One more newbie question.....how long can I give the roo's before I have to take them down to at least two...or one? There are three and 12 hens so I know I have to still do a little culling. The BO and two Barred Rocks. The BO seems to be the Alpha Roo at the moment. No one takes him on. The BR's skittle out of his way. There has been no fighting so far between them. So, what would be my timeline you think?

    And it is dark here by 8pm....should I be putting a light out for them?

    Thanks for any input....
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2010
  2. briteday

    briteday Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    Roosters will breed anything that will let them. It does not have any meaning that your pullets could be ready to lay eggs. The rooster just wants to do his job and the pullet is letting him. Don't get excited about eggs just yet though based on their behavior.

    If you want the flock dynamics to be optimal when they do start laying eggs, I would try to cull out your extra rooster now. If you wait until later and the girls are laying eggs there may be a change of rank amongst the birds that could upset the egglaying for a bit. Even 2 roosters for 12 girls is a bit much. I'd go down to one rooster, but that's just me. I had 13 hens last year with one rooster and a few of the favorite girls got pretty "used" looking, very bare on the backsides. Heaven help the hen who is the favorite of both roosters! And I'm not partial to the temperment of BR's, roos or hens...so those would be my choice of who needs to go. Te only reason I would keep one would be if you have BR hens and want to breed them.

    Providing extra light is up to you. I have not done so in past years. However, I found that the egg production of my sexlinks dropped WAY off as we started to have shorter days. So this is the first year I am providing extra light in the coop. I'm aiming for 14-15 hours of light per day.
     
  3. 33yardbirds

    33yardbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 15, 2010
    Southern New Jersey
    You mentioned you give treats when they have finished their feed. Many believe, as I also, that you should keep feed available at all times. I also agree your roo count is a little heavy. I currently have 2 for 23 hens and we's all happy here.
     
  4. SmittenChicken

    SmittenChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 23, 2010
    This is my first year with chickens and I don't have any roos, so I'm not sure if it's different with them in the picture - but, I would guess it's the same with squatting. Do any of your pullets squat for you if you try to pet them?

    Mine were impossible to catch until they started squatting - maybe the roos are just better at catching them, but since she wasn't protesting I'd guess you'll have eggs in the next couple weeks!
     
  5. bburn

    bburn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2010
    Delaware, Arkansas
    Thank you all....you are telling me what I thought.

    My husband is out of state working and I am dealing with this myself for now. I started culling when the behaviors started changing. Knew there were too many roo's.....now with three I am looking and deciding to keep the BO.

    I am however planning on dividing the pen. I am looking for a little tykes playhouse and will put it in the corner. My plan is to get a hen...maybe two for one of the BR's. Will it work out if they are penned up but can still see each other? I have worried about that too. The run is very large. If nothing else will use it if I have a hen go broody or if I need to separate any of them for some reason.

    Right now....and I do not expect it to last, the BR's are very submissive to the BO. But then again...have heard things about the BR's.
    But the real issue here, and I know it, is the three roo's.....

    Am going to put an ad on craigslist in the morning. Try to sell the two BR's. I want harmony in the pen. I don't want the hens abused because of too many roo's. I know it is nature taking it's course......but I don't want to set them up for it.

    My stepson is helping me and I bought the pvc today to make a pvc feeder. I, too, have always believe in self feeding. There is always some feed for them to get to as I am out there several times a day. Not just feed in the morning and hope they all get what they need.

    I want happy chickens...lol. Don't want them hungry, buggy or picked on. Just trying to do the best for them as I can and believe it will pay off for me in the long run. Gosh...the worst thing that happened was getting so many rooster....never again will I buy straight run chicks! These are not for show but for home and eggs. On to craigslist.

    Thanks all for the input....I needed it!
     
  6. tommboy1973

    tommboy1973 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 8, 2010
    Hidden Valley, AZ
    Quote:Just curious as I am fairly new to chickens and have 5 Barred Rocks pullets. Is that what you mean by BR and what things have you heard???
     
  7. bburn

    bburn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2010
    Delaware, Arkansas
    BR...Barred Rock....I only have roo's and read on one post that they could get mean. So, I am watching them closely and honestly have not seen any sign of agressive behavior. The Rhoade Island Red roo's that I had were very agressive and it progressed to being mean pretty quickly...hormones. But, there were too many roosters and that might have been the reason. All of mine are around 22 weeks.

    I wish you were closer I would give you one of my BR roo's! I love them and they are beautiful but neither of them seems to be the Alpha roo....have a Buff Orpington that is the alpha. But, alas, I have too many roo's still. I have a good size coop and large run and can handle more chickens...but had too many roo's and have had to cull. They say, they being people who know much more about chickens than I, that three roo's are too many for 12 hens. So, I have to cull again.

    Am thinking of dividing my run and putting in a second small coop and keeping at least one BR roo and get him two or three hens. We are all just learning. This has been a big lesson for me and will never buy straight run again.....will spend a little more money and buy sexed.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2010
  8. cubalaya

    cubalaya Overrun With Chickens

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    Nov 19, 2008
    central virginia
    the ideal ratio is one roo to 10 or 12 hens but if you have several breeds you can keep one roo with 2 or 3 hens and he will still be happy.
     
  9. bburn

    bburn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2010
    Delaware, Arkansas
    That is what I think I will do....divide the run off...it is plenty big. Put a little tykes playhouse in the corner and fix it up and put one roo and two hens in it. Just hate to let the BR go.
     
  10. tommboy1973

    tommboy1973 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 8, 2010
    Hidden Valley, AZ
    bburn: Too bad..I would love your BR roo!! My BR pullets seem to be the friendliest even tho I handled them the least (my second batch of chicks, I didn't spend every waking moment with them like I did the first!! LOL). I did have one Black Australorp roo that was VERY mean to the hens and me and he became dinner, so am currently roosterless!!
     

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