Question about laying and combs

tweetzone86

Songster
Jul 23, 2018
322
383
161
Kootenai County, ID
Quick question. How reliable are the combs and wattles (size, color, etc) as far as POL is concerned? I'm asking because so far only 5 of my 23 week (tomorrow) RIR pullets are laying. More are squatting but not all (I think- they are persnickety at times and with one exception the rest are practically identical. There are very little differences in appearance that I haven't quite ironed out yet and I can't rely on combs and wattles as much as I'd like for individual identification because I know they're still growing), and I know one that's laying has a pretty small comb because I've caught her in the nest box and collected the egg afterwards.

But I am trying to figure out approximately when the other 7 will catch up to the current 5 layers. I'm supplementing light so they've got 14.5 hours of daylight on a timer out there, fresh water, and I just switched from the 16% layer feed to a flock raiser high protein feed with oyster shell mixed in, on the advice of what I've been reading on here regarding protein levels. Haven't had any issues with soft shell or missing shell eggs- shells are as hard as they should be and harder than the storebought ones for sure :)

Switched out feed on Saturday, not sure if it's making a huge difference yet. I also toss a handful or two of scratch grains when I am calling them back inside the coop because I got tired of chasing the stubborn ones that don't want to come when called in the evening...was using mealworms but that got very spendy very quickly. I do have tiny hands though, so a handful for me isn't all that much. I'd say the couple handfuls of scratch grains are no more than 1/2 a cup total, approximately, per day.

They are in the enclosed run when not in the coop, and I haven't been feeling well the past few days so they haven't been let out in the yard to free range (besides, I have neighbor cat issues so they're only free ranging when I'm out there and I haven't seen any hidden nests). The run has nowhere to hide a nest, though I did find one oddball out there yesterday in plain sight and brought it inside before it could freeze.

Anyway, I've gotten 5 eggs so far today (that's been 5 for the past 3 days) and I keep checking but no more ladies in the nest boxes and no more eggs. Temps are cold especially in the morning, hence the frequent checking...
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
13 Years
Feb 2, 2009
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For me not as reliable as some would have you believe. Even if they are the same breed different hens are going to have different sized combs and wattles. If they are different breeds or mixed breeds all bets are off as far as size. Do not put too much trust in size.

Combs and wattles turning deep red are a fairly good sign they might possibly may be thinking about laying. It is not an absolutely sure sign. Color can be a decent hint but is certainly not a guarantee.

You can get a fairly good idea if they are laying or close by looking at the vent. If it is large, soft, and moist they are probably laying or getting real close. It doesn't mean they are laying every day but it is something I'm pretty comfortable using to tell who is laying.
 

tweetzone86

Songster
Jul 23, 2018
322
383
161
Kootenai County, ID
For me not as reliable as some would have you believe. Even if they are the same breed different hens are going to have different sized combs and wattles. If they are different breeds or mixed breeds all bets are off as far as size. Do not put too much trust in size.

Combs and wattles turning deep red are a fairly good sign they might possibly may be thinking about laying. It is not an absolutely sure sign. Color can be a decent hint but is certainly not a guarantee.

You can get a fairly good idea if they are laying or close by looking at the vent. If it is large, soft, and moist they are probably laying or getting real close. It doesn't mean they are laying every day but it is something I'm pretty comfortable using to tell who is laying.

So how big would you say is "layer" big? I checked all vents this morning but I wasn't sure on size. Bigger than a quarter, etc?
 

tweetzone86

Songster
Jul 23, 2018
322
383
161
Kootenai County, ID
On a side note, just got my 6th egg of the day! :wee

I may or may not have fallen asleep sitting on an overturned bucket out of sight of the hen while waiting for her to be done....
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
13 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,640
24,734
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Southeast Louisiana
So how big would you say is "layer" big? I checked all vents this morning but I wasn't sure on size. Bigger than a quarter, etc?

Good question. I don't know physical size on the vents. If some are laying and some are not the difference should be fairly obvious. Tight and dry versus soft, moist, and more open. More of an appearance than just a size.
 

tweetzone86

Songster
Jul 23, 2018
322
383
161
Kootenai County, ID
Good question. I don't know physical size on the vents. If some are laying and some are not the difference should be fairly obvious. Tight and dry versus soft, moist, and more open. More of an appearance than just a size.

Could you maybe post a picture? In my eyes they were all laying, but as I said I'm still new to this whole laying thing and I doubt I got it right...
 

snow5164

Crowing
May 16, 2015
2,547
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This is like watching a pot of water boil... leave them alone and they will lay ...... do a puzzle, paint on the coop wall do something other then measuring their vents ??

Patience is a virtue:)
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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SW Michigan
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If some are laying and some are not the difference should be fairly obvious. Tight and dry versus soft, moist, and more open. More of an appearance than just a size.
Good description.
It really is a matter of experience to tell the difference, once you spot it it will ever after be pretty obvious.

Could you maybe post a picture? In my eyes they were all laying, but as I said I'm still new to this whole laying thing and I doubt I got it right...
You may be able to google for pics.
upload_2018-10-16_9-31-4.png
Just keep looking between your layers and your nots...and you'll have an ahah moment.

Same goes with comb appearance, when those combs puff up and glow with shininess like perfectly ripe strawberry, it's obvious...but one of my best layers never got there, her comb was rather palish and definitely not shiny.
...and pullets can drive ya nuts, their combs will brighten and pale with exertion and rest 20 times a day before they ever lay.
 

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