Question regarding egg production vs flock health

myusername

Hatching
May 22, 2015
2
0
7
Oklahoma
Good morning all. First I would just like to say how awesome of a resource this website is. I have come to this site for the last three years for guidance and am confident the reason I have a happy healthy flock is due in no small measure due to the information gleaned here. However despite scouring the forums I have come up against a problem I cannot find an answer to.

Most people would love to have the issue I am having, that is I cannot get my hens to slow down production during the times it is expected. I would no be complaining except I believe now it is affecting their health. We started our first flock just over a year and a half ago and is a mix of Red Sex Links, Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds. After they came into lay our daily production rates have been in the upper 90s and sometimes at 100%. They have shown no signs of slowing down and have not so much as dropped a feather in hint of a moult. Within the last few months I have noticed an increase in thin shelled eggs, abnormalities in the shells and some just simply odd shaped eggs. I ruled out illness or disease and the next logical step was looking at their calcium intake. I have them on a layer feed with a 3.7-3.9% calcium content and they have ample access to oyster shell.

I guess the question I have is A) Could their egg production be outpacing their calcium intake and B) If this is the case are there any recommendations to get them to slow down allowing them to recuperate or how to increase the calcium intake to keep up?
 

Den in Penn

Songster
8 Years
Dec 15, 2011
3,418
216
216
SE Pa.
The thickness of the shell often lessens with age. Other shell abnormalities also increase. While molting does allow them to recuperate it does nothing to make the actually younger. I don't know the percentage the abnormalities increase at per year, but it can be noticeable by the second year.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
95,235
126,315
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Could be the sexlinks are nearing the end of their production peak...high production birds can show a breakdown of the system due to that high production.
And/or birds could be heading into a molt, egg quality can decline near cessation of lay.

How many birds do you have of each breed?
Can you tell their eggs apart?
What percentage of eggs are 'faulty'?
 

myusername

Hatching
May 22, 2015
2
0
7
Oklahoma
I currently have:

Red Sex Link x7
Barred Rock x2
RIR x1

I will find an odd shaped egg from the Barred Rocks about 2-3 times a week it seems (can't figure out which one....could be both at different times) I believe I have found the thin/no shelled egg layer and its one of my smaller RSL. I would say the "faulty" percentage is right around 20%. Sometimes it's just a minor scar on the egg other times it looks like a broken bone that reset and calloused over. You mentioned possible pre-mount issues and I did have a similar incident with one of my ducks last year before she molted and stopped laying for a while as her last egg broke at the vent and we had to pull the remains out. They appear otherwise happy and healthy with ample access to the outside.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,895
11,152
636
western South Dakota
Chckens are not real long lived animals. I know there are people on here that have very old birds, but a general, kind of sort of, rule of thumb is about 3 years. The red sex links are egg laying birds. They lay a lot of eggs, and then very often they die. I just lost one a little past 3 years, fine one day, dead the next morning. She laid very nearly every day, and even in molt, she did not stop laying completely.

One could I suppose with the right hormones (I have no idea where you would get them) could change the laying, but it would not be of any great benefit. They would not heal up like you are imagining.

Your best bet is to start to raise some chicks, say about 1/3 of your numbers. I like a multi-generational flock, some chicks, some about 6 months, some about a year, and some 2, some 3 years old. Older hens lay bigger eggs, younger hens lay through the dark days of winter.

Mrs K
 

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