Red Star Laying question

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by aemrivera, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. aemrivera

    aemrivera New Egg

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    Oct 9, 2012
    I'm new to the "mini egg farm" thing and was blessed with 3 beautiful Red Stars about a 6 weeks ago. They are about one year old, and had been laying beautifully. The girls are essentially free-ranged in our fenced back yard and sleep securely in a makeshift coop made out of a large dog crate. Feed is Dumor laying, with grit and calcium mixed in, plus "treats" of rice and whatever peelings are available.
    Here's the question - everything I've read about RS's is that they lay pretty consistently year-round, but lately I've not been getting many eggs. Went from 3 eggs/day, about a week ago, started getting only 2, with one day only having 1 egg. Two days ago, my smallest RS was egg-bound, and I was able to help her pass the egg. (She had been acting funny and wouldn't eat, now she's fine and back to herself)
    Am I doing something wrong, to have a lower egg production, or is it truly not unusual to have less eggs in cooler weather? Do I need to change diet? Behavior is perfectly normal for them right now.

    Thanks for any help!
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    It's usual for them to lay fewer eggs in winter. Some breeds quit in winter, some lay fewer.

    I prefer to offer the grit and oyster shell (I'm guessing this is the calcium you're using) separately. My chickens take very little grit, so I'm guessing they get most of their grit from the ground. Some seem to eat more oyster shell than others.

    I just cut off the bottoms of a couple of 2 liter soda bottles and screwed them down to a 2x4 scrap for cups to hold grit and oyster shell. But then, I'm cheap.

    Many people add a small light on a timer to keep their day length at 14 hours. This should cause them to lay a lot better in winter. Depends on where you are, of course.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012
  3. aemrivera

    aemrivera New Egg

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    Thanks for the info. They're back to one a day now. Not sure what happened there...

    As for the grit and oyster shell, the lady I got them from told me to mix it in their feed, but it does seem like a lot gets wasted. I think I'll try it your way, keeping it separate. Maybe that'll save on the waste.
     
  4. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 6 RSL's and have also noticed a drop in production with the shorter days. It's perfectly normal since shorter days usually mean lean times are coming. Their biology is determined by the seasons and when winter comes, they need more of their resources for maintaining their bodies, so fewer are devoted to producing eggs. Over the summer, we averaged about 5 a day; now it's about 4 and I expect it will drop a bit further before the winter is over. We could probably bump it again by adding supplemental light in the coop in the mornings but even 3 a day is more than we eat, so it's no big deal to us.

    I definitely agree with Flockwatcher. Make grit and calcium supplement available separately. They have great instinct for what their bodies need and they'll help themselves as required. Our coop is raised so we screwed two of the large sized tuna cans to two of the legs...one for grit and one for oyster shell (or ground eggshell, whatever we have). We just keep them topped off and they take care of the rest.

    One thing you can do for them feed wise is give them supplemental protein. I make yogurt for ours and they get any cheese that's gone hard or is a bit past the exp date (not rotten but just...old, and I remove any mold), cooked beans and meat...oh they go bonkers for any kind of meat! We have a neighbor who brews her own beer, so we get the spent grains and they love it. They also get any veg trimmings and lots of greens...weeds we pull, some comfrey we have growing, clover...it's all good for them. We throw a little cracked corn in their run too...it gives them something to do and supplements their food as well.

    The process to produce an egg can take anywhere from 21 to 36 hours so you don't necessarily get an egg every day. RSL's are awesome layers and we often get 6 eggs a day (or did till the days got shorter) but it wasn't every day. We'd get 4 for a couple days, then 5, then 6 for a few days, then maybe only 3 for a day...it varied. I haven't yet, but I'm going to start a little journal about the chickens...noting what sort of extras they get and how many eggs each day etc. I'm thinking it'll be interesting to review it all.
     
  5. ellandeeranch

    ellandeeranch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We bought 3 "five month old RSL's" three months ago exactly. Two of them have yet to start laying. One of those two is brilliant red in her combs/wattles. The one RSL that is laying is very productive. She goes 7 or 8 days in a row, then takes a day off. I have had a morning light in the coop for the last two weeks. I do have three EE hens in the run as well. They get layer pellets, not much scratch, and greens/fruits from the garden.

    My hypothesis is that "five months" is a relative term. I sure haven't heard any posts around here that talks about RSL's going 8 months before starting.

    We live in the high desert north of Los Angeles, so we've had some pretty intense heat up until about 3 weeks ago. Then, the yearly change happens with the city "down below," as the desert rats call LA. Now we're hitting the low 40's at night, and make the high 70's-low 80's in the day.

    In the next month sometime, we'll drop down to First Frost. Then our temps will go from low 20's at night to mid 50's in the day.

    I keep thinking I'm doing something wrong as a newb, but boy the hens sure seem happy and active.
     
  6. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It can depend on the parentage, too. sl's are a hybrid, so it could be that one of the parents is a late maturer. I've never heard of them going that long either...most start pretty early. We didn't have ours when they started but the woman we bought them from said they started at 20 weeks. I figured that with the stress of moving we wouldn't get any eggs for a couple days, but we got 2 that very first day. Since July when we got them, the frequency and size of eggs has been steadily increasing. Now all of them are large to jumbo and until the shorter days, we averaged 5 per day. We're considered high desert here too...have had several hard frosts and our daytime temps have been in the 50's to upper 60's. The average has dropped to about 4 a day now but the size is still good. I expect to drop to about 3 a day over real winter, and that'll be okay for us...we don't eat that many every day!
     

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