Rhode Island Reds- needing some help

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ShannonMC, Oct 16, 2014.

  1. ShannonMC

    ShannonMC Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi! I am new to the whole world of backyard chickens, I have just read post after post until now.
    I found 3 Rhode Island Reds for free on Craigslist, from a really really nice woman. She said the birds were about 1 year old. I noticed feathers had been plucked off the dark red one's back and asked her about it. She said that they might have lice or mites. (I got them home and yes, there were lice, we treated them, I imagine some of the missing feathers are also due to this one being picked on by the other two- two of them like to be together and the dark red one seems to be the one they push around.) This lady also said they don't lay this time of year- odd because I waited and chose Rhode Island Reds because they are supposed to be good through the winter.
    So to continue, I am only getting an egg every other day or so- its very consistent- so I assume its the same hen who is laying. I looked at their vents, compared, only one has a bright pink/red vent. They other two were clearly light pink. Also the dark red hen seems to have a lighter colored comb.
    If they are only a year, shouldn't there be more eggs? It's not really cold here yet. They are very happy in their coop- it could house up to 8 chickens, I am not letting them run loose since I live in a neighborhood- lot of cats and dogs. They were running lose with wild animals on 12 acres before- she said most of them were picked off by coyotes.
    I am adding oyster to their feed, but I am not sure what else there is except to wait. They don't appear to be molting.
    I guess I am wondering if these hens are much older than what she said they are. She said she starts over new each spring with new hens and can't keep them over the winter because her run isn't insulated- she was right it probably wasn't adequate looking at it.
    Thanks for any help ;) Oh I live in south central Kansas btw ;)


    Pax,
    Shannon
     
  2. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi there!

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    I'm not quite sure what season you are in over there (I am in Australia and it's Spring here), but if they have just moulted they may not be up to full laying potential yet.

    You've done the right thing in treating them for lice and mites - I would go the extra step and worm them all too, just to be on the safe side.

    What are you feeding them? I would give them a good quality layer's pellet, and they should also have free access to grit as well as the oyster shell. If you have feather-pickers on your hands you might also like to give them a little extra protein to try and alleviate that problem.

    You can also buy chicken saddles (or aprons) that strap onto the girls to protect them from feather-picking . I would do that for the girl with the bare back at the very least, so she can start healing and grow some new feathers. That's about all you can do other than give them a nice warm coop and comfy nest boxes to lay in.

    You bring up an excellent question: How old are the birds? You would not be the first person to fall victim to false advertising. Gee, I have even heard of people advertising pullets and selling innocent first-timers roosters instead! They inevitably show up on this site some time later, asking when they can expect their first eggs.

    It's really hard to tell the age of a hen, too. So as to how old your girls are....it's anyone's guess.

    Krista
     
  3. ShannonMC

    ShannonMC Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 16, 2014
    I did go ahead and start wormer about 5 days ago- I had read somewhere on here to do that every 6 months? I think. I figured out which hen was laying tonight cooincidently that one with the darker pink/bright red vent- no surprise there I guess. We just started our fall season. I will do what you said and get a saddle- they look easy to make. I have been rubbing Vicks on her- I think it helped. I guess I will keep waiting. If I don't see an improvement in their laying I guess I will look into getting some new birds. They are sweet girls- but I need layers that was our purpose for getting them- we are only allowed 5 birds per our city code, and I don't want non producers taking up space at this point with such a limit on the number of birds. Thanks for listening ;) Have a good day!

    Pax,
    Shannon
     
  4. ShannonMC

    ShannonMC Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 16, 2014
    oh yes and the protein thing- I will do that too! ;) They are getting good feed from Tractor Supply- Durmor I think something like that.
     
  5. woody1

    woody1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Shannon, I'll bet your hens are at a minimum finished with their first season of laying. They are going into molt. Sad as it is to say, you must replace your hens annually if you really want production. Some folks send their old layers to freezer camp. Some people sell, or give 'em away with or without a story about how old they are, etc. We gave some of ours to a friend who is willing to wait out the molt and deal with less than top production. Yours may or may not have had good care during their life and you're perhaps dealing with that also.
     
  6. Toddrick

    Toddrick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My production Red is one and a half, and she has laid an egg almost everyday this summer. A couple weeks ago, when the temps dropped as the days keep getting shortrer she started just laying every other day, and she is losing feathers (molting I think). It's my first winter with chickens, but I thought this was completely normal for even the best laying breeds to lay every other day in the winter. They say the best layers can produce 300 eggs a year, yet there are 365 days in a year, so they have to take a break sometime.
     
  7. ShannonMC

    ShannonMC Out Of The Brooder

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    Good to know all this- lol -my husband who has been gone out of town all week, commented tonight about the non producers and what we'll do with them - but I know we need to give it a few weeks and see if they are molting. I see there are a few feathers on the ground in the pen, but not enough to make me think molting is going on YET- they molt at their heads first right? I sure would be happy if they all were laying every other day, but I can't figure out why the two aren't at all.

    I called the original owner today and she said supposedly they were 6 months in April when she got them, so if they molt at 1 year we are one time for a molt, as they would be a year now. She said "they molt?" and said she never noticed any of her birds molting..lol . I believe her- she's just way to innocently nice to be hiding anything.

    I live in Kansas, it's fall here. I know the first person that replied lived in Australia, and she said it's spring there.

    I had a good look over the birds tonight and the old dark red hen has all her new pin feathers coming in her bald spot- I have been putting Vick's on her back- guess that stuff really works well deterring other hens from nipping her feathers, and now finally they are growing back. I need to make her a chicken saddle this weekend.

    I really really appreciate the help and hearing the experiences from others. Thanks very much!

    Shannon
     
  8. ShannonMC

    ShannonMC Out Of The Brooder

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    Oh and I looked more at the bird's colors online, I think two of them might be Production Reds- they are lighter in color. I am just going off web pictures. The dark red one looks like a RIR for sure, but they other two are a different lighter red- like mixed or something. I will have to post pics and see if that needs to be straightened out too.
     

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