They still haven't laid an egg...not enough feed??

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Thecowboysgirl, Jul 14, 2011.

  1. Thecowboysgirl

    Thecowboysgirl Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 29, 2011
    My flock is 25 weeks old. We have not yet had an egg layed. I have 3 RiRs, three BO, and a Barred Rock rooster. Oh and a mixed breed runt who was abandoned at the animal shelter and wound up with us. She is approx a month younger than the other hens.

    About a month ago I started leaving them out all day long (well, anywhere from 6-8 hours). They go into a pasture which is about an acre. I was not giving them any feed out there, I figured they'd hunt better if they didn't have a free meal. They would come in sometime in the afternoon and stay in their coop w/ feed, grit, etc.

    However, it is July in SW Florida and REALLY hot. They don't utilize their whole area b/c it's too hot, and they want to stay under the shade tree, and also b/c a lot of it is wide open with not cover and they don't feel safe out there I guess. I just started leaving them out even longer (almost sunup to sundown) so I started giving them some feed out there. They are really hungry and excited when I give it to them. Is it possible they haven't layed yet because they weren't eating enough?

    Or are they not laying because it is so hot? Will hens not start to lay if they mature during the heat of the summer? Anything else I might have missed? They have nice nesting boxes in their stall, but not outside. I am going to build them a portable one but I haven't had time yet. Every night when we bring them in we check scrupulously for eggs in their turnout area- I don't think we've missed any.

    We were hoping to have eggs by now.
     
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Hello!

    20 weeks is just an "average" age that hens start laying. Some hens do take longer to get started. One thing that comes to mind is that you hens could possibly be laying outside, and you're not finding it yet.

    When you go outside, reach for the hens and see if they "squat" for you? This is a sign of maturity, and egglaying is very close when they behave like this. It's what they do for a rooster when they're ready to be mated. They look at you like you're their rooster.

    I also free range my hens alot. Especially when it's hot out. I am surrounded by woods, and they take cover in the shade. The thing is, you've got to keep them locked into their coop and run longer, because they need to learn to use the nesting boxes. As soon as I see them squatting, then they stay locked into my coop with run access only most of the day, then they get to go out when I get home from work, until they return to the coop in the evening, just before dark. They do come home on their own. Keeping them locked in during the day is what teaches them the routine of using the nest boxes for laying.

    I also only feed them layer feed inside the coop. Water is in the run. They can go inside the coop and have layer food anytime they want to. This gives them something to look forward to, and a reason to want to come home to roost.

    Take care and I'll bet you'll see some eggs real soon,
    Sharon
     
  3. ginbart

    ginbart Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 9, 2008
    Bloomsburg, PA
    I make sure mine have feed and water at all times. If they are outside are they able to get water? I carry my water and feeders outside because like your's they stay under the tree when it's so hot. Water is very important for them.

    Can they go outside and come back in by them selves?
     
  4. TrystInn

    TrystInn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 16, 2009
    Southern Arizona
    Free range birds need supporting feed of sufficient protein percentages to keep them in lay. What color are the combs of your ladies?
     
  5. Thecowboysgirl

    Thecowboysgirl Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 29, 2011
    They do have water outside. I put a bowl under the tree for them but there is also a trough that is low enough that they can drink out of it in case that runs out or gets tipped.

    They always have free choice layer mash inside, and then I get them into their pasture by throwing bird seed out there (it is millet, sunflower, some other stuff). So the first thing they do is run into the pasture and eat up all of that. Then they hunt bugs for an hour or so and then they sit under the tree for the hottest part of the day. Then they come in. The other reason I didn't put feed out is that they used to share a pasture with my goats, so the goats would have eaten it. But they are no longer in the same pasture, so...

    I am picking up some scratch feed for them next feed run, I thought I'd put that outside for them too. I was also annoyed b/c they would eat all the oats/seeds out of their layer mash but leave the gritty stuff at the bottom, but I discovered when I feed them the same feed outside in a bowl they eat every speck of it. So I now have a use for the dregs in their feeder every day: will put it out for them and they can eat it out of a bowl = no more waste.

    Some of the hens are getting red in the face, some are not (I think about 2 our of 3 of each breed are turning red). That means they are nearly going to lay, right?

    I REALLY don't think they're laying outside, I check very thoroughly with the help of my two dogs. I was willing to sacrifice a couple to the dogs knowing they'd at least find them for me, even if I only saw them getting crunched down. No eggs. Trust me, my boy would not miss it!!

    I guess I will try putting feed out for them daily, esp to get rid of night time dregs, and see if it helps. I don't expect the runt to lay yet, but the others have golf balls in their boxes and everything lol. Tomorrow I will get to work on their little outdoor nesting boxes. I had them in a different pasture the other day and they just loved hanging out in the goat shed.
     
  6. Thecowboysgirl

    Thecowboysgirl Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 29, 2011
    PS They always come in every afternoon and spend the night locked up. MANY predators around here.
     
  7. Thecowboysgirl

    Thecowboysgirl Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 29, 2011
    One last PS-

    I have solved the problem of lost free range eggs. As soon as I have some to use for training, my female GSD is an awesome searcher. She does novice SAR, and long ago was taught a "where's the poop" command to find lost poops in the dark or grass for pickup.

    I am certain I can teach her that her new job is to locate my lost eggs lol.
     
  8. Thecowboysgirl

    Thecowboysgirl Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 29, 2011
    As for squatting, they are not particularly tame. I herd them in and out everyday but they will not tolerate petting. I don't think I could test for this. The only one who likes to be petted is the runt and I don't think she's old enough to lay yet.
     
  9. crossgirl

    crossgirl Day Dream Believer

    Mar 15, 2011
    Lakeland, FL
    You don't have to actually pet them. Just be in a position where you are standing over them and then reach downward. If they're ready, they should squat. My RIR is 19 weeks. I finally found her secret nest behind a shed. She was precariously balancing on 16 eggs!!!!
     
  10. itsy

    itsy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    New England
    Quote:What percentage would you recommend?
     

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