Topic of the Week - Let's talk about eggs

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sumi, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    This week I'd like to talk about the reason 99% of chicken keepers get chickens: Eggs. There are so many different aspects to eggs that we can chat about, I'm going to throw a few ideas and questions out here to get things started and you all can add yours. Here goes...

    - Which breeds or types of chickens are good egglayers?
    - How do you get the best production from your layers?
    - At what ages did you get the first eggs from your pullets?
    - What do you do with your extra eggs? (Yes… I know it's winter for most of us at the moment and that's only a dream but... [​IMG])
    - Eggs of different colours - Which breeds lay which colour eggs?



    For a complete list of our Topic of the Week threads, see here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/topic-of-the-week-thread-archive
     
  2. I Love Layers

    I Love Layers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    - Which breeds or types of chickens are good egglayers?
    It depends on how long you are planning on keeping these layers. If you are ok with getting hybrids then you should only plan on keeping them for 2 years or less. As hybrids get older the eggs become larger and they lay less. If you are interested in a bird that lays many eggs but isn't a hybrid the Leghorn is the best. I have had an egg everyday from my leghorns for over 2 months in a row.

    - How do you get the best production from your layers?
    Artificial lighting and making sure they havw enough protein. Also letting them free range helps get them extra protein, calcium and everything else to help with laying.


    - At what ages did you get the first eggs from your pullets.
    This is a very vague question. From my Leghorns it's 16 weeks, for hybrids it was 18, for dual purpose it was around 20.
    But like i said you never said what pullets. Every breed starts at a different time my cochins have started laying ar anywhere from 5 months 9 months


    - What do you do with your extra eggs? (Yes… I know it's winter for most of us at the moment and that's only a dream but... ;) )
    Sell them. Why wouldn't you want to make money off of them


    - Eggs of different colours - Which breeds lay which colour eggs?
    Blue: Cream legbar or Aracauna
    Dark Brown: Certain varieties of Marans such as black copper or blue.
    Speckled: Welsummer
    Olive: Olive Egger
    Brown: Hybirds such as Red Sex Link or Black Sex Link, or Wyandottes or Naked Necks
    Crean: Faverolle
    White: Leghorn



    [​IMG]
    Here is a really fun chart to play around with
     
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  3. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    - Which breeds or types of chickens are good egglayers?

    In my experience… Leghorns, Bluebells, (hatchery) RIR, Sussex

    - How do you get the best production from your layers?

    Keep them relaxed and happy and feed them properly. Layers pellets here and some treats in-between.

    - At what ages did you get the first eggs from your pullets?

    Oooooh…. Anything from 18 weeks to 8 months. I had so many hens over the years, I think we covered all the ages lol Average with my flocks have been around 23-25 weeks though.

    - What do you do with your extra eggs?

    Give them away at the moment. I only get a few extras. When I have lots I sell them.
     
  4. Lizardlicks

    Lizardlicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I did not expect my EE's to be as great of egg layers as they were this last year. I got them because I wanted chickens with beards and muffs, and pretty eggs, and figured the egg count from them would just be supplemental to the welsummers and marans, but then it turned out once they started laying I got an egg a day without fail until they molted mid November. It will certainly be interesting to see what they do in their second year here. I'm expecting them to give me bigger eggs less often, but they might surprise me again! My Welsummer Rose gave me the first egg at 19 weeks though.

    I don't try to force production out of my birds. As much as they're there for eggs, I get other benefits out of them too. When allowed to free range, they obliterate bugs, and they produce so much compost! Both worth their weight in gold for me, since i provide food for my family through our little vegetable garden. I'd rather let them have a natural rest cycle through winter, keep them in good laying shape for longer, and reap other benefits even when they've stopped egg production.

    Last year I did have some extra eggs, but not quite enough to sell. Usually I'd take the older eggs and hard boil them. I use them in salads and sandwiches, and I want to try making picked eggs at some point. I want to add more pullets to the flock in the spring, so we'll see what they produce this year, and if it's enough to sell.

    I have two EEs, one lays pale blue eggs, and the other is a marans cross that gives me pretty seafoam green eggs.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
  5. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    - Which breeds or types of chickens are good egglayers? I've been happy with many of the breeds and varieties I've had. For out and out production, the Red Sex Links I've had are stellar, but I lost a couple of them due to reproductive issues and they tend to go like gangbusters for the first 2 years and then just sorta fizzle. That's not a rule, by the way, and some folks have RSL which produce nicely for much longer. I had Buff Brahmas and Light Brahmas, as well. They laid very well, but they are so big bodied that they tended to break previously laid eggs as they tussled around settling into the nest boxes. Admittedly my nest boxes were not quite large enough for such big birds, but I had no way to change that. They did continue to lay well during the winter months, a big plus. I am down to just one of those now, and good old "Tank" just keeps on giving. I've been very pleased with my Easter Eggers. They aren't prolific but they are steady. One of mine, "Agatha", has laid consistently all winter long, and we've had a bad winter this year - temperature wise, snowfall amounts, and so many cloudy, dark days that it was hard to tell what time the sun actually went down. My older Cuckoo Marans has stopped for the winter, but she's as reliable as clockwork when the days lengthen - not big eggs, not typically dark Marans eggs, but she's so steady. My Wellsummers went into the winter as young pullets, before producing any eggs, but one of the two of them has been very busy out there. I also have Blue Andelusians, Silkies, White Cochins, a White Orpington, Ohio Buckeyes, and some additional Easter Eggers. RIght now I'm averaging 7-9 eggs a day, but frankly it's been in the sub zeros and single digits here for such a prolonged time that I'm doing well to get out there and check water, feed, and try to get eggs before they freeze, so going out there to play "who's egg is this?" is not on my mind. [​IMG]

    I think the critical thing for each person to define is the phrase, "good egglayers" For some that's an egg almost daily. For some it's the size of the eggs, for others the quality of the eggs, for still others a combination of the three. Me, I'm content to go out there and find whatever bounty they have left for me. The numbers are less important than the quality.

    - How do you get the best production from your layers? I just provide the best diet I can, keep fresh water available at all times, and a good environment. I feed All Flock or even Grower/Starter and provide oyster shell on the side. That way I don't have to buy new foods for different genders and ages of chicks, and when you have to drive 50 miles one way to pick up feed that's important. I also hard boil eggs that have frozen and older or cracked eggs. I put them in a plastic grocery bag and then put that in an additional grocery bag (the shells will rip the inner bag) and beat the stuffin' out of it, then feed it to them shell fragments and all. The calcium from the shells is probably minimal, but the protein boost, especially in winter, is very welcome. Parasite control is also a big factor. In my opinion, most birds can handle a light load quite easily, but we have to be always diligent to control it.

    Mine get plenty of outside free time, even now. Temps are low here, but even in the single digits with over a foot of snow on the ground they still head for that outside door and are out in the yard in a flash, even the Silkies! Making sure you've done your best as far as predator proofing goes a long way too, because chickens that are badly frightened by even an attempted "break-in" can turn off the assembly line. So confidence in their surroundings is important, as are keeping major changes in their coop/run and flock balance. Stressed chickens sometimes take a couple of weeks to get back into production.

    I keep the nests clean and dry. Right now that means straw, because my access to hay has dried up. <sigh> I don't provide winter supplemental light to mimic longer daylight. I know that those who do really like it and there's not a thing wrong with it if that's what you want to do. I just figured that winter is stressful enough on their bodies and if those little bodies are saying that it's "rest time" then that's what they'll get. They'll lay when they're ready, and I'm not going to perish if the nests aren't full every day.

    - At what ages did you get the first eggs from your pullets? That depends so much on the breed or variety. My first egg was from my delightful little Ida, smallest Red Sex Link in the group, and she was just 17 weeks old on that same day. It's so hard to answer that question - I had late season pullets this year and some of them actually started midwinter. They were hatched in late April, and some still haven't laid, others, like my Wellie, started in late December.

    - What do you do with your extra eggs? (Yes… I know it's winter for most of us at the moment and that's only a dream but... [​IMG]) I have a reliable circle of customers who buy eggs. In winter, when supplies are limited, they are happy to wait until I get a full carton and I give them a call. I sell in 18 packs rather than by the dozen. Gives me an edge over the competition. [​IMG]

    - Eggs of different colours - Which breeds lay which colour eggs? I get a variety of different shades of blue from my Easter Eggers, and have one that gives me eggs that are such a soft brown they look pink. The Wellie eggs I am getting from my mystery lady are deep brown with darker flecks. The Brahmas were light brown. My Chochins lay tan, but they've taken the winter off.

    I think it's important to point out one thing. I know that the majority of people, like me, get chickens for the fresh eggs. The hardest lesson for me to learn was patience. They are living, breathing creatures - they aren't Pez Dispensers. I was so busy waiting for that first egg, then counting and recounting, that every time there was a slowdown I inadvertently made it worse by trying to change this and "fixing" that. Those efforts just confused them more, which slowed them down more. <sigh> It goes without saying that a severe and /or sudden drop in egg production always requires investigation, but most often the cause is right in front of us - first look for molt, seasonal swings, drastic change in the flock dynamics, predators that have frightened them, and then hidden illnesses. A serious illness will usually be readily apparent, but chickens are pros at hiding weakness until they just can't anymore. Here, unless it's an obvious health issue, I check for those others things first.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
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  6. ChickenGrass

    ChickenGrass Chillin' With My Peeps

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    -Which breeds or types of chickens are good egglayers?
    Rhode Island reds, Legbars and leghorns.
    Most types of hybrids are great layers too.
    If you go for pure breeds it depends on the strain,
    There is a strain of buff orpingtons here in Ireland and they only,
    Lay 80 eggs a year per hen.

    - How do you get the best production from your layers?
    I just give them green from the kitchen and garden,
    Also give them clean bedding, fresh water and layers pellets.

    - At what ages did you get the first eggs from your pullets?
    Usually from 18-24 weeks on.
    Purebreds can take longer to start laying.
    I have some barbu D'Anvers that only started to lay properly after 8 months.
    But my hybrid laying hens usually start around 20 weeks.

    - What do you do with your extra eggs?
    With the extra eggs I give them away to family,
    Do some baking (or make pancakes :drool)
    Or I give them into the local bakery/Cafe in return for apple pie or some buns.

    - Eggs of different colours - Which breeds lay which colour eggs?
    Cream legbars - blue eggs
    Easter eggers - blue/Green/Olive eggs
    Oliver egger - Olive eggs.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
  7. I Love Layers

    I Love Layers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @Blooie
    Yours cochins lay white!? Never heard of that.
     
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  8. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    Oh, MY! Thanks for catching that! I did type white instead of tan! Thank you thank you - I'll fix that right now!
     
  9. mymilliefleur

    mymilliefleur Keeper of the Flock

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    - Which breeds or types of chickens are good egglayers?
    High production breeds such as Leghorns and Sexlinks are the best producers, but they tend to stop laying after 2-3 years. Duel purpose breeds may not lay as many eggs per year, but they keep laying well for a number of years. Ornamental breeds such as most bantams, tend not to be the best layers.

    - How do you get the best production from your layers?
    Keeping your birds healthy, and happy, and supplying them with proper nutrition is the key stone to good egg production.
    Some choose to use supplemental light. I do not. I like to give my girls a break in the winter. I handle my birds regularly and typically birds that do not lay or have health issues go to the stew pot. If you have older birds your production is going to go down. Some like to cull their birds every two years, but as long as my as they are laying decently I let them stay in the flock.


    - At what ages did you get the first eggs from your pullets?
    This depends a lot on breed, and when they were hatched. On average, pullets start laying around six months. Slower growing breeds such as Cochins, and Brahmas usually start laying between 7-9 months. Hybrid production ''breeds'' such as sexlinks may lay as early as 4-5 months. If pullets reach POL in the winter, there may be a delay until the daylight increases.

    - What do you do with your extra eggs?
    Pickle 'em, Give them to friends and family, and sell them.

    - Eggs of different colours - Which breeds lay which colour eggs?
    I get a wide range of green and blue eggs from my EEs. My duel purpose breeds lay brown eggs. I hope to add some Marans to my flock soon so I get some dark brown eggs. My Games and d'Uccles lay white/cream eggs. A loose rule of thumb is that heavier duel purpose type breeds with red ear lobes tend to lay brown eggs, and smaller Mediterranean type breeds with white ear lobes tend to lay white eggs. There are of course, exceptions to that rule.
     
  10. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Eggs? Of what do you speak? Chickens lay eggs? “Hey, freeloaders in the back garden ... Come read this!”

    Which breeds or types of chickens are good egg layers?
    Not mine!

    How do you get the best production from your layers?

    We don’t have layers, we have freeloaders!
    [We buy eggs to scramble and feed back to the chickens .. I know! [​IMG]]

    At what ages did you get the first eggs from your pullets?

    So, OK, yes they do lay occasionally .. usually it is 10 eggs then broody, 10 eggs then broody.

    Sadly, due to drive failure, I lost my original records for my 4 year olds but:

    Blondie, Pekin [bantam Cochin] laid her first egg at just under 4 months old.
    LuLu, Frizzle Pekin laid her first egg at 9 months old.
    KiKi, Silkie x Pekin [Frizzle] laid her first egg at 5 months old and
    Crystal, Silkie x Pekin laid her first egg at 5 months old.

    What do you do with your extra eggs?
    Extras? Now you are just rubbing it in! [​IMG]

    Eggs of different colours?

    Cilla, Pekin lays small white eggs.

    Dusty, Bantam Langshan lays bullets! [Below]

    [​IMG]

    Blondie, Pekin lays tan eggs slightly larger than Cilla’s.

    LuLu, 3 year old Frizzle Pekin has not laid an egg for over 12 months but they used to be large and white.

    Crystal, 2 year old Silkie x Pekin lays largish [for a bantam] brown eggs [above].
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
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