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Uh-oh... Is it time to move them?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by cyw iar, Nov 6, 2012.

  1. cyw iar

    cyw iar In the Brooder

    Hi all - I have an egg-laying, chicken age, time of year question:

    I just did the math and realised that our 6 gold-laced wyandottes are just about 5 months/20 weeks old (got them at 1-2 days old in the first few days of June). Our chicken "palace" (otherwise known as the henhaus) has taken considerably longer than you'd think it would take two architects to build anything - it's almost done, but not quite. Nothing a hard and fast weekend couldn't accomplish.

    However - currently the girls and their rooster are living on our screened in porch in the Hudson Valley where it has finally started dipping below 30F at night (we all survived the storm, but the hens and Henry were terrified when a piece of the plastic sheeting i had put up to protect them blew around in the 70mph gusts) (they're fine now). So the question is somewhat complicated, and in parts:

    1. Should I anticipate them starting to lay this late in the year, given that they seem to be about the right age, or will they wait til the days start to get longer again in the spring?
    2. Do chickens generally molt first and then start to lay (ours have not molted, but I think I heard/read this somewhere)?
    3. Because they seem to be the right age, should I transition them to layer feed?
    4. If they start laying now, on the porch, will they have more difficulty transitioning to the henhaus (and could I then use this as ammunition to get my husband to agree we need to finish and the hens can't possibly over-winter on the porch?)?

    Last edited: Nov 6, 2012

  2. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    1. They may being laying very soon, or they may wait until springtime. You just never know; however, it's been my experience that you can count on at least SOME of them to begin laying any time now. Are their combs turning quite red? If so, eggs will be forthcoming very soon.

    2. They won't molt until next fall. It depends on the time of year and their age.

    3. I personally do not give them layer feed until I see that first egg from the batch of pullets that are from the same hatch. It's better for them to not "push" the laying. But I WOULD go ahead and buy some the next time you're at the feed store - along with oyster shell (which should be given free choice in a separate dish WHEN THEY BEGIN LAYING).

    4. Most definitely you can use that for ammo! BUT - for now, and I would do this ASAP - give them a place to lay. You can use many things, and without seeing your porch it's tough to know what will work best. Any box will do, even a cardboard box, so long as it's large enough. Just make sure it is sturdy, has sides on it and a lip on the front to hold in SHAVINGS (I don't recommend straw or hay, as they can ingest it & have crop issues). Add a golf ball or a wooden egg (my females don't believe a golf ball is an egg...I bought wooden eggs from a craft store, and those work MUCH better) so they know where they are to lay. Then, when you transition them to the coop, put that box into the coop near the new nest boxes.

    Best of luck!
  3. cyw iar

    cyw iar In the Brooder

    Excellent advice! I'll get or make them a couple of nests tonight with the golf balls. Their combs have been getting redder by the day.

    Our porch is 3-sided on the south side of the house, about 8 feet wide by maybe 20 or so long, covered and screened. I've put a few stacks of haybales donated by the horses on the east side that they all roost on at night; the rest of the porch floor is pretty open, with an old chair and a cafe-style table. The whole is bedded in about 4" of shavings, with plastic sheeting nailed up on the east and west sides for wind protection. It's probably pretty swank by chicken standards, but I haven't yet made any provisions for nesting. I'll do that right away!

    Again, thanks for the swift reply!

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