We're getting eggs - now what?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by dtsnyder, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. dtsnyder

    dtsnyder Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 5, 2009
    First of all, I'm new to raising chickens and fairly new to BYC (y'all helped me with some rooster problems a few weeks ago - thanks!).

    I apologize for not obeying the cardinal rule of msg boards and searching through the threads for answers - I've got a toddler who won't "let" me.

    So, after 5 1/2 months of feeding our Barred Rocks (20 hens, 2 roos), one has decided to reciprocate and has provided us "food" for the past three days. We finally are getting eggs!

    I have a few questions on what to do next.

    1) I remember reading about oyster shells - do we need to get those and how do we feed them?

    2) I currently have 2 more bags of chick grower - should I return it and get layer or can I feed out these two bags?

    3) Will the eggs always be on the smallish side or will they get bigger as the hens get older? I assumed they were "large brown eggs" and these are definately not large

    4) We have 2 roos - one is the clear "alpha". Is it okay to keep both (we recently got rid of 3 others) or should we downsize. And what would it do to the laying habits if we got rid of both?

    5) We live in MT and temps have been dipping into the negatives at night (and sometimes during the day) so we've been using heat lamps on those days. Is this okay? When we don't use heat, the coop can get down to 15F and I'm not sure if that's too cold. But I also worry about providing heat/light and it messing up their laying habits.

    6) How long will it take for all of the hens to start laying? I'm almost positive we only have one (maybe, possibly two) laying right now.

    This has certainly been a fun adventure - just trying to learn the ropes so we do everything correctly.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. crazyhen

    crazyhen Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 26, 2008
    mtns of ,NC.
    Is the feed medicated? If so I would return it. If not then add some ground oyster shell to it so they will have enough calcium for their shells. Eggs will always be smaller the first couple of months of laying. Sometimes you may get a soft shelled one or a double yolked one due to a glitch in the reproductive tract.
    The rooster has nothing to do with the laying of the hens. Just the fertility of the eggs and protection he may give the hens. Light will encourage the hens to lay. It affects their pituatary gland and says its time. They would need about 14 hrs of light a day to lay well. That said they will lay come the longer days of spring and be healthier for the wait. Different hens lay at different ages even if they are the same kind and age. they lay when they get ready. LOL I love them too. Jean
  3. Nemo

    Nemo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 22, 2008
    N'rn Wisconsin
    Yes, you should be giving them crushed oyster shells now. They can be put out in a little feeder of some sort so the hens can get to them as they want. We have a little metal feeder that attaches to the wall.

    I would see if you can return the chick feed and get layer feed... They have different nutritional needs now.

    Eggs will range in size for a while. They will eventually settle down to a normal large size.

    As long as the two roosters get along well enough, and the hens aren't showing signs of being over attended to, then you can keep them. Getting rid of one or both won't change the laying habits of the hens... Women don't need men around to produce their egg every month.

    Providing heat is ok. We live in n'rn Wisconsin, and use a heater bulb to help keep our coop in the 20s. As long as the chooks were allowed to acclimate to with the change in the seasons, they should be able to handle some pretty cold temps... Especially if you have winter-hardy birds and 2x4 roosts so they can snuggle their belly feathers down over their toes.

    Providing light is a must if you want them to lay during the winter. They need about 13-14 hours of light per day, otherwise they'll stop (not start) laying until spring rolls around and the sun returns. We have a couple lights on a timer.

    The rest of the hens will start laying when they feel like it. There's no way to rush them. Some might not start until spring, no matter what you do. We have fifteen Buff Orpingtons, and were getting 12-14 eggs per day until it turned cold in November. Now, we get 6-10.
  4. RHewitt

    RHewitt Chillin' With My Peeps

    1. Oyster shells are crushed and you can feed them in a small feeder just like regular feed. If you chickens free range you may not need oyster shells during the months when they can get fresh greens and insects.

    2. If you can exchange the Grower I would if not it is OK to use it up. 16% protein layer is what you will need and the roosters can eat that too.

    3. Your eggs will get to full size as the pullets mature into full size hens. Barred Rocks produce nice a medium to large egg so look for them to get larger.

    4. Getting rid of the roosters has no effect on laying at all. Hens lay eggs with or without a rooster. If you want to hatch some of your own eggs one day then a rooster is needed to fertilize the eggs. Fertile and Infertile eggs have no differecne inlook or taste until the eggs are incubated. Keeping two roosters is not a bad idea since they have already established a pecking order and don't harrass your hens too much. It is always nice to have a backup if one gets injured or sick.

    5. More light actually encourages laying so you are fine with the heat lamps. I am sure the birds enjoy the heat in temps that cold. I live is South Carolina our coldest night has only been 16 degress and that is rare for us.

    6. 20 weeks is a good average to start laying. Some a little sooner and other take a little longer . You are close to having all your ladies laying great tasting large brown eggs.

    Gald to to help. Take Care and stay warm!
  5. sandypaws

    sandypaws Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 12, 2008
    desert of calif
    hmmm...everybody is different.. this is what i do.
    1....oystershell i just throw all over with the scratch feed.. once a month for the oystershell
    2... i would just get a bag of lay crumble and mix it...
    3 ..eggs should get bigger with time
    4.. depends on how many hens you got..2 should be enough for a small flock.
    5 i dont live someplace where it gets THAT cold.. sorry
    6 all are different like people.. depends on breed, age, light, heat,, all should be laying by spring:D
  6. lovemychicns

    lovemychicns Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 22, 2008
    Rockwell, NC
    I am new to chickens also and have some questions.

    What do you do when you have hens of different ages. I have one that just turned 20 weeks. the others range from 15 wks to 9 wks. I have 6 hens, two roos right now. If she starts laying and being fed layer how do I feed the others?
    Do I need to seperate her for feeding I think it would be impossible to seperate her from the others. They all run in a pak and eat at the same time?

  7. farmergal

    farmergal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 21, 2008
    Nor Cal
    From what I've read, I think you can stick with the chick feed (as long as it's non-medicated) and simply provide free-choice oyster shell for calcium, and lots of fresh greens (which also have plenty of calcium). I have 3 hens laying now but I'm still feeding Flock Raiser because most of the rest of the flock is a month behind them. The eggs have all been very thick-shelled and solid, and I've noticed that the girls who are at point of lay (or close to it) tend to go for the oyster shell more. I also noticed a layer escape from the yard and eat egg shells from the compost pile (BAD girl, need to stop throwing eggshells in the compost now)... anyway, point is, they know what they need and will supplement if they're not getting it in their feed.

    If anyone disagrees, or I'm doing anything wrong, please feel free to speak up because I'm new to this!

    ETA: that post was directed to the question about feeding multi-age chickens.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
  8. dtsnyder

    dtsnyder Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 5, 2009
    Thanks for everyone's replies.

    I will try to return the feed - nothing has been opened and get the layer crumbles because I'm fairly certain it is medicated. I hadn't thought of that before!

    You don't know how helpful y'all have been in answering all of my questions - I really appreciate it.

    I can't wait until I can contribute to the forum instead of being "all questions"

    Thanks again!

    BTW - I had to laugh about the comment about women not needing a man around to release eggs - I hadn't looked at it from that angle before. [​IMG]

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by