When and how to replace our flock?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by vjbakke, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. vjbakke

    vjbakke Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 21, 2011
    Here's where we're at right now. We have 5 hens that are 2 yrs old, finishing up their first full moult. We have 4 hens that are 1 yr old ( all EE) We don't have the space to start another flock and cull all of our hens we have now. I'm not that happy with the rate of production of the EE so i don't think I will get more in the future. Our RSL were great layers their first year, not so great now with moulting but we'll see after they start laying again and it's spring.

    I am thinking we want to replace them all next year. The ones we have now will we will eat, stewing hens maybe we'll see how the meat is. Because of our space issue I don't think we can get away with not having many months with no eggs. :( .

    Would it be best to order new chicks then process the hens we have now? The new chicks would need to go into the coop ( using it as a brooder) when they are about 2 wks. Our brooder is too small to handle them any larger. Then we just put the light in the coop and use that as a brooder.

    I want to get these breed possibly - RIR, RSL, partridge plymouth rock,columbian wyandotte,black australorp.

  2. Jungleexplorer

    Jungleexplorer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 19, 2012
    Abilene, Texas
    My Coop
    EE's are considered above average egg layers and their production rate should increase until they are about one and a half years old. Most breeds reach their maximum laying potential around 1 1/2 yrs old. But, how many eggs they lay is dependent on many factors, other then just the breed. Chickens are light sensitive and lay less or not at all during fall and winter months when the days are shorter. You can subvert this natural instinct by providing them additional artificial light in their coop. Nutrition is another factor that will affect egg production. Make sure your birds are getting the required amount of balanced feed. An average chicken requires a minimum of 8oz of good quality layer feed a day for good egg production. Giving them more then that can increase production a little. Healthy living conditions are important as well. If a bird is weak do to illness caused by environmental factors, it will use most of it's energy to stay healthy rather then egg production.

    Your RSL should be good for another year or two and then start to decline. I would keep what you have and start raising chicks to replace them next year. Unless you just want to make the jump to production breeds like RIRs.

    Here is an excellent article about chickens and egg production.

    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Sounds like you are facilities limited which creates some difficulties. But first some basic information.

    It is not unusual for a pullet to lay straight through her first winter and keep laying until the following fall/winter. Then when the days get shorter, they molt. It’s not unusual but all of them don’t do it this way. It happens often enough that some new chicken owners think it’s to be expected that all hens will lay all the time each and every year. It does not happen that way.

    Some can finish the molt in less than 2 months. Some may take 5 months. When they molt, the pretty much quit laying and use the nutrients they have been eating to grow feathers instead of laying eggs. After they finish an adult molt, the eggs are generally a little larger. After the first adult molt, their productivity stays way up there, but after each following adult molt, a decent sized flock will usually lay about 15% fewer eggs. I say it this way because an individual hen might or might not experience the exact 15%. Each one is an individual. But if you have enough for averages to mean anything, this is what you can expect.

    If you have fed them through a molt, why would you now want to get rid of them just before what should be a really good laying season?

    I find it better to judge a hen over a laying season, not just part of the season. And them being EE’s has nothing to do with them being good or bad layers. There is no genetic link to egg shell color and egg laying productivity. If they come from a flock that lays well, they will lay well. If they come from a flock that does not lay well, they won’t. If you are disappointed in your EE’s, don’t get any more from that flock. That flock obviously does not have the traits you want.

    I don’t know if you can manage something like this, but what a lot of us do is to rotate new pullets every year. Say you want a flock of ten laying hens, just to have numbers to talk about. Every year, bring in five pullets in the spring. By the time fall comes around some should be laying and will possibly/probably lay straight through the winter, even if you do not provide extra light. Not all will do this but some could.

    When they finish their laying season, quit laying, and start to molt, process you five oldest hens. Keep your five intermediate hens that should be going into molt for the first time and feed them through the winter. You should like the eggs and productivity you get out of them the following laying season.

    You are practically there for this system, but you need the facilities to be able to raise and integrate the five new pullets. After those pullets start to lay, you will have 15 hens laying until the molt starts.

    I don’t know if you can work up something that fits your unique system based on this, but hopefully you will get something that helps you out of this long post.

    Good luck!
  4. vjbakke

    vjbakke Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 21, 2011
    Thanks, We do supplement light. This winter had some very cold weather. We had goo luck with integrating the hens we have now when the younger ones were being added to the older ones. I would just rather have them be the same age and not have to deal with integrating them. They get very good nutrition and always keep a clean coop. I am hoping now that it's warning up and they will get more natural light things will pick up. The EE have been laying more in the past weeks. I got used to the RSL that would lay just an egg just about every day. Our Dom lays 3-4 eggs a week and that about what the EE are doing.

    I also love getting new chicks, so I think next spring ( 2014) we will get new chicks and the hens we have now will go in the freezer.

  5. cinch920

    cinch920 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 4, 2013
    Central Nebraska
    I find this very informative. I also have a small coop and would like to get more chickens eventually. I'm debating what to do with my older birds who are slowing down on laying eggs. I love to keep my older birds around cuz they help keep the bugs down and I just enjoy them. However, its just not financially reasonable because i have could younger hens laying more eggs on a day to day basis which means more eggs for me to sell and make a profit. So in order to make more room in my coop, i think its necessary to cull my older birds and make room for the new. I consider my birds as livestock not as pets.

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