Which Hen is Laying the Eggs?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lisabailey, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. lisabailey

    lisabailey Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 1, 2009
    Snoqualmie Valley
    We have 8 hens 4 RIRs, 2 Black Australorps, and 2 EEs - in a tractor with attached run. This is our first year with hens, so we got started late (we were told) trying the light thing to keep them laying through the winter. We didn't want to drag an electrical cord half way across the yard, so we installed 2 solar spotlights - one on each side - directed into the coop "window." The hens turned 1 on October 7, and during the summer in the full thrust of our longest days, we actually got 8 eggs/day, but generally speaking we've averaged 6/day since they started laying.

    Initially, the light seemed to do the trick, but then the eggs started to drop off, until we went for a couple of weeks with no eggs at all. I just figured the light hadn't worked and we'd try something else next winter. Well, about a week ago, we started getting eggs again...first 1 a day, slowly increasing so that we've gotten 4/day for 2 days this week...all while it is getting colder and the days are getting shorter.

    I want to get more hens, but I'd like to get more who would be most likely to keep laying through the winter. Is there any way to tell which of the hens is laying the eggs I'm now getting?
     
  2. they'reHISchickens

    they'reHISchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 31, 2008
    Reading
    Your 1 year old hens likely went through a molt and that was the reason they stopped laying for a few weeks.
    I have read of putting food coloring on the vents of hens to mark the eggs as they come out to identify layers. The old standard is that in laying hens, you can fit two-three fingerwidths between their pelvic bones. Nonlayers are narrower.
    I find you can make pretty good guesses by looking at their combs and comparing. The brightest, freshest looking combs are likely the layers. It's hormonal. The very best way to determine who is laying is to pull up a lawn chair, get a good drink in your hand, and sit and watch the world ( and your chickens) for a day. See who is in the nest and when and what they leave you:) It's great for your blood pressure and develops your sense of humor too!
     
  3. Sir Birdaholic

    Sir Birdaholic Night Knight

    RIR- brown egg
    BA- lt. brown egg
    EE- (usually) pink, green, or blue egg

    What color is your egg? All of the breeds are usually good winter layers.
     
  4. lisabailey

    lisabailey Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 1, 2009
    Snoqualmie Valley
    The eggs are all a varying shade of brown (or so I am told.) Which brings me to the "lawnchair" suggestion. I am the primary chicken keeper, and I am blind, so that's not going to work for me. And, I doubt very seriously that I could get my teen boys to "take up the watch" for me.

    Someone else had mentioned the possibility of a molt, but having never experienced it before, I guess I had different expectations. I figured when it happened, I'd have near-naked birds with feathers everywhere. I do remember thinking the girls felt thinner, but then there were never piles of feathers everywhere. Molting would be about the only thing that answers the "laying, quit laying, started laying again in the dark of winter" question. It could be that the EE's are just running behind the flock. The eggs trickled off when they stopped, and then they started back up again with 1/day, then 2/day, so that would make sense as to why no EE-colored eggs so far.

    Maybe I should just install a "coop cam!" <smile> Thanks for your help!
     
  5. dandelionheart

    dandelionheart Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 15, 2010
    Lafayette, Indiana
    Our hens just upped production from 0-1 to 3-5 in the last week... we hadn't implemented anything new and had put lights on them quite a few weeks ago... So I don't know what is going on. [​IMG] But I am happy with the eggs! [​IMG] Too bad your eggs are all the same color... I don't know how many nesting boxes you have, but some of our hens have a preference... If you have current pictures of the hens we may be able to give a good guess about who is laying.
     
  6. lisabailey

    lisabailey Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 1, 2009
    Snoqualmie Valley
    Pictures would be a hoot. My family (14, 16, and husband - all boys) call them "Scarlets" for the RIRs, "Diablos" for the BAs, and "Gingers" for the EE's. If a particular bird falls within that category, that is her name. So, if I sent them out to get pictures, we'd probably have 4 RIRs which were technically all the same bird, 2 BA shots of the same birdd, and so on.

    I've got 3 nesting boxes which do triple duty as dust-bathing facilities and sleeping quarters for about half of them (we've got plenty of roosting space, but about half our birds have simply opted to sleep in a pile in the nesting boxes filled with wood shavings.) For laying purposes, they don't seem to have a preference...they kind of go in cycles. Sometimes, the eggs will be scattered among the 3 boxes, sometimes they'll all be in 1 box where they've been laid, and sometimes one of my BAs goes broody and she will have gathered all the eggs out of the other boxes and will be sitting on all of them, yelling and screaming at me to give her some privacy, please. I simply lift her off the eggs, retrieve them from the nesting box, and put her down again, and the next day, we play the game all over again (though she appears to be continuing to lay eggs, given the egg count I get.) After a few days, she gets over it. I'm hoping to borrow a BA rooster in the spring and see if I can get any chicks out of the deal.

    I was just handling one of the hens this morning, and come to think of it, her feathers are downy soft...kind of fuzzy-feeling. I asked my husband if he had noticed any feathers laying around, and he said, "No...well, maybe...not sure." <chuckle>
     

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