Will these chickens lay soon?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by miss maple, Mar 22, 2017.

  1. miss maple

    miss maple Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 22, 2017
    Hi guys,

    I've got a mixed flock between 20-24 weeks. Olive eggers at 20 weeks and Araucanas, Australorps and Leghorns closer to 24 (if the ages when I got them were correct). They're still on grower feed and I have a bag of layer but am unsure of switching them over to the layer if they're not ready for it. They also get fruit and veg scraps/boss/wheat grain treats almost daily and free range in the evenings. Most are getting more red in their faces, but are also going through a mini moult. Will they lay soon? Do I slowly change them over to layer, or keep them on grower until I get the first egg? I've added some photos fingers crossed it works

    Thanks in advance :)
     
  2. miss maple

    miss maple Out Of The Brooder

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    Last edited: Mar 22, 2017
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    I know the suspense is just unbearable! Any day now! But you want to know a little more accurately than that, so here's a "secret" method to predicting when your pullets will start to lay.

    Get the subject between your legs facing backward. Take your first two fingers of each hand and feel for the protruding bones on each side of her vent. If you can get two or more finger widths in between those two bony protrusions, she's going to be laying in the next two or three days, or very very soon. If the bones are still close together and you can only fit one finger width between them, it may be several weeks still before that pullets starts to lay.

    Let us know what the verdict is!

    Oh, and don't start feeding layer until they all start laying. Have oyster shell available for those that are laying.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2017
  4. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Check the label on the grower feed for the protein content. Some grower feeds are actually formulated for meaties, and have a very low protein content to help control growth rate.
    Non-meat breeds need a feed with protein content of at least 18%.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    June, this is one of the very few times I’m going to disagree with you. We all have our own opinions on what they “need’, sometimes they are different. Some of that can be attributed to our different goals.

    I use Dumor feeds. They have a chart on there saying what feeds should be fed at a certain age. Most other brands of feeds have a similar chart. In general, they recommend a Chick Starter with a protein percentage of around 20% for the first 4 to 8 weeks, then switch to a 16% Grower. Several recommend you switch to a 15% protein Finisher/Developer about 13 weeks until age 18 weeks. Most recommend you switch to a 16% layer at 18 weeks but I think it’s better to wait until they actually start to lay. As I’m sure you know, that chart is set up for the commercial layers where they control when the pullets will start to lay by manipulating lights and feed. With our backyard flocks we don’t control it that finely, especially the lights. And with treats or possible foraging our control of the protein levels they eat is usually not controlled that tightly anyway.

    I understand the commercial hybrid layers do not have the larger bodies that our typical backyard chickens have. Our typical backyard flocks do not have the efficiency of converting the feed to eggs the commercial egg laying flocks have where feeding a higher protein feed can cause medical problems. The commercial hybrid layers don’t get the treats, high or low protein, that many of us give out flocks and they don’t forage. All they eat is that layer feed. Those charts are developed for the commercial hybrid layers, not out typical backyard flocks. But the general guidelines still apply to out flocks unless we have a certain situation that changes it.

    This is specifically for flocks that will become layers, not the meaties. Next time you are at a feed store check out the charts on the bags of feed. I know some feeds use different percent proteins for the different stages. You can find 18% protein Grower or Layer instead of 16% in some places. I can’t at my local Tractor Supply. Some people use a 24% Game Bird Starter instead of a 20% chicken Chick Starter. This stuff is not set in stone. In my opinion you have a lot of flexibility in what percentage protein you feed at different stages.

    I do believe in providing a higher protein feed the first month or so to help them feather out faster and get off to a good start. But after that I cut back to a lower protein feed. With the kitchen scraps and garden scraps mine get in season plus with their foraging I don’t control the exact amount of protein they eat in a day anyway. I never switch to Layer since I practically always have juveniles in the flock, I normally feed that 15% Finisher/Developer to the entire flock after the chicks get over 4 weeks of age and offer oyster shell on the side for the ones that need the extra calcium for the egg shells.

    This suits my goals just fine. There are only two of us so I can get two meals out of my chickens when I butcher, even the hens. I get plenty of eggs a good size for my dual purpose hens to lay, I don’t need double extra huge eggs. I give away a lot of my excess eggs and people don’t complain to me about the size. My chickens are healthy and active, often go broody and hatch and raise chicks for me. They chase bugs, scratch a lot, and pretty much behave like chickens. I have been exceptionally lucky in that they are parasite free. I have yet to get an egg bound hen or see internal laying or prolapse. I don’t see feather picking or any other behaviors you often see attributed to low protein diets on this forum. I don’t see any ill effects of feeding them the way I do.

    I don’t raise my chickens for show so I don’t need to feed them to reach show chicken size. I don’t get chickens from breeders that breed for the extra large chickens. If they have been bred for a larger size they may need the higher protein for health reasons. I find that is not the case for hatchery chickens. I don’t feed mine a high protein diet once they are passed that initial feathering out phase so they have not developed a body that needs higher protein feed. I don’t feed mine a lot of low protein treats, at least regularly, which would reduce the overall protein intake to a low level. Some chickens do need a higher protein feed. That could be heredity, the way they are used to being fed if most of what they eat is their chicken feed, or if you feed a lot of low protein stuff other than feed.

    In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with feeding a high protein diet to your chickens that will be a laying flock. That’s purely your choice. But I don’t see a “need” for everyone to feed a high protein feed to their flock when you don’t know their goals or situation. That’s my disagreement with your post, the word “need”.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Miss Maple, some of those are starting to get red, some are not. There are different signs that they might be close to laying, some more clear than others, but I don’t go by a lot of most signs. They lay when they lay, my best sign is what I find in the nest. But looking at one of the white ones and the second one and how red they are, it should not be much
     
  7. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    My feed store only offers Layer, medicated starter, and flock raiser. I only buy flock raiser. Giving a lower protein feed to breeds, like Easter Eggers, can dramatically impact how long it takes for them to start laying. I've never had an Easter Egger take longer than 24 weeks to start laying. Some people who have purchased my chicks have reported that their birds didn't start laying till they were over 32 weeks old. The primary difference was feed. They started their birds on 16% layer feed at 18 weeks.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I totally believe you. Feed is one way commercial operations control when their hybrid pullets will start to lay.

    Some of my homemade EE’s often start to lay by 20 weeks the way I feed them. By 24 weeks half of them are usually laying, though some can go a lot longer. If they are not laying by 27 weeks they go in the freezer so I’m probably breeding early lay into them. The first breeder designer chicks I got, Ameraucana for the blue egg gene, didn’t start to lay until 9 months, the first week in December and I did not use supplemental lights. Talk about frustration and then surprise when a couple of them started to lay then in those circumstances. But my homemade EE’s now have a lot of production breeds in them, Sussex, Rock, Australorp, with traces of Delaware and Orpington. They should lay early.

    The reason I wrote all that is that when someone says you need to do this, you have to do that, you don’t love your chicks unless you do something this way, you can make people feel guilty, make them feel like they are abusing their chickens or not treating them right. They are being a bad chickie momma. I’ve seen posts on here where that has happened. The reality is that they are not abusing their chickens, they are not harming them. They are not being cruel, even unintentionally. They are not doing anything different than a lot of other people are doing successfully. They have no reason to feel guilty.
     
  9. miss maple

    miss maple Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the help everyone! I'll do the pelvic bone check soon (it's still dark out) and see how it goes. I suppose the question now is, do I buy a new bag of grower, offer shell grit on the side for those that need it and try and get rid of the bag of layer I have? Or would it be alright to mix the grower with the bag of layer until it's finished? I would hate to waste a big bag of feed and don't know any chicken owners in the area. I had bought it over a month ago thinking my POL chickens would lay soon - silly me eh hahah

    Edited to add that the grey chook is an Araucana and my olive eggers are F1 Araucana/Marans if that helps
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2017
  10. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Your Araucana is male, so you aren't going to be getting any eggs from him, ever.
     

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