I have a light and heat in the shed. Light on a timer. I think if they aren't warm enough survival instinct kicks in and they use the energy for heat instead of laying. Still getting lots of eggs.
I've got 15 chickens at the moment. 1 Wyandote bantam hen, 1 Buff Brahma bantam hen, 2 Welsummer bantam hens, 2 Barred Rock hens, 8 Black Star hens, and 1 tiny little Sebright rooster. In my hen house, I have a light rope that goes around the rafters. I also have a flood light in the enclosed area. The lights are on a timer that comes on at 5:30 in the morning, and shuts off at about 7:30, then comes back on at 4, and then shuts off again at 9. We also let them free range most of the time. Inside the nesting boxes, I have seedling mats that are thermostatically controlled to come on when the temperature drops below 35. They have been on for about a month and a half now. We get about 11 eggs a day. The light on the timer seems to be what has the biggest effect on yield.
Ace; the source of your birds is the problem. Different hatcheries seem to all have different strains of each breed, some good some poor. Each hatchery will have a few varieties which are excellent, and a few that are lousy, all depends on where they get their hatching eggs. Good idea to just go with the best breed from your particular supplier. I would love to have guineas, but with the foxes, coyotes, and large owls around here, no one seems to be able to keep them for very long.
Acebird, I think they need at least 12 hrs of light for full on egg production. I also think if you run them all year they burn out faster (my chickens tend not to live much past 3 yrs). So giving them that winter break may prolong their life and probably how long they will lay (just my opinion).
My chickens have a pension plan and I keep them until the die (natural causes) even if they stop laying.
Yes, 4 to 4:30 is 12 1/2 hours of light per day.
Are you feeding your chickens organic feed at $27.00 per bag? That last about a week. Our remaining two RIR are 5 years old. Probably not laying though.
Most animals lifespan are affected by stress. I think our chickens have it pretty good but remember they are at the bottom of the food chain so stress is always a part of their life.
I agree I bought a nice heat bulb that I run in the coop from abou 6AM-6PM which keeps my girls going all year. I get about an egg a day plus or minus a few during molt/springtime. I also noticed the buckeyes (pea comb RIR) or the RIR are the best survival birds. I had a RIR rooster after I sent all my girls to the freezer (was sick of dealing with the mess) that I couldn't catch to save my life. He survived for 2 years by himself in our barn on cow grain and some dogfood. He didn't even come around us until I got him some new ladies. Now he has since gone to freezer but not after he left his legacy with our new Roo and a Austrolorp girl..for those that are wondering you get a dark brown bird that looks like it rolled in TAR from that cross..I think this is why my flock does so well. They are cross bred and blackish...like little turkey vultures.
Not sure if it's intended for me but, I don't feed them organic, they get layer ration though (about $15/bag) and I usually have oyster shells for them.
Yup you are right on! Layer is the way to go. Don't know where you are located doc25 but if you look for a local feed store (they really don't advertise like tractor supply) you can find bags of good complete layer and medicated layer for half that price. Ask around your area or look in the business pages (yes it still exists) even big cities like Dallas have feed stores and they are cheeep.
For you guys just wanting chickens it is a good place to find some local pullets (chicks with feathers) for you guys that want to get started. The guys in the feed stores are also typically your friendly type and you can get some great healthy local birds that do well in your area. Usually farmers give the leftovers or trade to these places for feed. You just have to find them.
About the oyster I found that if you have good layer you won't need calcium if you free range or even if you cage. It should be all included. Never noticed a difference my shells are always about double the grocery store thickness.
What I have found that works is I give them the medicated right before it starts to get cold. I found I have more survivors that way. Also i give my girls about a 1/8th cup of ground corn it keeps them warm at night. It isn't much for nutition butit brings them all back into the coop so I can shut the door. The corn will keep your eggs flowing longer into the winter I have found.
I don't medicate my bees so I am surely not going to medicate my birds and then eat their eggs.
Yep I can see both sides of to medicate or not. I use it sparringly as antibiotic overuse is the primary reason why most of our old antibiotics don't work anymore or have weak effects esp in the AG industry.
Acebird, unless it says 100% antibiotic free and freerange(sometimes non medicated), or if you have ever eaten a store egg or gone out and ordered eggs even if it says its not medicated/hormoned you have probably eaten a medicated egg. Most of us have eaten or are eating an egg from a bird that is heavily medicated or medicated in some way. I mean from the day it hatches till it dies in its 1ft cubed battery cell most industry birds get dosed heavily to keep the sickness out. Laws are against steroid/hormone use and really not so much against use of antibiotics in most states. Now a few have come around but your brands like Tyson and Pigrims just move operations to states that have less regulated rules.
Mine seem to get all the calcium they need from free-ranging. And the fact that I throw the shells back at them. Some people don't like that, say it leads to birds pecking their eggs, but that has never been the case with my 20 layers.
The wife dries a few shells and beats them to bits in the blender then it goes in their scraps bowl. Except for coming out of molt the eggs shells are plenty hard. The real difference in a free range chicken that is fed organic feed is the taste. People who have had our eggs claim it is the best they ever tasted. I wouldn't argue.
Yesterday we got 7 eggs, whoo hoo. Today we got 1. I think our chickens get the Mohawk Valley Blahs when the sun doesn't shine.
Weather is definitely a factor. No snow down here in SC, but not many bugs moving either. Lots of dandelions and other plants are getting nipped off though.
I don't even wash or crush the shells. I crack them in half when we cook and they go out with the rest of the vegetable/grain/meat scraps.
I was just about to say Hoo-Ray for Guinness Extra Stout. Then I noticed you said Guineas. :(
Acebird apologies as A bag of medicated last only a little over 2 weeks if at my place. I am getting about 12-20 eggs a day average during the off months and more during the summer. I try to keep my flock down to a technical term of "a bunch". I always kull before winter usually late Nov around here when eggs slow. My hen house is an 8X8X4 sructure with a 24X8 yard (16 yard but house has 2ft off the ground. So they dont get medicated very long. Just enough to keep them happy when the weather gets cold and bugs become scarce. During the summery months they eat next to nothing in the coop and i feed very little as they are busy scraching and hunting hoppers.
Beesmart - Yea we never really get snow around here either I throw a board of ply over the the top of the run to keep some of the rain outand could see where 2 ft of snow would stop eggs :) my hens dont like to go outside when it is cold until the corn shows up then its like a shark tank.
Ace- do your roos tend to split up their hens into packs I get about 4-5 5 packs a summer all herded by a roo or a dom hen?