Frustration with Chickens

Discussion in 'Other Pets' started by PznIvyFarm, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. PznIvyFarm

    PznIvyFarm New Member

    939
    Jul 25, 2010
    It's my own fault, i didn't plan for replacements soon enough, my old girls are slacking WAY off (3 yo) and I cannot satisfy all my egg customers. I got chicks a couple weeks ago, but i still have 5-6 months of putting up with my slackers - they lay roughly every other day but are eating every day - and half the eggs are too big, too deformed, too brittle to even sell. I'm tempted to do a major culling and just say the egg store is closed until spring, but i don't want to lose my regular customers either. I was trying to figure out who was laying based on the 4-H info sheet that i had from when i was a kid, but it is difficult, b/c i think they are all laying - just not every day. I keep writing down the band id of anyone i see on the nest boxes, but there are some that i never see (of course i don't have the time to camp out there all day either)

    Don't know if anyone has any suggestions for me.................just wanted to vent a bit
     
  2. GoldenSeal

    GoldenSeal New Member

    298
    Sep 13, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    There's not really anything you can do. Their peak is the first year so your only solution is to buy new layers. Buy some oyster shells and that should fix the brittle eggs, they are lacking calcium.

    That sucks when they slow down. :( It takes soooo long for new ones to start laying.
     

  3. Mon Reve Farm

    Mon Reve Farm New Member

    612
    Jun 25, 2010
    Southern DE
    I agree there isn't much you can do... our ducks haven't been laying for almost four weeks.

    Give them some oyster shell or old milk/cream to help with the shells. Sounds like they need more calcium.
     
  4. StaceyRosado

    StaceyRosado Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2007
    NJ
    feed them back their own shells that helps with the calcium brittle shell issues. We feed our chickens their own eggs but we crush them up a bit before so they dont get into breaking eggs ;)

    as to figuring out who lays. Do you have a large dog crate? We use to put one hen a day in a dog crate and if she laid an egg she got a band and put back in, if she didnt she got a different band and then put back. After a little bit we knew who laid and who didnt and my mom took the non layers to the auction.
     
  5. VickiH

    VickiH New Member

    138
    Sep 24, 2010
    Ohio
    I'm in the same position, but don't have regular customers to worry about. Getting 2 or 3 eggs a day out of 15 hens means it's time to bring in fresh ladies to replace the older ones. Half of mine are 2.5 years and the others are 18 months. I hope the younger ones start up again soon to get us through winter. I'm debating making an order for chicks now instead of spring. :sigh:
    We were trying ducks out, but they have gotten so darn noisy I think we have to rehome them :(
     
  6. StaceyRosado

    StaceyRosado Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2007
    NJ
    Do you have a light out on them? the shorter days will make them stop laying but if you have a light on it will make them think the days are longer and they will continue to lay.

    Also during multing (sp?) season they stop laying and then may or may not start back up again till spring.
     
  7. bheila

    bheila New Member

    644
    Jan 9, 2009
    Kent, Wa
    There's a lady who gives me all of her 2 year old layers for soup or dog food. We only keep our layers until they're 2 years old too. We can't have any freeloaders ;)
     
  8. tracyqh

    tracyqh New Member

    394
    Aug 9, 2010
    Ohio
    I didn't get my chicks until July 6th. They are nice and big now, but no eggs. Granted, I might be alittle early, but I was trying to figure out an easy way to do the lights without using a timer. Can I leave the light on all night then shut it down in the am?
     
  9. tracyqh

    tracyqh New Member

    394
    Aug 9, 2010
    Ohio
    Also, how much do you guys sell the eggs for?
     
  10. cdtrum

    cdtrum New Member

    Aug 25, 2008
    Northern Indiana
    I have a light in each coop that stays on 24/7 once the days get shorter and nights get colder.....I start out with like a 40/60 watt bulb and then as winter comes on (we get really cold here) I change the bulbs out to heat bulbs.......my girls lay all winter, maybe not as good.
     
  11. VickiH

    VickiH New Member

    138
    Sep 24, 2010
    Ohio
    I've never used lights with mine, but I wouldn't leave it on all night - they need a dark period I think. I have a light in the coop that only gets turned on when I need to see.
    We sell our eggs for 2.00 a dozen - a little on the cheap side around here. I would up it to 3.00 if we start up again.
     
  12. redneck_acres

    redneck_acres New Member

    Oct 17, 2007
    Idaho
    We just bought some more chickens recently. We are still getting between 4 and 5 eggs a day, but the new ones are young ones and haven't began laying yet. We got a good deal and ended up bringing some home free...not sure what their eggs will look like though. I can't remember what they are called-but they have a funny hair doo. We sell ours for 2 dollars a dozen to-mostly to neighbors though.
     
  13. cdtrum

    cdtrum New Member

    Aug 25, 2008
    Northern Indiana
    Maybe Silkies?
     
  14. PznIvyFarm

    PznIvyFarm New Member

    939
    Jul 25, 2010
    I will try to answer everything.

    1. They get oyster shell free choice. What happens as they get older is the eggs get brittler, but the extra calcium is deposited on the surface of the eggs (making them ugly for sale)

    2. I do the light thing every winter. It's not helping much. (which seems to be the general consensus on poultry boards last time i checked) I have a low watt night light on all the time, and as winter progresses, i add more lights on timers.

    3. Now is a great time to get chicks. I have even gotten them as laste as November. Since the chickens slow time is winter, and they aren't laying anyway, you don't lose a thing, then as the days are getting longer, they start laying. I like the Red Stars b/c they start around 5 months.

    4. I've done the pen thing before to see who is laying. The problem is that i have about 50+ layers so with one or two pens, it takes forever. It is a good way, but what i'd really like to do is build trap nests (maybe next time)

    5. I sell eggs for $2.50 a dozen. It is not covering their feed, even at peak laying, but I don't want to lose customers by upping my price too much. Most people sell for $2 - $3 around here, the health store charges $3 for a HALF dozen.

    6. The funny hairdo could be several things, but i was thinking Polish. Silkies are fuzzy, they never get the hard feathers, and they are small.

    7. I didn't mind the noise from the ducks - i hated the mess - they were always playing in the water and creating mud everywhere.

    I am not seriously frustrated with them, it is more with myself that i didn't plan better.
     
  15. MissMM

    MissMM New Member

    645
    Oct 22, 2007
    McGregor, MN
    I'm in the same pickle too. We decided to put in another round of meat birds this past spring 'cause we make a lot more $ on them & put off the new flock of layers until this fall. I have 80 hens between 18mo-3 years old. Getting about 4 dozen a day but not all of them are good enough to sell - down to about 3 doz. a day by the time they are washed & graded. I need 24 doz. plus a week to fill standard orders - that doesn't include 'walk ins.' We had 100 day-olds arrive last week but it will be 5 mo. before they start producing. Hope I don't lose any regulars due to my 'musical birdie scheduling.'
     
  16. PznIvyFarm

    PznIvyFarm New Member

    939
    Jul 25, 2010
    Miss M,
    I don't feel so bad then, it sounds like I wasn't the only one.

    I give all the less than perfect eggs to my parents, or we eat them ourselves, but it is frustrating to get 20 eggs, and at least a third can't be sold.

    Here's a picture my friend took, she wanted pictures of my 'punk' chickens, and one of the babies decided to check the strange animal out.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. OhCee

    OhCee Yak Lady

    609
    Feb 26, 2010
    Western MT
    Cute silkie and kid :) I am sorry to hear of your egg woes. Have you checked the paper/craigslist? I know around here there are many "For free X layers" ads because people just now realized "Crap! It snows here and we don't want to buy/build a coop!" So they give them away... You'd have to quarantine, but could be worth it?

    How long have you sold eggs to have so many regular customers, if you don't mind my asking?

    I have chicks now (first time!)- they are 1 1/2 to 2 months old now. Banties (asst- grasshopper control for next Spring!) and some Austrolorp, Aracauna, and Black Copper Marans. We also have about 20 Meaties. Oh. My. Gosh do they eat and eat and EAT! We won't be doing the cornish crosses again, too much starter feed. However, I may do the slower growing meaties that actually forage.

    I love my chicks, they're very entertaining. I just built the layer coop, and started painting. Lots of work for such little creatures, but I think it will be worth it!
     
  18. MissMM

    MissMM New Member

    645
    Oct 22, 2007
    McGregor, MN
    This will be our 4th year doing laying hens and 3rd doing meat birds. I don't know how others feel about it, but for biosecurity reasons I won't buy poultry listed on C/L or in the paper. We have a very healthy flock (knocking on wood) & it would only take 1 wayward critter to foo-bar all of our hard work. Those efforts have also helped us maintain a set of loyal egg & meat customers - I hope they continue to hang in there. We'll have eggs coming out our ears again in 5 months.

    Regarding the Cornish X meat birds, I agree they aren't the hardiest of critters, but ours did very well this year. We started them out on a 21% protein commercial feed for the first 4 weeks, then switched to a local feed mill's grower mash for the last 4 weeks to keep the feed costs reasonable. We started butchering the heavies @ 8 weeks & by the end of week 9, were done with all. They averaged over 6 lbs dressed. Very high maintenance bird but worth the effort.
     
  19. tracyqh

    tracyqh New Member

    394
    Aug 9, 2010
    Ohio
    What types of meat chickens do you raise. All I see are the Cornish X's. I have Delawares but they arent' laying yet, but would like different chickens for the freezer.
     
  20. PznIvyFarm

    PznIvyFarm New Member

    939
    Jul 25, 2010

    Wow, you do sound just like me :) We have been selling eggs for about 5 years, i have maybe 8 regulars, and 5-6 stop every week (some come every 2 weeks). I have 5 more that i sell to when i go to a monthly club meeting. And when my girls are laying well, i put a sign up by the road, and have more 'drop ins'

    I also won't buy off craiglist. I don't even let people that own chickens walk in my pen, they can look from outside. I take my biosecurity seriously after seeing what some people have had happen.