First egg in winter??

Posted by: C5

First egg in winter?? - 10/09/12 04:15 PM

I have a mixed flock of duel birds (sussex & Australorp) coming 20 weeks on 12/1. I have a 25 watt bulb in the hen house (10X10) to provide longer "daylight". Just wondering if the natural shorter day light/weather will postpone the onset of egg laying? I have the nest boxes shut and am wondering when I should open them prior to the first expected egg so they can get used to them but I don't know when to expect the first egg. My neighbor said her red stars starting laying at 18 weeks. It seems I can't get a clear answer.
I was thinking of putting a golf ball in each of the 4 boxes to give the hens the idea that is where they should lay their eggs. Is a golf ball good idea? I could use some sage advice from people that have done this before.
Posted by: CJR

Re: First egg in winter?? - 10/09/12 05:12 PM

A mock egg is always nice to show the pullets where to lay--when Mother Nature starts the cycle. Most will want to lay in the same nest--wouldn't you like to climb into a warm bed??
My late hatch pullets are laying almost every day--small pearls (bantam eggs). Shorter days have more influence on hens than pullets that are programed to start laying at a certain age (breeds vary a little) If you use lights, be sure to add it in the MORNING hours (timer is easy) rather than late in the day, when they normally would be going to roost.
Always exciting to see the first eggs--Open your boxes any time--you may hear "singing" to alert you to "first egg SOON".

Posted by: C5

Re: First egg in winter?? - 10/10/12 04:12 PM

Any idea what age they start laying? Books say 6 months but I hear 4 1/2 months to 6 months depending on who I speak to. I saw a sussex rooster mock mount a sussex hen at 12 weeks of age. Thought that wouldn't start for a few months yet.

On a happy note. I am so glad the Classroom is back!! I love looking at all of the posts. I have really learned so much.
Posted by: Foehn

Re: First egg in winter?? - 10/12/12 03:23 AM

Heritage breeds tend to take longer to lay and you may not see them start now until after your shortest day since it is the lengthening daylight that stimulates the ovary. Your bulb in the hen house will work if you can get it operating with lengthening light.
I have had heritage hens start somewhere between 24 and 30 weeks, but those were early spring chicks and there was still reasonable daylight before they started. Hybrid hens will lay much earlier since that is what they are bred to do.
Posted by: C5

Re: First egg in winter?? - 10/15/12 01:44 PM

thank you for your advise. That makes sense to me. The neighbor does have hybrid birds and I didn't take that into consideration.