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#77595 - 12/27/04 12:45 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Anonymous
Unregistered


It's not the hatcheries fault, entirely. The 4 sq ft thing seems to be a widely accepted rule of thumb among poultry growers... I got my numbers out of Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, which otherwise has been a fabulous 'bird growers bible.' And in every case, it's always a 'mimimum' recommendation... kinda misleading. And as Bill suggests, has more to do with poop and litter management than the social antics of our feathered freinds.

As for herding chickens, it is a lot like herding cats.

Do you give them scratch grains or any other kind of treat?

My birds get table scraps mopst daysand a little grain at bed time each night. As such, they see me as the 'provider' and usually come running when I am outside. If I need them in back their coop for some reason, I can throw a handful of grain in there, and they'll all head back in...

Occassionally, I have to catch just one, in which case I use the wire hook method... You probably know it, but a coat hanger straightened and then bent at one end, into a short V-shaped hook. You have to get the bend tight, so it may take some crimping with a pair of pliers. Anyway, secure that to a broom handle or something similar and you can sneak up behind the bird and 'hook' their leg, around the ankle. If the bend is right, it snags then really well. If the bend is too loose, they can get away.

However, I have never had a bird that wouldn't return to the coop at dark... you must have a few brave ones in your flock.

If you cannot slaughter your egg-eaters, at least separate them. Problems like egg-eating and feather picking are terribly contageous among the flock.

Oh yeah, the golf ball or wooden egg thing is probably the most logical and proven solution, other than space management, for preventing egg-eaters... But as you'll read, there are dozens of other tales and recipes for fixing the problem... my personal favorite, though I have never tried it, is the one where you blow out the contents of an egg and fill it with hot sauce... I kinda doubt this one... my birds eat jalapenos and other hot stuff without batting an eye. I once made a batch of chili way too hot for my wife and kids to eat so I gave bunch of it to the birds and they scarfed it up, happily.

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#77596 - 12/27/04 01:12 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Bill Ludwig Offline
Classroom Professor

Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 2582
Loc: Ohio
J, you are correct that "hot" does not affect chickens or any of the other stuff people have put in eggs.

Louisa, if culling your birds just isn't in you, you might try selling them. Put up a sign at the feed store. Something all hatcheries should tell people though is that sooner or later you will find yourself in a situation where you will need to put down one of your flock. I don't mean to be harsh but it may be best to get over that hump now. You may find your self with an injured or sick bird that is suffering and need to be able to it. Sorry, I am not trying to take the fun and joy out of having chickens but reality will sneak up and kick you when you least expect it. J's suggestion of bringing them in with a little grain is good. I assume they are eating a layer ration for their main feed.

Bill

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#77597 - 12/27/04 05:07 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hi Weezie,
Big welcomes from me too!!
I can't remember who posted it (I guess I should do a search shocked laugh ) LOL, but it was about putting heads of cabbage in the coops to give the chickens something to peck at instead of each other. If I was gonna do that I would hang them on a wire beside the wall so it would move some but be easy enough to peck. Also, i, and others, feed alfalfa hay to the hens for winter greens. They love the little leaves.
Too bad you are so far away. I know folks who would buy your extras in a heartbeat!!
Sally

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#77598 - 12/27/04 05:46 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Weezie Offline
Bantam

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 56
Loc: North Carolina
I love this board!
You are all so friendly and helpful!!
The girls went into the coop with much less coaxing tonight. I didn't have to bring out the big fishnet.
I have found out that there is a small animal sale a few towns away, so I will check that out to thin out the flock. Also need to add more roost space. And big news flash here:
I got 6 eggs today!!
Feeding table scraps has really been interesting...never would have thunk it--how the mashed potatoes, gravy, and ham scraps are delectible tidbits!!
(I have been wanting chickens forever, and my DH finally gave me this coop and dibs for my birthday. So this is really fun...or it has potential....!)
Louisa

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#77599 - 12/28/04 08:20 AM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Anonymous
Unregistered


How old are your birds? And, are you giving them any additional lighting? 6 eggs is probably normal if they're on natural light right now... at least based upon my first winter on natural light. I had 14 birds producing only 3 or 4 eggs a day, at best.

I now give my flock 5 hours of supplimental lighting during the evening (winter only) and production is around 16 eggs a day.

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#77600 - 12/28/04 04:56 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Weezie Offline
Bantam

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 56
Loc: North Carolina
My 21 birds are almost 5 months.
I keep the red heat light on all the time. Is that not good? It doesn't usually get that cold here in NC, but the last few nights we've had 20's at night. (I know some of you are laughing--but it's cold for us!! )
Louisa

And I can't find info on what layer feed is....??

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#77601 - 12/28/04 07:17 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Chook Hilton Offline
Chicken

Registered: 09/19/04
Posts: 109
Loc: Australia
No need to battle to round up the birds every evening - I've found they will come into the coop themselves if you keep them a little on the hungry side (ie remove any constant food source during the day, so they free-range only) & when you want to put them to bed, feed them treats scattered inside the coop & shut the door behind them.
_________________________
Chook Hilton

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#77602 - 12/29/04 08:36 AM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Anonymous
Unregistered


Lots of opinions on heat and lighting for birds. Do whatever feels right for you and our birds, but here's a few things I have picked up from the Coop and other literature I have read.

Standard breed, normal feathered birds (ie, not frizzles and not silkies), but birds with normal feathers, can withstand really cold temps without supplimental heat. All birds, chickens, sparrows, etc. produce enormous amounts of body heat from their rapid metabolism (it's a reguirement of flight - even though chickens don't fly so well). As such, as long as they can escape damp conditions and windy conditions, their feathers and normal body heat will keep them warm in very cold temperatures.

Egg production is dependent upon length of daylight (or artificial light). 15 hours of light, per day, is generally used by many year-round egg producers, by adding articial light at either end of the day (morning, evening or both).

Intensity of light is important if adding extra artificial light. low wattage can be ineffective, high wattage can cause problems. red lights are supposed to help prevent feather picking and other cannabalism problems, too.

I use an energy saver bulb that produces the light of a 60 watt bulb. This is in a 60 sq ft coop. I think a stronger light would be better, but am willing to see fewer eggs in return for a smaller energy bill... personal preference.

At five months, most of your birds are probably not yet laying. Most standard breeds come into production at around 22-26 weeks, and that's been my observation with 8 different breeds of standard sized bird (non-hybrids).

I do have a few production reds (a commercial hybrid) and they started laying at 17 weeks.

Having oyster shell is important for calcium intake, which they need for egg shell production. Some folks mix it into their feed, some leave it 'free choice' in a separate container. I do the free choice thing, but will occassionally mix it in their feed if I get a few thin shelled eggs

Another option for calcium, which gets some occassional exposure here on the Coop is Diatomacious Earth. It's quite the little miracle additive if you can find it in your area. A search on this site, and on the internet is worth your time.

Don't forget grit. If your soils don't have some good, hard, small pebbles in it, it's a good idea to give them some grit so their crops can grind up the grains and grasses they eat.

In Summary: If your coop is free of drafts, but ventilated well enough to prevent their respiration from making it humid, your local temperatures would not suggest the need for a heat lamp... Where I live, 20 degree is a heat wave. Single and negative digits are common and I use not heat lamp on my birds... as far as I can tell - they aren't complaining about the cold.

However, since your birds are acclimated to 24 hours of light per day, DO NOT simply unplug and remove the light. Birds will not do well under sudden, drastic changes like that. If you want to remove the light, do so gradually, maybe 15-30 minutes per week, at most, until you get them back on natural light... which would be around March, I suppose. At that time, you could let mother nature take over and they'll get ample light for good procution until about September. At that time, you can let production drop off a little, or start adding light to maintain a 15 hour day through the winter. Again, if you add light in the Fall, add it gradually, so that you slowly fool your birds into thinking they're in a perpetual summer.

A search on articial lighting, here on the coop, will provide you with several ideas and opinions on this management option...

Again, it's entirely up to you, but the cost of a heat lamp running 24/7 is considerable and may not be doing anything for your birds. Probably more for your peice of mind, really. Just make sure you don't go making big changes right away - it can have very negative results.

Sorry to all for the long post. I hope it helps, Weezie.

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#77603 - 12/29/04 05:36 PM Re: Egg-Eating pullets
Weezie Offline
Bantam

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 56
Loc: North Carolina
J,
Long post was great! Again, thanks for the great information. Searching this site is very helpful, but sometimes you don't know exactly what you are supposed to be searching for. You've given me lots of search ideas!

The girls are loving their new free-range status and they are getting better about going into the coop. There are 2 or 3 that are slow learners, tho. And I have a funny chicken story about that....

I have been petting and cooing over them, so they "love" me, of course. But little did I know that when they hunker down and push their wing blades up that they are "assuming the position" for the rooster. My veterinarian husband burst my bubble with that information, when I told him how they were so docile and submissive when I was stroking them....

Anyway, tonight when I went to lock them up, there were the 2 that are coop-door-challenged. I tried to scoot them towards the door, but when I was not closer than 4 feet away, they just both dropped down into the "position"!! And didn't move--so I just picked 'em up and carried 'em into the coop!

I'm sure I didn't describe it as funny as it was, but you pros can use your imagination.....

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