Chickens are a handful....
In February I bought four Golden Comets....well, they started laying eggs just like they were supposed to. Though I have only been getting three a day. That wasn't to much of a big deal. Until I started free ranging them, at first they went back into the coop to lay, but then suddenly it all just stopped. My first thought was it was to hot, but then my dad found where one of them was laing and there was about six eggs. Today he found a second one, or maybe where they all have been laying. I don't have a total count, as there was a hen on the "nest" but there are so many eggs that they are overfollowing...
She was taking care of these eggs as if they were to hatch... It is so weird. When they first started laying, that is all they did, laid and went out to play.
I'm waiting an hour or so to go back out and see if see if she is off them to see exactly how many there are. Can't help but wonder if I some how got a rooster, which would be weird since golden comets are sex linked. o.o
Although good egg layers are less likely to go broody they will!
Remove the eggs, they are infertile and some will be addled. You can test the good and bad by putting them in a bowl of water - the good ones will sink. Addle float.
Sex linked means that the roosters hatch a different colour to the pullets and are despatched as soon as they hatch. If you call a breeder then they will have some roosters or you could just get any sort of rooster.
If you do have a rooster then be aware that you could well have hundreds of hens and roosters running around!
Ok lesson one, were you taking all the eggs out of the nests in the coop ? That is a big mistake. Think about it. If every time you left your baby in a crib, then you came back the baby was gone, would you keep leaving a new baby there ? If you take all the eggs the chickens wont lay there anymore. They know its a bad location and a predator is getting them. They will go find soemwhere else. destroy those eggs and nest, lock your chickens back in the coop for a few days. Always leave an egg in the nest. Or you can buy some fake eggs. Only need one or two per nest. let em out in the Am, but feed them in the pm right inside the coop door and lock em in at night. They will get back to laying inside.
I have 25 hens, no roosters and they are a mix of rhode island reds, golden comets, and barred rocks. They completely free range during the day and it's amazing where we tend to find eggs. The majority do use the nest boxes, but I've found eggs in my wheel barrow, in my muck bucket, behind the garage door and most definitely between my square hay bales that are stacked near the barn. It's hilarious and my kids get a kick out of scavenger hunting for eggs. We just pick em up and go on about our day. It's a different turn out every day. Nothing unusual really although Joe4d does have a point and good idea by having you leave an egg or two in the nest boxes. :)
Welcome to the world of chickens!
Every now and then the eggs in the nest boxes goes way down and we start hunting for the latest egg-hiding spot. I put golf balls in the nest and it helps.
You guys can free range, if you want to, but why do you do this? I was on backyardchickens.com for about 2 years to really learn about chickens. (>100,000 members, btw.) When you free range, your chickens will lay where ever they feel like laying. You'll find missing eggs bc they will be rotten--THAT's not fun! I don't want to find THAT in my barn bc I barely have enough time to clean the cobwebs in my loft, much LESS find and clean up rotten eggs amongst my hay bales!
My friend who thought that free-ranging would cut down on feed costs and make his hens happy, came home to find the flock ripped up by raccoons. NOT a good death, Precious. I have a serious coyote problem, too.
You need about 3 nests in the coop for a flock of ~10 hens. They will probably prefer one of them and hardly use the other 2, but you should be building a coop that allow you easy access to the eggs. Unless a hen goes broody, they drop the eggs and forget about them, and don't mind you taking them. It will irritate your hens if you move them to get eggs while they are in the middle of laying, and they'll relocate where they lay if you do this routinely. I don't.
RIR's are probably the easiest breed to find that lay a lot of eggs. Generally they will lay 5-6 eggs/week in the summer, less in the winter. I replace my layers every year. I incubated eggs with 3 roosters this year, and we eat/freeze all of the young roosters. I have ~ 40 young birds right now, and will have more baby chicks next week. I intend to sell of some of my young layers to pay for feed this winter bc I'm gonna have a lot. My 1st batch of chicks had more pullets than roosters.
Hope this helps.
My chickens primary roll is spreading horse manure, and eating ticks and other bugs. I feed textured feed, enough seads pass through that the manure gets spread everywhere. I have ZERO piles in my pastures to pick up or spread. If I get eggs thats a bonus. I do have predator issues on occasion but usually can call em in and shoot them at night.
I do not have Raccoons. Coyotes, yes... but I lock my chickens up before the Coyotes are out and about.
The entire reason I got chickens was because I wanted to feed my kids healthy, nutritional eggs. Zero point to raising chickens myself if I just duplicate the caged hen eggs that I can buy at the grocery store.
Again, what Joe said. LOL. I live on a 45 acre farm. The only manure I have to deal with is in my stall where I'm keeping an injured mare and they will even scratch around in there with her. We have 0 grasshoppers, 0 June bugs, 0 centipedes and 0 snakes. And our chickens are so tame, I can call all 25 of them in within 10 seconds. They socialize with our dogs, our cat, our horses and our kids. Ironically, the only time I've ever lost a chicken to a predator is IN THE COOP when a possum got in there before I had a chance to shut the door for the night and I've had chickens for about 5 years now. Like I said, our kids get a kick out of looking for eggs almost daily. I've never had a bad one. :)
I've lost 4 hens in a year.
Hen 1 was coyote dinner, kids completely forgot to go lock the coop one night.
Hen 2 snuck into the feed shed, kid's didn't notice and closed it up (and was was 101 outside that day).
Hen 3 wandered onto their neighbor's property and into a rabbit trap (horrified neighbors no longer have any traps, their child was sobbing, my chickens are as much their pets and source of eggs as they are mine).
Hen 4 had a latch on the coop malfunction, the door slammed down and acted as a guillotine. Oddly enough, that coop belongs to my non-free range chickens (the babies) and the hens they are completely penned up.
I've had bad eggs. 100+ weather and I was too sick to hunt down eggs or even care that they were hiding them. Once I recovered I found the nest, floated the eggs and composted the bad ones.
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