Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Big Red Laid an Egg! Plus, Fixing a Soft Shell Problem.

Big Red laid an egg!  On just her 2nd day (she came on a Sunday night, laid an egg on Tuesday morning) with us she laid an egg!  We were very excited because this is officially the first egg in our flock (even though it came form an already laying hen).  Big Red is 5 months old, and according to her previous owner, she has been laying for about a month now.  What was so surprising was that she started laying in her new home so quickly.  I read that if you move a laying hen to a new coop she may stop laying for several weeks and a month is not uncommon.  So for her to lay an egg the 2nd day she was here was quite a surprise.

The next day she laid another egg -but she did this while sitting on the low perch in the coop!  The shell was so soft that it broke on impact.  I read about this happening with new layers.  I figure if human women can 'accidentally' give birth in the toilet then I would not worry about this oops moment.  The 3rd day Big Red laid her egg in the nest box again, but the shell was so very thin that the egg must have burst almost immediately.  I was concerned that she was eating only the chick starter and not her layer mix feed, or that she wasn't getting enough oyster shells and crushed egg shells.  I currently had them in a small dish near her food but I wasn't sure she was getting them so I mixed them in with the laying feed and refilled the feeder.

Most importantly I needed to make sure she was actually eating her layer feed and not the chick starter.  So that evening I moved her feeder up to a higher elevation so the young chicks could not reach it.  They can't even see in the feeder holes but she can easily reach in to eat.

Elevated feeder containing layer mix.

Then I moved the chick starter feeder behind my feed cans where the chicks like to hang out during the day.  I made sure there was just enough room behind the cans for the chicks to get in but not Big Red, then I wired a board in place across the front, that again allowed the chicks access but not a full-size chicken.

Feeder with Chick Starter hidden out of reach of Big Red.

As you can see from this view, they have just enough room for 3 of them to stand at the feeder, which is about all that normally eats at one time anyway.

Top view of hidden chick starter filled feeder.
(I don't like this feeder because the angle of the opening allows the chicks to scoop their food out and onto the ground, so the next day I made another double sided feeder with the two 90 degree cups...they help to prevent food spillage.)

Big Red went to town on her elevated feeder filled with laying feed, oyster shells, and broken egg shells.  I think she feels special that the chicks cannot reach it.  So now at least I know she will be getting the proper feed plus the shells that she needs to make thicker egg shells.

The evening after she laid the egg from the perch is when I elevated and hid the feeders so that each chicken could only eat the food for their particular stage.  When she laid her 3rd egg in the nest box that was so thin it broke immediately, she had only been eating her layer only feed for about 1/2 day.

On the morning of the second day of eating layer only feed, I heard her making a racket in the coop and went out to discover she laid another egg (1 every day so far) and this one was much bigger than the one she laid the first day, and the shell was not thin at all.

See a comparison of the 4th and 1st eggs she laid.

Egg on the right is from 1st day, on the left is 4th day.
On day 5 she laid another beautiful brown egg, much browner in color and with a nice strong shell.  She obviously is now getting the right mix of laying feed, oyster shells, and crushed egg shells.  And she isn't stressing about her new home either.  I can't wait until all of my girls are laying...this is like getting a little chocolate on your pillow each morning!  Well, except its an egg instead of chocolate.

Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
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Did this post stir something inside of you? If so, Please leave me a comment, I would love to know what you're thinking!!!