Which Hens?

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I have about 16 hens and get 14 eggs almost every day. I'd like to weed out the 2 who never lay but don't know which ones they are. I started by catching them off the nest and putting a ring on their legs. When I stay around down there and bother them, I get 8 eggs instead of 14. Does anyone have a special method of finding out which hens are not laying? Thanks. Eagle

-- eagle (eagle@alpha1.net), March 01, 2000


eagle, you'll probably have to get a poultry book through the library. There are ways of feeling the pelvic bone and judging the color of the legs (assuming they were the right color to begin with). If the hens are more than a year or so old, they might all be laying, just not every day. As hens age, they lay bigger but fewer eggs, usually every other day.

I can try to type in the description of feeling the bones, but think it would make more sense to get it from an illustrated book. And no promises you'll get it right. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (ima@gerbil@hotmail.com), March 01, 2000.

I agree. If you've got seven eighths of your hens laying each day, you're doing well. The ones that won't lay are the ones you kill off. I'm assuming that your flock is fairly uniform and fairly young - otherwise you couldn't be getting a laying percentage that high.

-- Don Armstrong (darmst@yahoo.com.au), March 01, 2000.

Give your chickens a break , I dont expect mine to lay one each day ! More than likely they are all laying ,everyone needs a day off dont they ? I think your hens are laying great . I expect about 5 eggs per hen a week .When you stay in the hen house you upset them and when upset they wont lay .You didn't mention how old ,your weather or anything else that might effect them.Good luck and enjoy your eggs.

-- Patty Gamble (fodfarms@slic.com), March 01, 2000.

I agree with the others- you're hens are doing great. But I can usually tell a non-laying hen by the condition of her comb. A layer will have a bright red healthy-looking comb and a non-layer will have a duller, drier looking comb- usually. The difference can be suble. Peg

-- Peg (jnjohnsn@pressenter.com), March 01, 2000.

Make that "subtle". Sorry about that.

-- Peg (jnjohnsn@pressenter.com), March 01, 2000.

Eagle, there are other signs to cull by. Here are a few: The brightest yellow shanks and beaks and circles around the eyes are typically the lamest at laying eggs. After a winter off, however, they should all be nice and bright. The yellow bleaches out in this order: shanks go pale, then eyes, then beaks.

Also, the vent on an old hen is all puckered up and flat looking. The layers have a wide and fatty rump.

For what it's worth, I also think your hens are laying well. But everyone has their own needs for culling, and maybe you just want some chicken stew!

-- Rachel (rldk@hotmail.com), March 01, 2000.

Thanks guys for the replys. As for culling, I guess I couldn't. I got these hens from McMurray about 8 months ago as day old chicks. They are the red sex links (red stars). I had them in a small pen in my back yard in Houston until they were 2 or 3 months old and now live out in the country. I had 25 but a weasel or something killed 14 of them one night. I build a roost where nothing could get in at night and haven't lost any more They are more pets to me than egg producers and I probably could never kill one.-- I notice one that is very dull. Most of them jump up on my lap and on my shoulder when I take them bread and stuff. I can toss a snack right in front of her and the other hens will beat her to it and she'll just look confused. She's kind of dull & pale looking too. I couldn't really cull her though. I just kind of wanted to know which ones were not laying so I could put them in a separate pen and watch them or maybe let them run free a few days Thanks again for your replys Peg, suble or subtle. I knew what you were saying and appreciate your note. Eagle.

-- eagle (eagle@alpha1.net), March 01, 2000.

Eagle, I bet you don't have 2 who never lay. Most hens lay for about a week and take a day off. I'd guess it's different hens every day who aren't laying. We tried the bands on legs method too and never got too far.

-- kim (fleece@eritter.net), March 01, 2000.

You just have two hens who are on strike from having to live in Houston! I am a native Californian (ElCajon, near San Diego) my husband transplanted us to Pasadena, subburb of Houston, it is fondly? called Stink-a-dena. We are now north of you, up 59 in Cleveland in the fresh air and woods. Maybe your girls would lay better if you brought them for a visit.....I jest of course! Vicki McGaugh

-- Vicki McGaugh (vickilonesomedoe@hotmail.com), March 02, 2000.

Vicki, agree with you about Houston=lived there 15 years. However, I'm about an hour and a half from Houston, out in the country=real nice. Drive out 290 past Brenham and 15=20 miles out there. It's really nice. Bluebonnets are blooming now=have a lot right in my yard. Thanks for the replay. Eagle.

-- eagle (eagle@alpha1.net), March 07, 2000.

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