Egg question/general health

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Tweetypie
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Egg question/general health

Post by Tweetypie » Sat Jul 21, 2018 9:31 am

Now I have 4 hens, I have noticed they have some sort of egg laying routine. Barbie (ex batt) usually lays hers first, around 8am. Cindy lays an egg every other day, usually a large one (72g). The newbies, Miss Muffet (the grey one) lays hers in Barbie and Cindy's coop, Mable lays hers in her own nestbox in her coop.

Last night, due to the heavy downpour for a few hours, the hens decided to go into the enclosed area a little earlier (9pm). Barbie, who ALWAYS sleeps on the floor in her own coop with Cindy on a perch above, decided she would go into Miss Muffet's and Mabel's coop. I looked in and saw she was sat in their nest box! I didn't want to disturb her or the other two, who were sat huddle together on their perch.
Cindy may have been alone all night... Would it be detrimental for Cindy to be alone in the coop all night?

This morning when I let them all out, Cindy stayed behind and laid a large egg. 82g. The shell of the egg is chalk-like and quite soft/thin. Sometimes, this does happen with Cindy. I think her eggs are larger as she lays every other day. The yolks are not big, but there is always a lot of white.

I know I am rambling here, but is it normal for these free range eggs to cook too quickly, eg when you fry them? Also, is there anything I can do so they have larger yolks?

I give them the free range Allen and Page layers crumble (people on here recommended to me) and put apple cider vinegar in their water. I also added some chicken spice to their feed last week and, of course, they free range all day.
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Marigold
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Re: Egg question/general health

Post by Marigold » Sat Jul 21, 2018 12:17 pm

As Barbie and Cindy are exbatts, you could expect some kinds of egg abnormalities, such as thin shells or softies and enlarged whites. Nothing you can do about the size of the yolks, I think that's just connected with the breeding, and possibly the age of the hen. I'd expect free ranging to improve egg quality, if anything. I expect the amount of water in the extra white in Cindy's egg may make a difference to cooking time and also taste. Have you noticed if the young hens' eggs are easier to fry satisfactorily?
Cindy has the choice of where to sleep, she can go with the others if she wants, and I cannot see it'll cause her any harm to sleep alone.
I did wonder about the conversation between Barbie and Cindy which led to the split - 'I'm getting a bit fed up of sharing with you. I'm going to see if there's somewhere they don't poo on me from above at night."
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Re: Egg question/general health

Post by Hen-Gen » Sat Jul 21, 2018 4:35 pm

I'd agree with everything that Marigold has said with reference to the vagaries of egg size or content.
However I'm a little concerned that Barbie always sleeps on the floor. How high are the perches? Have you tried a perch maybe 12 inches high to get her into the idea of perching? Does she have some weakness of legs, which you would notice when she walks, or some foot issues?
I understand that an ex-bat would be unfamiliar with the concept of perching but over time they should get the idea. That's not to say that there's any harm in sleeping on the floor, particularly when they are kept as clean as yours are, but I'd like to see normal behavioural patterns where possible. Having never owned an ex-bat this is not something I've ever encountered but years ago a neighbour had Buff Orpingtons that never perched until she lowered the perches from 4 feet high to 2 feet high then they took to them readily. A heavy breed like Orps struggle to get up to perches that are 4 feet high.
But worse than this are hens that insist on sleeping in the laying compartments. No one wants dirty eggs and this behaviour has to be modified.
The other thing to note is whether the perches are of sufficient thickness. I use CLS timber which is about 2.5 inches by 1.5 inches with chamfered edges to avoid sharp corners. Chickens hate round, broomstick-like perches.
There was one occasion when I went out to lock my chickens up and found them all huddled in a cluster on my lawn. To my shame an inspection of their shed revealed a red mite outbreak. A thorough disinfection programme sorted the problem and the following night they were all back on their perches.
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Re: Egg question/general health

Post by Margaid » Sat Jul 21, 2018 8:19 pm

I know it's generally thought that good quality layers pellets or crumb will contain enough calcium but do your hens have access to mixed grit? That contains the grit needed for digestion and oystershell to provide calcium.
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Re: Egg question/general health

Post by Tweetypie » Sat Jul 21, 2018 9:23 pm

I've just had a good read and many thanks for everyone who has commented. I have rushed out to look at the perches to measure up, as my husband made better perches for them, as the ones supplied with the coop kit were small.

1. There are two perches in Cindy and Barbie's coop. They are made from smooth wood, chamfered off and around 2/12 - 3 inches wide. One perch is around 14 inches from the floor (back of the coop) and the other is around 5 inches from the coop floor (near the front). Cindy likes to sleep on the lower perch, next to Barbie, who has likes to sleep on the floor, close to the door of the coop, in the corner. When I first got her, she occasionally sat on the perch. Observing her today, closely, she jumps on and off steps very easily, so not sure why she sleeps on the floor. Hen-gen, I completely agree about the round broomstick perches. My husband initially put one of those in the coop, which was never used. Once he replaced it with the smooth timbered one, all was OK :-)

2. They do have the oyster shell and grit, which I scatter on the lawn and they take in quite a lot of "bits" from the garden where they dig. It is only Cindy with the occasional thin shelled egg. Cindy lays the big eggs with a lot of white. I always think I am going to get a double-yolker, then sigh as a regular sized yolk appears, followed by a pool of white. All 4 birds have similar sized yolks and all of their eggs don't take long to cook in a frying pan. I asked a breeder today (he sells poultry feed)and he suggested fresh eggs cook quicker???

3. No red mite., thank goodness The coop is cleaned out every single day and has the diatom and mite powder in there. My husband is a retired surgeon - he is obsessive about cleanliness where animals/birds are concerned. LOL. The hens are very sprightly and perky. I would definitely notice if one of them's behaviour changed.

4. Just updating the post, as I just watched them all go to bed. Barbie and Cindy in their coop and Miss Muffet and Mabel in their coop. I am not sure if Barbie went in their house last night to snoop and decided their nestbox was warm and cosy (she had been out in the rain) and din't want to mess up her own nest.

Sooo Barbie, Cindy and Miss Muffet ALL lay their eggs in the same nestbox
Mabel lays her egg in the new coop and nest box

And they say there's nowt so queer as folk ;-)
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Re: Egg question/general health

Post by Tweetypie » Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:33 am

Would you believe it, after 1 soft shelled egg this week, plus an egg every day, Cindy laid a DOUBLE YOLKER ! She's the one who normally lays every other day and the occasional soft shelled egg. She never ceases to amaze me.
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Re: Egg question/general health

Post by rick » Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:57 pm

Mine all lay in the same nestbox and I currently have 4 perfectly good boxes! The two new ones are quite low to the ground in the place where the open bag of auboise used to stand - they took to getting in it and laying in there.
The cycle of egg laying is actually about 25 hours though they have some ability to delay an egg for a while (like when they are all queuing for one box.)
So the time they lay tends to get a bit later each day until they are laying in the evening and then miss an egg to reset to the morning again. That pattern is also modulated by generally not laying every day of the week (the legbars are about 4-5 a week, being young, Bonnie (orp) about 3 a week now.)
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Re: Egg question/general health

Post by Tweetypie » Sat Aug 18, 2018 12:39 pm

Just jumping back to this post, rather than start a new one.

Miss Muffet, the "Bluebell" and Mabel, the RIR x Maran always lay small eggs. I believe the hens are around 5 months old now. As they are much larger birds than my ex-batt's, I expected their eggs to be large, but they are very small in comparison.

I feed them free range layers crumb (can't recall the brand, but it was recommended on here) and also feed a layers pellet with 18% protein. They have access to both feeds.They didn't like the pellet as much as the crumb, so OH now blasts it in the food processor, to mill it, so as not to waste the whole sack :-) They also have access to oyster shell. I feed them one cherry tomato as a treat every day. Apart from that, they have access to the garden/grass/soil.

Will these hens eventually lay larger eggs, as I was led to believe that the larger the hen, the larger the egg they will lay.
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Re: Egg question/general health

Post by Marigold » Sat Aug 18, 2018 2:20 pm

At 5 months, they most likely haven't reached maximum egg size yet. The mixed lot of 5 pullets I got this Spring must be 7-8 months by now, and I've been keeping individual daily egg weight records on this batch since they started lay. To begin with, all were Small (43-53grams) then they began to move up to Medium (54-64g.) and now two of them are usually Large (65g.+) It doesn't seem to relate to size of bird exactly - some breeds are bred to be dual-purpose birds, large enough for eating and also producing what may be smaller eggs because a lot of their food goes into supporting a bigger body. One of my two leghorns, a small slim bird, is just getting up to Large and sometimes still Medium. The one who lays the biggest egg, always Large nowadays, is a Marans/Plymouth Rock hybrid, and hers are beautiful deep brown as well.
I would expect your Bluebelle and Marans cross to develop bigger eggs in time. The problem with giving them mash instead of pellets is that they may learn to pick out the bits they like and not eat the whole recipe, consequently they may not get the full nutritional value from the pellets. I'd be hard-hearted and just feed pellets, much less mess, they won't starve, call their bluff and make life easier for your husband, he has enough to do, I'm sure.
That's why it's good to collect hatching eggs from a mature bird who has got to the stage of laying eggs as large as she can manage, because the bigger the egg, the more nourishment in the yolk for developing strong and healthy chicks. The best hatching eggs come from hens at the start of their second year, when they're in their laying prime, producing maximum size eggs but still young enough to have good shell quality and no abnormalities.
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Re: Egg question/general health

Post by Tweetypie » Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:07 pm

I agree, Marigold, I told my husband that pellet is the best way, as there is less mess and less waste, too. They have a feeder in their downstairs run, which they have access to when they go in at night and early morning when they get up (bearing in mind they don't get let out until 7am). This feeder contains pellets.

The smallholder crumb is what they prefer and they have this hung outside on the decking. At night, an hour before they go in to their coop, I make a dryish porridge, a bit like the topping of an apple crumble, and they adore it with that added water. I also know that they are eating plenty ;-) then.

The pellet I bought doesn't have a particular brand name. I will continue to use it for inside the run. The ex batt's really don't like pellets, but I will not allow them to have crumb in the enclosure any more. It's been so much easier to clean the floor since I stopped the crumb a couple of weeks ago.

I think that's a great idea weighing their eggs and comparing them as they get older. I wish I had started to do that, but if I start now, it will still be helpful. It's funny, as I know who laid which egg by the shape and colour.

I'm off to hose down the pen floor, whilst the rain holds off. It will be nice and clean and dry by 8.30.

PS Not seen Barbie sneeze today :-)
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