July 26, 2010

Poll for Chicken Farmers - Collecting Eggs

My flock currently consists of six Black Sex Link laying hens (Barred Rock/NH Red), two young roosters and four pullets that should start laying any time now.  The cockerels and pullets are Production Red, I believe.  The six laying hens were spitting them out at a pretty good rate of 4-5 eggs a day on average, with an occasional 3- or 6-egg day.  They’re a bit more sporadic now with the heat, but seem to be coming back around a bit.

I’ve noticed that on the days I have the larger number of eggs, they seem to come in batches. In other words, I can check for eggs and see none, and go back 45 minutes later and find three eggs in one nest. I’ve put a cardboard egg in both nests but they seem to prefer the one, each hen waiting her turn.

Since I’m generally home all day, I check for eggs frequently, especially in this heat.  If I do catch a single egg and snatch it up, it seems I get less eggs and longer intervals between eggs on those days.  I do keep track of how many eggs I get each day, but haven’t noted on paper how many I’m collecting at a time. I’m going to start doing that today.

Is this natural behavior for chickens, to get a clutch going? Do they wait for the first hen to lay an egg, then the rest can’t wait to add to the kitty, one after the other? I’m wondering if I left the single egg alone, would I get more eggs that day in a shorter time frame.

Big Bertha likes the new nest boxes.  Don't know why she's crouched in the corner.

What’s your experience?

How big is your flock?

How many eggs do you average per day?

How often do you collect eggs?

If you collect more frequently, do you get less eggs than if you left them in a clutch?

I may write an article about this, and I’d love to include input from other chicken farmers along with my own data once I start documenting closer.


All American x5 said...

Okay, We have approximately 50 chickens with only half of those being laying hens.

With the heat and snakes this year we average roughly 15 eggs a day sometimes up to 20. We have two roosters with our flock of laying hens. We have about 25 of those chickens being spring babies added this year, so they are not laying yet.

We tend to only check our boxes three times a day, rotating through them each time we feed. So basically we feed breakfast, lunch and dinner and check at breakfast, lunch and then when we put the chickens up for the night.

We have only a few laying boxes that the chickens like. They do pick favorites and tend to lay in the same box as the female who has the highest pecking order (from my own opinion).

I have several hens who go broody through the year and will wait for the hens to lay and then go sit on that clutch of eggs to hatch.

The older the hen the less eggs they put out. I had a great experience through our first year with egg production and then it tapered off, so I don't expect much from my older hens anymore.

Feed also plays an important role in their egg production. We chose to go a more natural feed route and less on things like egg pellets because that is full of steroids and such to increase production. Since doing so we have noticed a dramatic decrease in egg production. That is quite all right with us though because I would rather have a natural layer than an unhealthy bird pumped full of junk.

So, I think if you collected less and let them naturally lay in a big clutch, you may get everyone to lay daily.

I also use a few Plastic Easter eggs in each box as that encourages laying. It also helps when you have snakes roaming the coop. The snake eats the plastic egg and can't digest it. I don't know if you have that problem but we have this year with black snakes. It has been terrible!

Hope that helps. If not you can leave me a comment over on my blog and I will get back with you.

Have a great day!

Callie said...

Our 16 hens have favorite nest boxes and tend to lay where other hens have laid an egg. The egg production has been going up and down, but is now around an average 3 to 5 eggs a day. We collect eggs 2 or 3 times a day. I have seen two or three hens crowded in one nest. Sometimes I put fake eggs in the boxes, but that tends to encourage broody hens, so I don't do it very often. I don't know if collecting eggs more frequently affects egg production. It may affect how many eggs are laid in a specific next box. Our chickens are getting older and we feed organic feed so I expect the egg production to cut back.

CarolineNot said...

I won't be much help at all here. Our chickens are pastured and cooped at night, so getting a reliable head count is a trick. We have 22 to 26 hens, some of which are quite aged now and presumably not laying often. Two roosters, which is a borderline "correct" ratio. Coyotes (yes, broad daylight and with a Great Pyrenees on site) have been a problem this summer.

Until about a week ago, we were garnering about 13 eggs per day, but that's dropped dramatically. I'm grateful for your survey, because I'm reminded of snake problems in years past, and that -- rather than heat -- is the likely explanation for the sudden drop in numbers. We'll have to investigate.

We gather once per day, in the early evening, and have no problems with fouled eggs, although now I'm wondering if increasing frequency would be wise, since y'all are doing so. Is this a forehead smacking moment for me? :o/

I'm no expert, but according to what I've read, I've thought salting the nest with faux eggs was to encourage laying location rather than production. I think if they make an egg, they have to lay it...somewhere. Yes? No? Does the sight of an egg trigger production?