Friday, January 15, 2010

How to get eggs

Winter, as I have said before, is a time of relaxation and hunkering down. There are few projects to work on other than cleaning the inside of the house and organizing the summertime build up.

This winter though, we have been spending some extra time perfecting our chicken and egg production.

Over the past few years we have ramped up the number of birds, increased our covered coop area and in general taken a more serious attitude towards raising chickens.

We currently have about 70 chickens and we will likely taper back to about 50 in the next year or so.

As the number of our flock has increased we have come to understand the subtleties of poultry in larger production.

We find that when your flock is less than say 15 birds you can get away with a lot less in terms of attention and materials. Once you increase your numbers you really have to significantly increase coop space, roost area, nest space and most importantly feeding space.

We had 4 round feeders available for the 50 or so adult layers and 2 for the chicks. The chicks have been doing just fine with this arrangement, but the layers were not.

Our egg production was low, like really low, and we finely figured out why. The chickens were producing about 2-3 eggs a day. We have lighting on them to counter the low light of winter. We used layer pellets and plenty of water. Snacks, oyster shell, ect. And so why were we getting so few eggs?

Well the funny thing about our chickens is, they apparently don't like pellets and they don't like to take turns.

We assumed the chickens would eat and then go outside leaving the feeders for the next batch of chickens to eat from. But that wasn't happening. The chickens would eat what they could get to, go out into the run and stay out there hungry and looking for food. For some reason it didn't occur to them to go back into the run to eat.

So handy husband David built a tube feeder out of 4" pvc pipe. It runs the length of the coop and allows for 30 or so birds to eat at one time.

The next day we got 9 eggs.

One month later we're now getting over 2 dozen. Pretty cool!

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