One of the most exciting times for a first time chicken owner is that glorious moment once the hens lay their eggs! Often this moment is going to be a joyous surprise, even while for some owners, the more it takes the more nervous they become –“is something wrong with the chicken”,”are they sick”,”do they need to spend more time in the nesting boxes”,”am I feeding them the wrong food”? The majority of the time these queries only cause unnecessary nerves and frustration, even if what your flock needs most is support and patience. As you await your chickens to lay their egg you need to be composed, calm and caring, not anxious and overbearing. Here are some of the greatest things you can do to help your hens as they get ready to lay their first eggs.
When do hens normally start laying?
Generally speaking most hens will begin laying between 18 to 24 weeks. This having been said, some breeds who are not renowned for being productive layers can endure as long as the year to create their very first tasty egg. Finding out the age and breed of your pullets is a really practical way to keep track of your expectations during these first few months, since you will be able to track their progress and see whether anything is out of the ordinary.
How do you produce the right setting conditions to your flock?
There are a whole lot of variables that affect your flock’s likelihood of becoming energetic and productive little layers. Ensuring you meet all your chickens’ fundamental needs, concerning food, shelter and water, as well as creating a serene and tranquil environment, will ultimately result in your chickens feeling relaxed and healthy enough to lay.
Humans have been caring for chickens for thousands of years. As somebody who cares for chickens it is your obligation to make sure that your hens have a great safe place to lay which will keep them protected from the elements and whatever predators might be lurking on them.
The general guideline is that each nesting box can accommodate 3 to 4 chickens — not in precisely the exact same time of course! Nesting boxes also need to be warm, comfy and quiet, which will aid your hens feel safe and secure, while they attempt to stay focused and lay their initial few eggs.
One of the most important factors is daylight. Chickens need at least 10-14 hours of daylight to get their bodies to create any eggs. This is the reason why the majority of chickens stop laying during chilly and winter months. But if your pullets are not let out of the coop, then they will also cease laying, even if it’s sunny and warm outside. That’s why coop accessories like the Automatic Door are so important, particularly if you’re the type of chicken owner that finds it hard to get out of bed early in the morning.
Pullets need additional protein in their diet, as their bodies aren’t only getting ready to lay eggs, they’re also still doing heaps of growing! Diversifying their diet with some healthy treats is a smart way to make certain they are getting some variety.
It all basically boils down to making your flock feel secure, protected and loved. If your hens are worried about predators or unsure of where their next meal is going to come from, then they are not as likely to feel compelled to lay.
What are a few of the signs of a chicken getting ready to lay?
Though many (not all) chicken owners are unable to speak their flocks”buk-buk” speech, your hens will still offer you a lot of hints that their egg making instinct is about ready and they are gearing up to lay their first egg. Below are a few of the top signs that your hens are preparing to lay an egg for the first time…
Red Combs & Wattles
Look closely in the combs and wattles of your pullets around the time they’re 18 weeks old. Generally speaking your hens’ wattles and combs will turn red and swell as their bodies ready to lay eggs. It may seem somewhat odd but think all of these weird and unusual things that the human body does as it moves through puberty.
Checking From The Nesting Boxes
Some hens will start to inspect the nesting boxes all the time they’re getting ready to lay. They’ll wander around, rummage the hemp bedding and stick their beak in and out. Some might also practice sitting in the nesting box, which may cause any chicken lover an excellent deal of excitement! This being said, even if your girls are checking out the nesting boxes, then they may still be a couple of days or weeks off from laying.
Every time a chickens body is nicely ready to lay, you will see your hen doing a strange little squat at the backyard. This bizarre gesture is a subtle and flirtatious indication to a rooster they are fully matured and ready for some funny business. You might discover that your hens will nevertheless do this funky little squat if there are no roosters around. It is likewise a tell-tale sign that your pullet are going to put an egg at any moment! As soon as you see your pullets doing their squats you may be certain that you will find eggs in route!
These are the very typical signs that a chicken is preparing to lay however most poultry owners possess a profound connection with their flock and therefore are able of intuitively feel when their hens are ready to produce their first eggs.
If you are a seasoned chicken owner you may know by now that no two eggs are the same. They range in size, color and shape, and at times you might even encounter what we like to call an ‘egg oddity’, which will often leave you scratching your head.
However, these seemingly strange occurrences can be explained, so continue reading below to solve the puzzle of your extraordinary egg.
Body-checked eggs are those that are wrinkled or assessed in appearance. This is due to them previously being damaged while in the shell gland pouch, often from stress or pressure put on them. They are then repaired before lay, which is what gives them their somewhat rippled appearance.
While this sort of egg may appear alarming, a shell-less egg is a seemingly common occurrence, especially in young layers, because their systems are still warming up to the laying process and their shell gland is still maturing. However, if shell-less eggs are occurring in your older hens, it might be a symptom of calcium deficiency (and overall poor nutrition), stress, infectious bronchitis, or EDS (egg drop syndrome). If it becomes a repeat issue, make sure that your cows are comfortable and eating a well-balanced, calcium rich diet. A quick visit to the vet to test for any further health issues will not hurt either!
Also known as”slab-sided”, these eggs appear to have a somewhat flattened side with wrinkled edging, and are more common in young layers. It gets its misshapen appearance from being kept too long in the shell gland, or in certain cases when a mis-timed egg proceeds down the oviduct and ends up resting alongside it.
Rough Shelled or Pimpled Eggs
Eggs that have differing textures can be due to a range of things. Little bead like growths on an egg (can be in a cluster or larger mole shapes), are known as calcified substance and may be a result of excess calcium intake, disease, or defective shell glands. If these kinds of eggs are only found infrequently, there’s absolutely not any cause for concern, however reducing calcium consumption over winter can help keep pimpled eggs at bay.
Uneven shell colouring are simply the result of uneven pigmentation while at the shell gland pouch-no cause for alarm!
Egg Within an Egg
Theres nothing more alarming than cracking an egg into your frypan and seeing there’s another whole egg inside of it! But consider yourself lucky if this happens to you, as it is a remarkably rare occurrence! Known as counter-peristalsis contraction, this bizarre event results from the early launch of a new yolk while a present egg remains in the formation stage and not yet been laid. This then causes a contraction where two eggs meet up in the reproductive tract and provided a layer of albumin, membranes and a shell surrounding them both prior to being laid! While this might seem disturbing to some, it doesn’t in any way mean your chicken is unhealthy.
Blood spots can appear on the surface of an egg yolk and is the direct result of a blood vessel breaking in the gut as the yolk has been discharged, or in the oviduct as the yolk travels through it. They occur more so in older hens that have a genetic predisposition, are deficient in Vitamin A, or can also be a completely random occurrence!
Also known as”rooster eggs” or”wind eggs”, super small and yolkless eggs are often produced by young layers using an immature or non-synchronized reproductive system. Or in an older hen, as the result of a piece of tissue in the reproductive tract breaking off and being treated as an egg. They have the exact look of an egg, complete with a shell, but without a yolk-what a joke!
Double Yolk Eggs
Our favourite sort of eggs-double yolkers occur when two separate egg yolks are discharged into our hen’s oviduct too close together, and so end up becoming encased in one shell. This can be due to a hormonal change or imbalance which releases the yolk too early. Double-yolked eggs are more commonly produced by new layers, or those nearing the end of their laying life, and is often a hereditary characteristic. These eggs are usually much physically larger than eggs to accommodate two yolks, and doubly yum!
These are simply a few of the well known ‘egg oddities’, if you’ve encountered any extraordinary eggs we’d like to hear from the comments!
If you’re worried about continual or replicate problems with your eggs, it is ideal to go to your local vet to check about your chickens’ health.
Despite the most attentive chicken keeping, one of your birds will get sick sooner or later. It’s essential to have the ability to recognise the signs of illness and act fast — chickens are good at hiding their symptoms, so by the time you notice, they are generally very sick indeed.
If you believe that your chicken is ill…
A veterinarian always gets the best possible way of helping your birds and will have the ability to diagnose any issues with far greater details than any online source.
This article is a useful guide, but merely just guide — your vet is your best solution!
Diagnosing chickens is a huge challenge: they hide their symptoms, and could not let you know what’s wrong even if they wanted to. Furthermore, lots of the external symptoms aren’t specific to any one illness.
–Not drinking or eating
-Weakness or lethargy
-Pale comb or wattles
-Diarrhea or abnormal droppings
-Fluffed up feathers
-Other unnatural behaviour
If any combination of the above describes your chicken, she might be sick, and you need to take her into the vet ASAP to get specific diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms of respiratory disease
Respiratory illnesses manifest unique symptoms in contrast to most other ailments.
Again, it’s practically impossible to get a backyard keeper to recognize the specific illness in question. You have to take your chicken to the vet for diagnosis and treatment. This will often involve antibiotics that your vet may prescribe.
General treatment choices
If, for some reason, you can’t bring your chicken to the vet immediately, then there are a few simple things which you can do to improve her probability of recovery.
–Isolate her from the rest of the flock to avoid any possible spread of illness and decrease bullying from healthy chickens.
-Keep her in a well ventilated and dry location.
-Provide a lot of water and food. Give treats if she will not eat her normal food-eating anything is better than nothing.
-Give a teaspoon of yoghurt for a few additional probiotics. Do not overdo it as this may lead to diarrhoea.
At times, a little TLC might be a chicken wants, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. After you’ve gone to the vet, it could be worth checking your coop setup — windy dust and loopholes are a common cause of illness, and repairing these issues will help keep your flock healthy.
Some disorders have particular symptoms (in addition to those described above) which can help with home identification.
Coryza: [respiratory] Extremely swollen eyes, and a very rancid odour.
Coccidiosis: Occasionally leads to bloody faeces.
Avian flu: [respiratory] Dark, reddish spots on legs and comb, and sudden death. This disease can infect people, so be extremely cautious if you suspect it. Report any cases to the community government immediately.
Impacted harvest: Swollen crop (a pouch in the front of the body), which is very tough to the touch.
Sour harvest: Swollen harvest, which can be mushy to the touch, and a rotten odor from the mouth.
Botulism: Tremors of increasing intensity, end in death.
Bumblefoot: Infected wound .
Egg binding: The bulge of a stuck egg at the exit to the port.
Frostbite: Pale, slightly blue comb or thighs.
Pasty butt/vent gleet: Droppings caked over the buttocks.
Mites or lice: Pale comb (from blood loss), and compact insects among feathers.
Worms: Proof of worms in droppings.
If your chicken is acting strangely, but does not appear to be showing signs of illness, they might just be broody.