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Author Topic: chickens poor laying - could it be the quality of the food?  (Read 2057 times)

farmers wife

  • Joined Jul 2009
  • SE Wales
chickens poor laying - could it be the quality of the food?
« on: February 04, 2016, 06:06:07 pm »
OK Ive taken all the advice on improving laying and there is no change.  I spoke to Cyril Bason this morning who told me not to feed scraps as the food should contain everything they need. OK


I was feeding them on HiPeak organic pellets - excellent results.  I changed to bulk bag of B&W organic mash direct from mill.  Whether its coincidence but Ive just realised that the laying slowed down about this time.


My brain is telling me that could there be a mistake in the mill and the feed not being complete - could this happen? Is there any chance there is a terrible mistake in the mix?  I am thinking of sending them a sample but before this are there any opinions.


I have a number of chickens that are weak legged however they look healthy.  I have bought a bulk bag of shell today to boost their calcium. My chickens come from Cyril Bason and confirms they are vaccinated.


I am concerned as losing trade and customers.
Voss Electric Fence

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: chickens poor laying - could it be the quality of the food?
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2016, 06:42:22 pm »
Did the change of food coincide with the shortest daylight hours before Christmas?  My 18 month old birds slowed almost to a stop then but are picking up now, whereas last Summer's hatch are just beginning to lay.  Did you intorduce the new feed gradually?

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: chickens poor laying - could it be the quality of the food?
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2016, 07:34:27 pm »
Are they eating the same amount? It must be harder to eat mash than pellets, no? (I'm guessing as I've never used anything other than pellets).


farmers wife

  • Joined Jul 2009
  • SE Wales
Re: chickens poor laying - could it be the quality of the food?
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2016, 09:00:52 pm »
They most certainly eat that my concern they are eating so well yet not laying.  Think it was the beginning of December I changed their food over. No I didnt do it gradually as didnt see the point its not affected them other than the laying and over the last few weeks seeing 6 chicken with poor strength in their legs.  Its all very odd as they are in prime condition, been wormed etc.


Another concern is the thin quality of some of the shells which means that the laying boxes are slimy and covering all the other eggs and becoming a horrible mess.


Driving me mad.  I have a vet coming on Monday for TB test cattle etc will drop this one in - I wonder if there is any blood test?

farmers wife

  • Joined Jul 2009
  • SE Wales
Re: chickens poor laying - could it be the quality of the food?
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2016, 09:17:34 pm »
I'm wondering if the nutrition with mash is as good as the pellets.  If this is the case the it would be better value to go back to the pellets (cost more) yet my laying would be more productive.

lord flynn

  • Joined Mar 2012
Re: chickens poor laying - could it be the quality of the food?
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2016, 09:24:33 pm »
I've not fed the mash but my understanding is that it goes off quickly-could they be eating some say a day after its being put out? and in milder weather you might get more growing in it e.g. molds/bacteria.


I have to say, there is a difference between feeds-I was feeding  a well known brand of cheap pellets until I found a fair deal of blue bailer twine in it! Although I am only feeding 20 or so feed Smallholders.


My older bend also not really in lay yet-except for the Minorcas who are excellent for pure breeds. Pullets all are though. How old are these and are they under lights?It's still early in the year tbh.

farmers wife

  • Joined Jul 2009
  • SE Wales
Re: chickens poor laying - could it be the quality of the food?
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2016, 09:47:24 pm »
seems to me that everyone is telling me that 16hrs is necessary yet many say their chickens have short amount of light and still lay well.  I am not a commercial outfit and want my hens to last without being pushed. However I would accept 25% drop not this amount with a number of the eggs being soft shelled.


I think I'm going to have to set up a red light to come on 4am and then that goes off at 7am when we let them out.  Main flood light to come on 5pm and gradually go off to be shut off at 8pm.


Ive bought a big bag of oyster shell today again and making sure they stuff this down them.





mentalmilly

  • Joined Nov 2012
Re: chickens poor laying - could it be the quality of the food?
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2016, 10:26:43 am »
I buy wynnstay pellets and mash for my birds , and oyster shell for strong shells on the eggs, they have mash with any left over vegs from dinner and l boil up potatoes and peelings to go in the mash which they love. don't have soft shells and had eggs all winter from the birds that did not moult for long. All birds healthy no problems. A drop in eggs obviously because of the season but kept us in eggs ok.  I reared some sussex last summer and the had more mixed grain than l would usually give them and they started laying in the winter. comparing them to sussex bought at 15 weeks that were reared in a barn they are only just laying  while my own laid at 22 weeks and still going strong. They do like their mash and have enough to clear up by 1pm.

darkbrowneggs

  • Joined Aug 2010
    • The World is My Lobster
Re: chickens poor laying - could it be the quality of the food?
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2016, 05:48:28 pm »
You don't say how old they are? 


Any change, in flock mates, housing, feeding, lighting or watering will affect laying.  They are not laying machines, they are sensate beings.  They will lay when they feel happy, secure and that all is well with their world.  Changes to any animate being are worrying and will affect them. 


Do you have an vermin problems?  Have you examined them for lice round their vents.  Are red mite in the houses (though it should be the wrong time of year for that)  Do foxes call round and get close to them when roosting? or prowl close by in the day?  do you have rats?  Not only will they eat the eggs they disturb the hens at night.


Have you lost any birds unexpectedly?  Have they gone off their legs or displayed drooping wings?  Are any sneezing or showing signs of discharge round their nostrils.   


There is so much to learn as a poultry keeper, but it is a rewarding hobby/business.  It just takes time and dedication


You say you have extra lighting.  I take it the food and water is available to them all the time the lighting is on.  It is not the hours of daylight which affect egg production, it is the amount of food they can consume within the hours they are awake.  Obviously mash takes far more time and energy to actually eat than pellets. 
To follow my travel journal see http://www.theworldismylobster.org.uk

For lots of info about Marans and how to breed and look after them see www.darkbrowneggs.info

Stereo

  • Joined Aug 2012
Re: chickens poor laying - could it be the quality of the food?
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2016, 09:58:20 am »
Are they older than 18 months? When we started out we bought 20 ex organic hybrid layers at 18 months and they were completely hopeless. The few eggs they did lay had very poor shells and they wouldn't stop eating them. I spent so much time on rollaways (which broke the eggs anyway) and various cures for their shells. It was horrendous and we had to conclude in the end that they were just finished as productive animals. They are not bred to last more than 12 months of laying. I also bought 12 'light sussex' hybrids off one of the big suppliers and they were awful too. Mortality was appalling and although they layed well for a year, by year 2 I had 5 left and was getting all huge eggs with poor shells. The rest had just dropped dead or developed problems / become eggbound or whatever.

Compare to my own hybrids we hatched 3 years ago from a pure Rhode Red over various pure hens. We haven't lost a single one and they still lay lovely eggs. They are tough as old boots.  I just think these complex production machine hens are designed to do a job and then self destruct.

farmers wife

  • Joined Jul 2009
  • SE Wales
Re: chickens poor laying - could it be the quality of the food?
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2016, 11:03:16 pm »
Hello


Ive put it down to 1. the mash they are on once I read the label it only contained wheat & soya (compared to HiPeak which contained numerous plus minerals) 2. Lack of calcium - now scoffing oyster shell and shells have improved 3. not enough early light (in process of sorting auto light).


Fingers crossed should have pellets delivered on Friday so will report back next week on success.


Thanks

 

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