Thursday, November 18, 2010

What the???

Would like a regular lot like this please!!!

So here I am asking the chooks the other day... "Who wants to go to the Pig n Calf, cause most of you are not laying...?" There was no response...

At the moment I get between 3 and 7 eggs a day from 20 layers. That includes the Guinea Fowl and ducks as well... Am not happy Jan... Not happy at all... Come summer holidays if they don't do better I will be sending some off as can't keep feeding something that doesn't give in return... Sorry girls. Best get your act together...

Cheers Damaris


Chris said...

Summer is traditionally moult season, so the hens will put their food reserves into regrowing feathers. The heat can sometimes put them off the lay too.

We always try to overlap laying hens, so we have first season layers come into lay, when the previous season goes into moult.

Have you tried throwing a handful of scratch-mix grains into the garden? Growing your own poultry food can sometimes be cheaper. We also let grass go to seed (in designated areas) so they can eat them too.

One of the methods we swear by is the crusts of bread soaked in milk. This seems to keep the birds healthy and many have been laying an incredibly long time now.

Damaris said...

Hey Chris,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write. :)

I will have to try the Milk and Bread. I usually use Dog Biscuits soaked overnight in Milk... That was a recipe passed onto me by a Vet and has worked wonders every time so far. Just need to do that every second day or so for a fortnight and they go back on the lay. And yes, their feathers do look glorious :)

In the beginning I did buy them to overlap as well but just recently one lot went and did the big moult and then the others followed suit... That was before winter. Three months of no eggs at all... Then they were laying up to about a dozen a day. Even now all their combs bar a couple of them are all bright red, yet nothing is happening...

I have looked everywhere as I suspect there are probably some nests around that they have hidden on me... Russell suggested I keep them locked up for a day and see what they do... Might just do that I reckon...

I also do the old grain going to seed. They do love that don't they :) I also give them most of the house scraps, after sharing with the worms :)

Will put out more of my shell grit again as well where I just bake their shells and then pulse it in the Thermomix four times. Nice size bits which are just great for the girls...

Cheers Damaris

Chris said...

It will be interesting to see what happens when you lock them in for 24 hours.

I wonder if you could have snakes or goannas? We know of a particular python who positions himself a few meters from one of our chicken coops. We don't move him on or the metal sheeting he lives under, because he does such a great job of controlling the mice.

However, we're constantly listening for the chooks to start calling, as we know he's coming in for the eggs then. At that point, we'll consider removing the roofing iron, but it's been two seasons without any dramas as such.

But I do know heaps of people around spring/summer, who suddenly discover a snake or goanna is the reason their chooks don't appear to be laying. This is when reptiles traditionally come out of their winter dormancy period, and go looking for food.

Anyway, I hope your chooky mystery solves itself soon. It's a pain having to spend so much on bag feed with no eggs to show for it.

PS: if you know any restaurants or the organisations you sometimes volunteer for, ask them to put the food scraps aside. My husband Dave works at a cafe/restaurant and he's trained the staff to put all the veg scraps in a bucket. Our girls get rockmelon/capsicum and tomato seeds, along with lettuce cores and carrot peelings.

Recycled large ice-cream tubs, make excellent buckets to collect these scraps in too. It's a real lifeline for us, especially when the chooks go off the lay. Which hasn't happened for over 12 months now.

I think the cooler weather conditions have had a hand in that too. ;)

Damaris said...

Oh Chris I think you hit the nail on the head... This morning we had our lovely neighbour come for some eggs... He told us that he had seen crows taking off with the eggs... Cheeky things. I don't see them around that much but they must be coming when I am not home. That has been too much lately. Have now regularly started to get the eggs and not waiting for the end of the day when we shut them in for the night. Am still going to shut them in for the 24 hours just the same just the once.

I love them to free range and seeing we have the acreage I say why not. :)

With the scraps you are so lucky. I used to casually work where there was a kitchen and also got the scraps but that work finished earlier this year in March. Had it going good for a year before that at least. :) The local pub is the only place that would collect it but someone else already gets that lot. Shame as I don't produce enough myself in my own kitchen to keep them in feed... There is enough green here at the moment at least and I give them about three or four scoops of grain every day straight from the grain drum. It also has laying pellets in it but more grain than anything... Am soaking dog food in milk at the moment as don't have excess bread like you do. Hope that helps them also. :)

With these couple of changes I hope that this fixes it. Still only got 7 yesterday. I guess I should be glad that I am getting any really as once one crow finds out about the eggs they all come...

PS Send your python over here for our shed. There are rats in there we have discovered... Out come the grease traps. :) That is how we got rid of 250 odd mice one year... Don't want that sort of numbers ever again... Chooks got fat and laid like crazy though. They were young mice and only drowned not poisoned so perfectly yummy food for them. And the Ducks went ape as well. :)

Cheers Damaris