Saturday, December 3, 2011

Chickens Milestone: 20 weeks

Today the chicks turned 20 weeks old!  It's an important milestone, as they are no longer adolescents, and are now 'pullets', or young adult birds.  This is also when they are due to start laying eggs -  I could have my first eggs any day now.  Last week I started switching their feed over from 'grower' to 'layer' ration.  This is supposed to happen at 20 weeks, as the layer feed has more calcium (and other nutrients) that laying hens need. However, I ran out of grower ration 2 weeks ago, and didnt want to buy another 25 pound of it when I needed a pound or two to last me from weeks 18 through 20. So I started to mix in the 'layer' feed to transition them over slowly (a few people in the farm co-op told me it was OK to do so).

Back to the eggs.  I could have some anytime now. The first few eggs are usually 'odd' (in terms of size/shape). They are usually small and odd shaped.  This happens while the chicken's system is getting used to laying eggs. After the first few, they are more or less 'normal' eggs.  I'll be sure to post pics of my first few eggs.

I am slightly concerned that my girls will not know where to lay their eggs.  I may be worrying over nothing. Their egg boxes are in the top of their coop, a place where they seldom venture. So I'm worried they won't know to lay them in there, despite me putting some 'fake' eggs in their nestboxes.  This helps them to know where to lay.  They seek out someplace tucked away and quiet.  I keep showing them the nestboxes, so they know where they are.  Also, they free range in the yard all day, so Im worried that the urge will strike to lay, and they will do so someplace in the yard, and I'll never know they laid. There are several places in the yard that have lots of little smooth eggs shaped rocks, so Im worried they will mistake this for a nest and lay there.  Who knows, I may be worrying over nothing. 

Then there is the daylight issue.  With less than 12 hours/day, most hens stop/slow down laying in the winter.  Some people provide artificial light to trick their girls into laying through the winter.  I am currently doing nothing.  So with the diminished daylight, my girls may be slower to start laying. So much to worry about!

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