I have 24 chickens that are new from this spring. I have been regularly each day about 6-10 eggs a day. I feed them some feed and range them on new grass weekly. They have plenty of water and all their other needs seem to be met. But it seems to me that i have quite a few that are not laying. How can i figure out which ones are laying and which arent? It seems like quite a few are just getting a free ride.
Do you mean they were new baby chicks this past spring? In that case they might not all be mature enough to start laying.....it takes about five months. In addition, laying diminishes with daylength, and mature birds will often molt in the fall, and quit laying for several weeks. So i would give them till early next spring to really get into gear.
Distinguishing a laying bird from a nonlayer takes some practice. If you, or perhaps some observant kids, are around the birds a lot, you or they (when I've lived around kids they would give each bird a name and would know exactly which one laid which egg and when!), you can see them go into the nests, and cackle, and then come out from off of a new egg. Perhaps you can mark these birds.
Hens that are regularly laying will have a slightly disheveled appearance compared to nonlayers....the comb will not be as bright or perky. On breeds with light colored legs, the legs will be whitish, rather than yellow (the yellow pigment all goes into the egg yolks). If you pick up the birds, you can easily fit two fingers, sometimes three, between the pelvic bones, which spread out to allow the passage of eggs. On chronic non-layers these bones close together so it's difficult or impossible to fit two fingers between them....
It is way too late in the year to tell which chickens are plain lazy, and which are just delaying it until spring just because of the lack of sunlight. Then again, do you have a laying breed or dual-purpose breed? Many will just lay an egg every few days. Or they may not be mature yet, as another poster mentioned. There are far too many factors in this to cull right now.
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