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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A few weeks back after some discussion with the kids I built a small, 39" wide by 6' long bottomless coop with a nesting box. My daughter and son (6 and 8) were ready for the responsibility of caring for a few hens. I had to care for birds as a kid and also help butcher.

I did not want to start with chicks that I did not know how to sex bought from TSC locally (spring "chick days") so I found a guy locally that trades fowl. Got two nice Rhode Island reds and two black hens which I forgot what breed he told me they were. I live in town and do not want roosters, too much noise and too aggressive.

The reds laid right away. My 11 yr old lab mix which was seemingly fine with them got one of the reds, the biggest nicest layer on a Sunday AM. I banished the dog to her pen and plucked the bird, put her in the freezer. She was loaded with yolks. The other red laid for a week or so and has quit. The black hens have never lain an egg.

They are eating a laying pellet mix and also free range the yard. Do I need to supplement oyster shell or some grit too?

I picked up to just out of the brooder birds from another lady, a small Production Red and what she calls a "light Brahma" that sure does not look like pics of light brahmas I have seen on line.

I'm thinking those black hens may be a bit long in the tooth, but not sure why the other red would just quit laying.
 

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If free ranging don't need grit..sometimes when a chicken has stress they quit laying but will start back..maybe because of the dog killing the other one or getting a new chicken has caused her to stop laying..
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well my son picked a nice light brown egg yesterday. I am thinking those black hens will never lay. We will see when the little two get older if they start to lay and how much. Four or five hens is all we really need to supply what this family will use, and all we have room for. Does make the yard look good though! Thanks for the information Caseman. Been so many years since I left the mini farm and the livestock for the lights of the big city I have forgotten some things.
 

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They look like Black Stars which is sex link chicken..they lay good I have 2 of them also..
 

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One way of checking the health or how far it is from laying, is by the look of the comb. The black one's comb is small and very pale in colour when it should be quite bright (in colour). That tells me it's some way from laying.
 

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I have always loved the sounds that chickens make. They add personality to a place, but we just have too many predators to contend with. The folks that have them must keep them penned up for their protection. Free-ranging doesn't work too well here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Update- the Black Stars are now much bigger than the Rhode Island Red, and all are laying. The Black Stars lay very dark, smallish to medium eggs, one laying darker than the other. They are very tough to crack! But the yolks don't break when you drop them in the pan. I started keeping track and we have gotten 13 eggs in seven days. I buy a 40# sack of lay mash from the feed store, 13 bucks or so and it lasts seven weeks, so that works out to a buck 85 a week for feed, and we get a baker's dozen eggs for that price. I bet if I went to the organic co op that those eggs would be near five bucks a dozen, and store bought "factory eggs" are about 2.50 a dozen.

The birds also get out four to five hrs a day, they eat grass and bugs, and whatever melon rinds etc I toss them. They love mushy grapes, and rotten tomatoes and peaches! Now if I could just get the Dachsund mix we acquired to quit eating chicken poop.......
 
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