The Speckled Sussex is an old time favorite in its homeland of England. It has endured over the centuries to become a firm favorite with a dedicated following.
Although it, and other varieties of Sussex fowl, was in danger of dying out in the early 1900s, a few die hard poultry keepers kept the lines going, greatly improving on the stock in hand to give us the robust, healthy stock that we have today.
A Solution… For When the Broodies Take Over the Nests
Sometimes broody hens can take over the nest area and not let any other members of the flock enter the hen house or their nests. That means the other hen’s routine is upset and this can interrupt or even stop egg production.
It’s better to move the broodies to a confined area. But if you don’t have a separate area suitable for them, sometimes it’s just better to go with the flow and put extra nest boxes in the coop for the others. This is a much better idea than to let them find a place on their own, because what you’ll be doing in that case is going on an everyday egg hunt!
As you can see, members of the existing flock will rather quickly claim the new extra nest boxes and egg production will eventually resume. One way or the other, problem solved! To help them along, a ceramic egg or golf ball in the box often helps lure them in.
Simple? Probably not, it’s almost inevitable that two hens will claim the same box! So put out a few!
An Informative Article on Why, When, and How Molting Effects a Hen’s Egg Production.
Every year your chickens will molt, in other words, lose their feathers and grow new ones. Unfortunately, it also means most hens will not lay eggs until their molt cycle is done. However, there are exceptions to that rule. There are hens whose rate of lay is not affected, but you can expect their molt time to last longer.
Late molters will lay eggs 12 to 14 months before they molt, and early molters might begin to molt after only a few months after their point of lay. Late molting is preferred; those birds usually have a more ragged feather appearance, but will generally be your better laying hens. Early molters are just the opposite; they have a smooth and tidy appearance, but are usually poor layers.
Late molters will lay eggs longer before molting, and within 2 to 3 months will have completely shed their feathers. Their loss of feathers are replaced at the same time, this means a hen will return to full production quicker. Early molters lose their feathers just a few at a time and will drag out the molting process for as long as 4 to 6 months. These hens will generally be the poor producers in your flock.
There is a definite order in which feathers are lost, so it gives you a general idea of what molting stage they’re in. Chickens lose their head feathers first, then those on the neck, breast, body, wings, and the tail is last.
Here in Phoenix, the molt season begins in early September and I’ll be raking up feathers all the way through October. The particular time of year your birds will molt depends on the climate of your geographic region. Wherever you live, your chickens will not so subtly inform you when you can expect this yearly process to occur.
Note: A little crimped or rolled oats added to your chicken’s diet during molting may assist in feather growth.