Often when new hens/pullets are brought into an existing flock there can be problems with
over domination or
this is natural hen behaviour which may result in
retarded sexual maturity resulting in few or no eggs
In an effort to avoid these problems your new hens/pullets should be sectioned off in their new hen house for 3-5 days allowing them to become orientated prior to physical contact with your older/existing hens that have an established pecking order.
WHEN HENS BEGIN MOULTING
After about 10-12 months of laying you may notice some changes in your hens & their eggs -
*Shells may be thinner, white shell or feel chalky & break easily
*Hens look a bit shabby - feathersfall out from around the neck & tail area which may cause other hens to peck at them This is a natural process indicating that your hens need a spell from laying (a once yearly necessity). The moult takes about 8 weeks for each hen; they may not all moult together.
Tips for managing this important stage -
*Collect eggs early each day & often to avoid breakages & prevent egg-eating due to the thin shells
*To help hens thru this you can confine the hens to their shed or enclosure, take away the layers diet & feed only whole oats for 1 week to reduce stress & hen arguments (they will all stop laying together). Then return the high protein layers diet to enable hens to rejuvenate bones, skin & eye pigments and grow new feathers to make ready for another season of laying
*Hens may have a reduced lay rate, down to about 75% lay in their 2nd season & expect them to have all the eggs possible by the end of the 3rd season
Some people buy new hens at this time to maintain egg numbers - read notes above to ensure a hassle-free introduction.