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Sunflower Seeds to Increase Egg Production

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I don't remember why I started using sunflower seeds as a supplement for my hens; it was probably something that I read either here on in a poultry magazine. When I did, I noticed a significant difference in the number of eggs they laid. So I have a friend in Oregon with 30+ hens who had so many eggs last year that she was giving them away, but this year her hens were laying almost nothing. Sometimes none, sometimes three, and that was it. I suggested that she try supplementing their diet with sunflower seeds. She couldn't see why it would make a difference but she gave them some, and voilą, they started laying again. She got 20 yesterday!

Now, the question: why did that get them back into production (assuming this keeps up) and why did they stop in the first place? She has the usual mix of older and younger hens, some of which should just have been coming into their egg-laying years.

AuGres, MI(Zone 5b)

THanks for the tip. I'll be sure to try that right away. I have 12 two year old hens who are not laying very well. We have 12 six week old babies. Two of the older hens are broody and sit on nests and won't let the other girls on to lay eggs. We've started kicking them out of the barn and locking them out so they can't get to the nests to hoard over them. I wish they'd just start laying eggs again. I'm about ready to dump them in the pond to cool their jets. Will pick up sunflower seeds today. Will let you know if it helps.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I hope it makes a difference for you, but I'd love to hear a theory about why it might work! Let me know...

Ferndale, WA

I have no idea, but think it is very interesting. Something else i'm curious about...I have seven layers I have kept just for our own eggs. Five of the seven are over two years, and two are four years old. I kept waiting for them to basically quit laying so I could replace them. The oldest hen is a cuckoo maran @ just over four years old. She still lays five or six eggs a week and same with the other four year old which is a white rock. I get five - six eggs regularly. I give two - three doz eggs away to the Senior Center every week. That has not been my normal experience. I don't get it, but I like it...Hay

Thumbnail by Haystack
Conroe, TX

Hay don't knock a good thing, if they lay then you are lucky :)

We have a five year old Blue Cochin that is one eyed. She is sort of a loner, she goes in the pen with the "big" birds, but she keeps her distance. Next thing we know she is out roaming in the yard, she gets nervous if we let others out to raom too. She prefers to be by herself. She lays very well for a bird her age. But hers seem to be seasonal. Spring and early summer she lays an egg almost every day. And guess where she lays them.......in the house with the big girls.

Lodi, CA(Zone 9b)

I thought I dehydrated mine, cause they went a day with no water.. in the heat.. Which would make them stop, but now I think someone is collecting for me. I have a RIR that hardly ever skipped a day since I've had her.. and 5 other 2+ year old layers. I get 1 RIR egg maybe once a week if I'm lucky.. Funny thing is, I still get the Serama eggs and the bantam eggs.. so it wasn't cause of the water issue.

I wish the feeding them onion and garlic would really work to taint the eggs, but it doesn't.. I thought if it would work, I'd load them up with garlic and fish to make the eggs taste bad and see if whoever is taking the eggs stopped!! LOL

Ferndale, WA

Oh Lord help me, if that isn't just like ZZ's. You'd really do it! Wouldn't you. What a stinker...Hay

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Your cuckoo maran is not like mine; mine have about given up laying. Only rarely do I see one of their dark eggs, and they're about four years old.

ZZ, can you just check in the henhouse more often and see if you can figure out what's going on? We had some very softshelled eggs that led the hens to eat them, so we started checking much more frequently to nip that habit in the bud.

Lodi, CA(Zone 9b)

I have a pretty good idea who is doing it. They were vandalizing my coops and stuff in the garden area...

I did get an idea. I'm going to put up a sign that says the eggs are poison from wormer and see how quick I get eggs! LOL

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Aha, so you think the perps are humans? That's even worse!

I'm not sure if the sign would work since it would so obviously be aimed at them. You wouldn't need to remind yourself not to eat them!

Mint Hill, NC(Zone 7b)

ZZ- You could really give the wormer so the eggs will make the perps sick...but knowing those idiots they would sue you.

Another idea is to get one of those wildlife cameras and then you might could figure out who is doing it and then report them to the police. If the damage/vandalism continues take them to small claims court. But of course going to court may not be worth it considering the time and effort. Good luck!

I wonder if the extra fat/oil in the sunflower seeds help in some way to increase egg production? They also have a lot of Vitamin E...maybe that helps with egg production along with calcium...Interesting subject to investigate a little more about.

Richmond, TX

The note idea might work. Write it as if to your son or mother, reminding them that you wormed the chickens and include the date. Couldn't hurt...

Lodi, CA(Zone 9b)

I gathered a bunch of garden scraps for them.. Told mom I had to make sure the neighbors get healthy eggs! LOL

I am going to write a note.. Kinda like for myself.. and just see..

Lodi, CA(Zone 9b)

Now I know they are stealing my eggs.. Someone left the coop door open! I'm raging mad. Feed is too expensive.. I'm ready to quit.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

What can you do about it, ZZs? That's downright theft. Can you lock the coop?

Richmond, TX

How infuriating! I wish I could think of some useful advice...

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Some rotten eggs might do the trick, I hear....

AuGres, MI(Zone 5b)

Put a lock on the coop door

Lodi, CA(Zone 9b)

Yeah, I had some rotten eggs.. I washed them up to put a couple in there so they will gather them. LOL

I have external nest boxes, so I'll need 5 locks... I will start on that, but it's gonna be a project..

Sorry to hijack your thread Green.. I kinda transferred this to my Save hatch thread. :)

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

ZZ, no problem; the thread was about reasons why we might not be getting eggs, anyway, but who would have thunk that it was 'cuz people were stealing them? I will go check your new thread.

Lodi, CA(Zone 9b)

For what it's worth.. I'd try the sunflower seeds as soon as I can lock up my coops.. :)

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Once you lock up your coops you may not need sunflower seeds.

How often can you check your girls? It does seem odd that you haven't crossed paths with the thieves yet!

Lodi, CA(Zone 9b)

They are 11 houses away now.. I try to go twice a day.. I think the people who are taking them are very aware of my routine, and they live closer than I do.. Um.. I don't like to point fingers, but I'm pretty sure of who it is.

I spent 2 months warning the kids in the area to stay out of there, and still they were leaving gates open and the chickens were so scared they wouldn't come out for the longest time.. Just not worth all the drama anymore!

I'm trying to spend more time down there, but it's miserable hot, no shade for me... so it's not enjoyable.

If the rotten egg thing doesn't work.. I might just give up.. it's too expensive and too hard to haul water with my back as bad as it is right now.. I think I've given it a good fight.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I still think locks could help. It sounds like a bad setup though, if it's that far away from you. We can hear what goes on in our poultry yard, and many's the time we've chased hawks away before they did any damage. Of course we're not always home, either, and you can't drive yourself nuts.

Do you think that the people who are taking them need them, or is it out of spite because you told their kids to keep away?

Elkhart, IA(Zone 5a)

LOL! ZZ, I love the idea of using rotten eggs to deter your egg thieves! :)

question about the sunflower seeds...are you using black oil sunflower seeds in the shell that they sell for bird seed?

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Yes, that's what I'm using. I don't give them much, but they love it. I scatter it inside the chicken coop and they scratch up the litter to find it, which also helps to aerate it.

Ferndale, WA

It just makes me sick, that you have to lock up your nesting boxes. I'm afraid that the thieves just might break the nesting boxes when they see the locks. Locks are just another expense that may or may not work...I'd love to spend a couple days watching your coops ZZ's Just a little bb shot on the arm would sting enough to get thier attention. I hate thieves, if someone is hungry talk to me, but don't steal from me...Hay...I hope their is some way to work this out ZZ's...Hay

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

ZZ, how are your eggs doing?

Grownut had some ideas about the sunflower seeds. She said, "I had something similar happen with my goats...in that they have always been fine and suddenly -trouble! Gut reaction has been that they go through their surplus stores and slowly 'achieve' a depleted state. The fatty acids and trace minerals are the very hardest things to keep them well supplied in..." She suggested that it was the "linoleic acid. The oils giving a boost not available from more dried and highly processed foods. What I'm finding is basically that the nutritional content of eggs and sunflowers is somewhat similar. Seems entirely likely that they just flat have what supplements chickens need." Another person commented, "I feed black sunflower seeds to our show chickens, and I guarantee you can tell a huge difference in the ones that get it and the ones that don't!! I have no stress problems at the shows and the girls lay their eggs every day while we are there, and the feathers are full and gorgeous!!! I love them!!!!"

Elkhart, IA(Zone 5a)

hm, I'm going to the store to get some sunflower seeds. Can't be any more expensive than chicken feed. I've located a farm store that sells rolled oats in a 50 pound bag and my hens will scratch through the feed to get the oats and leave the processed stuff laying on the ground. Between the sunflower seeds, rolled oats, grass and foraging for bugs their diet should be complete.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

We don't feed them much; maybe 3/4 cup for about twenty-five chickens. But they really enjoy it!

Elkhart, IA(Zone 5a)

And now I've learned the fine art of maggot feeding. Life is good!

Richmond, TX

Another topic of conversation for that boring dinner party!

Elkhart, IA(Zone 5a)

LOL! That will liven up your party! I'm not sure anyone will be hungry after this discussion. :)

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

My chickens love tomato hornworms, and cutworms. It's immensely satisfying to see them gobble those up.

Elkhart, IA(Zone 5a)

The japanese beetles are having a grand luncheon on my new fruit tree leaves. I sure wish the chickens would pay more attention to eating them. :( Any cure for those darned things?

Mint Hill, NC(Zone 7b)

See this for Japanese Beetle info: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/pubs/pub_phjbeetle04.pdf

AuGres, MI(Zone 5b)

How long does this sunflower seed remedy take to work? We've been feeding them for about 5 days now and have not noticed an increased production. Still only getting about 2 eggs out of 12 chickens. Make that 11. We had one die the other day. We have 12 babies that are 7 weeks old.

Elkhart, IA(Zone 5a)

Loon, is there anyway that an animal can get into your coop and eat your eggs? Snakes perhaps? Seems strange that you have 12 hens and only 2 eggs a day. Especially this time of the year. What happened to the one that died? How old are your laying hens?

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Loon, my friend in Oregon who tried the sunflower seeds saw a change in two or three days, which surprised me. I too would be wondering if something is getting your eggs. How old are your laying hens?

AuGres, MI(Zone 5b)

My laying hens are 2 years old. No, there is no way anything can get into the coop. It is inside a barn with a cement floor and their run has that steel wire buried all around. Not a crack anywhere. No evidence of anything getting in there. So far only one egg today.

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