PRESS BULLETIN 218
OINVERSITY OF FLORDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
By A. P. Spencer
It is the early spring hatches that give the layers for the coming fall and
winter, and not the early winter and late spring hatches. Many pullets that
would begin to lay about November are sold or used for broilers or fryers
during June and July. If these pullets were kept, and those from the earlier
or later hatches were sold, as also the hens over two years old, there
would be more eggs produced during the winter.
The chickens hatched in January and:February should be used for meat,
as they are not likely to be layers next fall. They get their growth early
in the season; molt during July and August; and rarely lay until January
or February, when the price of eggs is declining.
The March and April hatches are most likely to give pullets that will
begin laying in November and keep it up until March. These pullets will
begin laying before they are old enough to molt. They are not likely to
molt after once starting laying, when the weather is cool. They will not
usually molt at any time during the first year, and will continue laying
Pullets that are hatched in May or later will not grow so well during
the summer, especially during the season of rains, and will molt in the
late fall. They will not usually begin laying until spring, when the price
of eggs is lowest.
If the pullets hatched in March and April are forced by heavy feeding
and kept in small yards, they too will molt during August and September.
In this case there is little probability of their laying before the middle
of January. But these spring pullets, if kept thrifty and given plenty of
outdoor exercise with a fair amount of feed, are not likely to molt in the
The feed should be a mixture of equal parts of corn, bran, and oats
June 14~, 1913
given in the morning, with the addition of table scraps and milk. The
fowls are then turned out for the day where they can find shade, fresh
water, and grit, as well as green feed and insects.
Green feed for these pullets is most important. The grass around the
yards will not usually be sufficient, especially during dry seasons. One can
plant a short row of sorghum once every week during the summer, and so
provide tender green feed that the pullets are fond of. Let them get in and
help themselves. Twenty-five cents' worth of sorghum seed will be suffi-
cient for regular plantings all summer for quite a large flock. About Sep-
tember 15, plant a small patch of dwarf Essex rape. Let the fowls feed
on this when it is two or three inches high. It will furnish green feed
through the fall and winter.
The Second Summer
After.Aipril 1 the price of eggs usually declines, and stays low during
most of the summer. The pullets should not be encouraged to lay then.
Reduce the feed, but still feed them regularly, and turn them out of the
yards to pick green feed and bugs. These hens, now one year old, will
molt the second season about July 15, and will be ready to start laying
again in November. If well handled, they should lay throughout the
Old Hens Not Productive
After having laid eggs for two seasons the hens should be marketed for
meat. There is always a scarcity of poultry meat in spring, and one can
sell hens at a good price then, and save the expense of continued feeding.
It will not usually be profitable to keep hens for a third season. Each
year enough pullets should be saved to take the place of the older hens
Without some method of identification it will b.e difficult to separate the
hens of different ages. The best method for this is to use numbered leg-
bands, and keep a record of the flock. This method will pay many times
over for the time and cost of marking the chickens. It is probable that
three-fifths or more of the hens in Florida are more than three years old.
Consequently the egg production is low.
State papers please copy.