First off, I am a new chicken owner and appreciate this site more than I can express.
I have 6 hens that are 6 months old. They have been laying around 5 eggs a day for about a month. One of my buff orpingtons went broody the second week of August. I tried all the suggestions to get her out of it. She was determined to be a mama. Since nothing worked, and I really didn't mind having a few more hens, I went to the local farm store 2 weeks ago and got 3 more chicks. The transition for the broody hen and the 3 newbies went very well In fact she is one happy mama and has a very strong bond with her new babies.
The rain that wasn't supposed to start for 4 days started the next day and turned fairly cold. Or maybe I should say cold for 2 day olds. It rained for 4 days straight and got colder each day. Even after the rain stopped it still took another 4 days for it to warm up enough for the new chicks. Anyway, I had to protect them from drafts and the cold and my coop is just one big room with the exception of the 3 nesting boxes. My hen was still figuring out the mama thing and wasn't as attentive as she needed to be or as bonded to the chicks as she is now. In the meantime I needed to keep the door shut for the 3 chicks to stay warm until Lilly figured it out.
I set up a nesting box in our old well house for the 5 other hens to lay since the coop was unavailable to them during the day. I still put them in the coop at night and shut the door as always. At first 4 of the 5 seemed to be fine with laying in the well house, but my Ameraucana doesn't like it and has stopped laying. The rest have slowed down considerably over the past 2 weeks since the new chicks came to live with them. I only got 3 eggs on each of the past 2 days and only 1 egg today.
It is warm again and I have been leaving the lid up on the coop the past several days for the other hens to get in to lay but they aren't going in the coop to lay. I'm sure part of the problem is the very protective new mama (she actually growls at the other hens at times) and the other problem I'm sure would be the break in their usual pattern.
Will they resume laying in the coop on their own and will they get back to their regular volume of eggs, or have I just confused the crud out of them? I feel bad that I've upset the balance. Any suggestions?