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Pullets ready to lay? Hen not laying?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

We are brand new to chickens as our town just passed an ordinance allowing us to have up to 6 hens (No roosters) in our back yards. WE have raised two sets of chicks so far, since February of this year. We have been raising chickens since February.

 

We presently have two Cochin's, two Buff Orpingtons (all of these are around 20 weeks old -raised from chicks) and in the flock now are two 20 month old Black Australorp's who were introduced slowly over 8 weeks ago (they were introduced to the flock over a period of 2 weeks). One of them lays regularly (noisy britches) about 5 a week, but the other one does not lay at all and has not since we got her over 8 weeks ago. This is my question what is wrong with this hen? She eats and drinks fine, she is rather large (bigger than her sister) but is not bigger than she was when we got her. She was laying when we first got her, the 2nd day she laid from the roost and has not laid since. 

 

One of the Buff Orpingtons is ready to lay, her comb is bright red and she is doing the chicken laying dance. However the other one has pea comb just as do the Cochin's.

 

They free roam every day in our 1/3 acre back yard surrounded by a brick fence (6-8 feet tall). The Coop is 8 feet wide, 6 foot long, and 6 foot high. Has three different roosts that are all connected by quite separate from each other in case they need space. They are always closed up at night and then let out in the morning.

They get a combination of GMO / Organic layer crumbles - Organic grains (rolled oats, barley, Non-GMO corn (tiny bit right now),  Black oil sunflower seeds, flax seed, cotton seed meal, and red millet) for scratch which they get every evening between 1/2 - 1 hour before bed time. They have a timer on the coop that stays on until midnight every day as the hours are getting shorter.

 

The Black Australorps are definitely Alpha and Beta of the flock, now. They don't attack the other bird’s just stare them down every few minutes.

 

I guess I should say we have three dogs and the youngest of the dogs is a chicken protector from any Cats that may enter the yard.  We have taken steps to stop predators from coming into the yard, however those sneaky cats can jump the 10 foot fence.

 

They have a large swimming pool full of fermenting food scraps and straw, it’s a large compost pile, which they can get into and scratch for all the wonderful bugs that think they are safe from predators in there. The bottom is open in some places so it drains also.

 

The black Australorps came from a home with a fenced in (12'x24') run and a (15' x 15') coop for 25 hens. They have a smaller coop but less hens to share it with, there is no run because they free range on my yard. They also have both molted in the last 12 weeks. They were finishing their molt when we got them. But now they are great and all their feathers are back. 

 

For treats they get organic Romaine lettuce, Pomegranates, apples, hydroponic greens, watermelon, a wee bit of scratch (as described before) and of course their crumbles. I tried pellets but no one would eat them so we are left with crumbles. Sometimes they get freeze dried meal worms, but their absolute favorite is real live super worms. They are given these every two weeks or so. We also have grubs in our yard and they eat them regularly, almost everyday.

 

Wondering if anyone has any idea why this one black Australorp is not laying? Why the 2nd Orpington is not developing as fast as her sister, she seems to be around 6 weeks delayed and am I doing something wrong?

 

Thanks for reading and ask questions if you need more information.

post #2 of 6
All chickens grow and develop at different ages, most Orpingtons begin laying at 5-6 months so the other should get going within the month.

You Australorps will both quit laying eventually to molt and recover, all chickens over a year will quit laying in the fall and resume next year, most will start in February and March. The one still laying is just a better layer than the other, all hens are different as far as laying and whether they are consistent or not.
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
post #3 of 6

If you could fill out your profile we wouldn't have to guess at your circumstances, such as if it's fall or spring where you live.

 

But on the assumption you are living where it is presently fall, your Australorp, at 20 months, will be experiencing her first molt. To confirm that she's molting, you should be seeing an over abundance of feathers in the coop and yard from her. If you look closely, you may see areas on her body where there are patches of pin feathers, such as back and around the vent.

 

It would explain why she has stopped laying, and she will resume once all the feathers grow in again, perhaps around January or before.

post #4 of 6
She's probably not laying because of stress.
post #5 of 6

They may be getting ready to molt as mentioned.....and they might also be laying out in the range area.

 

Free range birds sometimes need to be 'trained'(or re-trained) to lay in the coop nests, especially new layers.

Leaving them locked in the coop for 2-3 days can help 'home' them to lay in the coop nests.

They can be confined to coop 24/7 for a few days to a week, or confine them at least until mid to late afternoon.

You help them create a new habit and they will usually stick with it. ..at least for a good while, then repeat as necessary.

 

Also, you are feeding a lot of different foods....

.......sometimes best to keep things simple with a balanced chicken ration with minimum 16% protein for layers.

The other foods may be diluting their daily protein level...and molters need more protein to grow those feathers back quicker. 

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

I live in Southern New Mexico and the Australorps came from El Paso about 60 miles south of me. It is still in the low to mid 80's and 50/60 at night.

They both finished their molts just before coming to my home about 8 weeks ago. Noisy Britches (the australorp that is laying) started laying around a week after they got to the house and before the two and my four pullets started all living together.

They don't lay in the yard, I have been checking the entire yard every day for a month.

I have tried not giving "treats" but the lady that had raised the Australorps from chicks told me that she fed organic greens, pomegranates (when in season) and watermelon every day of the summer for the last 4 months (when in season) We have organic watermelon available all the way until the end of October here. Then last year in the winter she fed them squash and pumpkin (to help aid with digestion and worming) so I will continue this also.

 

I have been attempting to create their same home feel, except they free range at my home and don' t have to share their home with 13 other pullets all under the age of 3 months. My girls are all at 20 weeks now and one is ready to lay soon, as her comb and wattles are bright red most of the time, she almost looks full grown although I know she' not as she is buff Orpington, she is not near big enough yet.

 

Noisy Britches the laying Australorp makes all kinds of noise if she is not let out of the coop right at sun rise (I did not get her into this habit) and she squawks bloody hell if we don't go get her egg right away after she lays. I can't imagine what kind of noise she would make if we left her in the coop all day. I have neighbors after all that probably don't want to hear a near to crowing hen at 0630 every morning, I know I don't. I have thought about leaving the tractor door open at night but we have way to many feral cats in our neighborhood.

 

At least all my ladies and girls love to sleep in the coop.

 

I almost lost one of my Cochins this past summer when the temperature was above 107 in the shade but we got her back with wet cool rags and making her stay in the coop. But she doesn't care about staying in the coop, she rather prefers it actually, even now. She is mostly in the coop. But all the others prefer to be outside roaming the yard. I have been able to tell that they all are eating more crumble recently as I have had to fill their feeder at least twice this week alone when in the past 6 weeks or so I have only filled once every 10 days or so.

 

We keep threatening the non-laying Australorp that soon she will be Green chicken enchiladas, but I don't have a clue how long to wait until maybe she just won't lay any longer. She is on 18% protein crumble now and was on 18% NON-gmo, organic feed just like their mom had them on (same food) same everything when it comes to food. I have checked her to make sure she is not egg bound and nothing there.

 

She eats fine, drinks fine, sleeps fine, feels fine and everything else is fine. They all get probiotics to help with the stress in their water and when it was really hot they got electrolytes also. But now that they can rest without panting (they also have a fan), a light to help with those short evenings we are getting now and water and food available 24/7 in several places in the ranging area. Everything seems to be great with everyone although no one but noisy britches is laying.

 

I hope this helps some knowing where I live and what the temperature is like and that my ladies have already gone through their 2nd molt in August. Any other questions I can answer to better assist with this?

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