I wanted to do an update on my chickens. As I had started two threads about the various problems I was having I figured I'd combine it into a new thread.
First, many thanks to those who took the time to give suggestions; they may or may not have all applied to my situation but ALL were considered and appreciated. It is hard to diagnose a problem online so again, I appreciate the attempt.
Second (or first as far as problems go) - my babies are laying again. I have ten at laying age and am getting between seven and ten eggs a day. My two Red Leghorns lay huge double yokers consistently so I can forgive them giving their bottoms a break. We had about a month where the majority of the girls laid off - interestingly enough, only our two Cornish Rock hens consistently produced.
Third - I placed our RIR in quarantine for a season to observe to see if she continued eating eggs. Maybe she realized she was potentially on the menu. I caught her the first day looking like she was about to break an egg she had just laid and snatched it from her. Long story short, I was planning on putting her in permanent solitary and she got out and mingled with the rest of the girls. I hadn't banded my RIRs yet so couldn't tell one from the other; most of the girls weren't laying at the time so I figured watch and wait. When they started laying again there's been no egg eating so problem solved and I'm glad I wasn't too quick to cull her. After all, I cull her she feeds me once, I don't she feeds me for a couple of years.
Fourth - Don't know why the stop in laying. I was concerned I had done something wrong but took all the advice I received into my solution(s) and moved on several fronts:
1) As was mentioned, the change in seasons and shorter days might have had something to do with it so I installed a light bulb on a time to give them "longer" days. They seem to enjoy it once they got used to it. I get a kick out of watching them in their roost getting settled for the night.
2) Diet - always a concern. When I studied on diet even before the problems I knew getting the right balance was important. At first I mixed my Dumor Layer feed with Purina Game Bird Feed I buy for my Peachicks. I also made extra oyster shell available separately. About a week ago I found a highly recommended local feed producer who mixes a very high protein food with oyster shell mix; about four dollars cheaper than Dumor and I like the fact he's local. I still serve oyster shell on the side.
So, I don't know, maybe it was a seasonal lay-off (no pun intended); maybe it was diet, maybe it was an upset over the dusting, maybe it was all three or none of the above, but they are laying again. Problem solved or gone.
Fifth - Breathing problem. I took my White Rock to the vet, they said I was doing right to give her antibiotics. At my request they did a blood test - it took about a month to come back negative (glad she wasn't positive or she'd been dead when I found out she was sick). So my flock is safe. I figure if she was positive my flock was, if she's negative, my flock is. The vet agrees.
Sixth - Now I have one of my Easter Eggers isolated to heal a busted air sac. She got too rambunctious one morning when I came to open the door to their coop and slammed against the wire trying to fly out. Next thing I know she has a balloon in her chest. I took her to the vet the same time I took the White Rock. He was reluctant to aspirate it as he said it would probably just refill if the hole wasn't healed. So for the past month or two I've watched it go up and down. I tried putting her in general population but the other birds pick on her so bad she ran back to her cage. Heartbreaking.
Wondering if she'll ever heal. But she seems comfortable other than the fact she's confined so I'm content to wait.
It's always something.
Again, thanks for all the help. This site has been such an asset.