All good information, Diana, however, your suggestions will not work for me. To address some of them in the spirit of working out the problem and finding a solution, the only real problems I've had with this flock have been due to bumblefoot and a few soft egg issues during times of molt. Not all the birds have had bumblefoot, but many have had it multiple times. Velvet had sour crop, but I found out what she got into to cause that. I have had a very healthy flock since I started keeping birds. Never anything respiratory.
I live on a mountain with rocks, briars, and multiple stumps and logs. They roam in the woods and jump on the stacked woodpile and scratch in the rocky dirt, etc. It's either that or stop them freeranging. I have three permanent coops that cannot be moved; tractors wont work on mountainous terrain, so they have to stay where they are. There is no grass here. It's just is not an option for most people to move their birds. If I moved them from their soft dirt pen where the ground has been worked and tilled multiple times, they'd have to be moved into rockier, thorny ground, so it would actually be much worse. There is no "less shady" area in the woods; it's why I have a hard time with a good garden here-not much direct sunlight.
As far as lighting, there was definitely no overlighting. They got extended days their first winter only with low wattage bulbs, up to 14 hours. Their second winter, they got no lighting, and they wont get any this winter. A heatlamp doesn't throw light over the entire room, especially when suspended low, almost touching, over the waterer and it does not stay on all night, only till about 7 p.m., then comes on at sunrise to take out any ice in the waterer trays.
As far as nutrition, they always have had good quality commercial feeds, yogurt and I even buy them dark leafy greens from time to time. They get pumpkin seeds and buttermilk on occasion for worm prevention. They get the best scratch on the market, 11-grain and 13% protein. Nothing I can do better there-I have to eat, too. I do not give them kitchen scraps because there aren't any. So, they aren't getting salt and sugar and too much fat, etc. I guarantee my birds are better fed than most. They on occasion get AviaCharge in one of the waterers and sometimes, organic ACV. I cannot imagine what else can be done for their nutrition. I'll listen to all suggestions, though.
Lastly, if it was anything here causative, then internal laying would not be limited to just my hatchery stock. ALL my layers would be affected. Also, almost all the info you posted is for broilers in a commercial setting...I would think they are rather different in so many ways than a freerange, dual purpose flock. Also, this problem here is age specific. It started after their second birthday for every one of mine affected.
Edited by speckledhen - 11/19/08 at 5:31am
This condition is accompanied by a high incidence of double-yolked eggs, prolapses of the oviduct, internal ovulation, and/or internal laying that often results in egg peritonitis and mortality. EODES is prevented by avoiding light stimulation of underweight pullets too early and following body weight and lighting recommendations for each breeder strain. Overweight hens may also have a higher incidence of erratic ovulations and mortality associated with egg peritonitis. "
In regard to this passage, two things here I've never had are lots of double yolked eggs. We rarely get those. And I've never had even one prolapse in my girls. All hens are their proper weight for their breed (I have weighed them) except the ones dying from laying internally and some in a hard molt, who have lost a bit of weight.
I am going to peruse all the links you gave me and look for more clues. Other than lighting and weight control, I dont see what else is in there that is applicable in my situation since they get no light and are not over or underweight (except the heavily molting ones)
I cant see how any part of my usual management is causing internal laying. I would welcome anyone who has been to my place and seen the setup to help me see anything that isn't being done properly-perhaps I'm too close to the situation?
Thanks for all the information. I'm going to go check the articles out now.