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Can my chickens be molting early May?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
We have 3 backyard chickens - 2 New Hampshires and 1 Silver Laced. (We started with 5 from 1 day old) but 2 have passed 1 last Fall, and the other a couple of months ago - we don't know the reason? We think the first may have been ill, and the last we were concerned since they had stopped laying as often that perhaps she was egg bound.

Our 3 remaining have basically quit laying. They won't be 2 years old till September 1, 2016 - so they are only about a year and half now. We thought molting was the reason, but there are only a few small feathers here and there. No bald or patchy spots. They have a large enough coop as it has about 8 nesting boxes (although their eggs were almost always all laid in the same one); and they have a large run off the coop that is more than plenty of room for them. It is probably 10' by 10'. It has nesting perch, swings, hanging water bottle in the run. They have automatic feeder and waterer in the lower area of their coop, which they have full access to all day.

We open the door from the coop to the run every morning early and leave it open for them all day till they return to the coop for the night. Their run is completely fenced, and fenced on top and buried wire at edges. We have had absolutely no problems with any predators.

Initially before this started their were a few eggs pecked every now and then and eaten. They get plenty of their own nutritional food, plus plenty of scraps of vegetables that we have researched to be safe. We buy them bags of greens - lettuce, cabbage, collards, etc. They get fruit now and then as well. They even love cooked rice and cooked pasta and cooked oatmeal. They get treats of meal worms and corn/scratch now and then as well.

They have stopped laying and my husband teases that they will soon be soup! But they are definitely our pets, but we are concerned, because everything I have read states molting is usually in the Fall and during shorter day light hours. We live in Florida so it's definitely not getting cooler here and we are on daylight savings time. They have plenty of shade in their run, and lots of dirt for dust baths. We let them out in the backyard to run and pick at grass, weeds, etc when we are out there with them.

We have now not even seen any signs of any eggs laid or eaten - so production has come to a stop. We got 1 egg a few days ago, but that is all for the past month.

Any thoughts or comments will help me. I'm going to get them some high protein cat food to supplement now and then, and try some plain yogurt and add some apple cider vinegar to their hanging bottle in the run to see if that all helps.

Any other suggestions or confirmation as to what this sounds like????
post #2 of 6
First check your yard thoroughly for hidden nest.

Second, I will ask what type of bagged ration you are feeding. It sounds like they are getting lots of good stuff but all lacks enough protein to sustain laying in some birds. I would feed a higher protein ration like an all flock with oyster shells on the side and cut out some of the extras. Hens need a total protein of 16-18% to keep laying, add extras like corn and pasta and the total protein goes down. Cat food will sometimes give chickens diarrhea, and mine wouldn't eat it. I give cottage cheese for a protein boost or even scrambled eggs.

The third question is what breeds are they? Some sex links or high production birds will often stop laying after a year or two.
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
Thread Starter 
We don't have a big yard - and both my husband and I have walked through the run several times and there isn't any sign of them having laid an egg in there anywhere. We also keep them confined to one section of the yard where there is greens that they can munch on and forage in when they are out. I don't think we have a hidden nest or we would certainly see it as we are out in the yard quite a bit ourselves.

As for the food he purchases it and it has the oyster shell and we keep that separate as their main food. They don't get pasta very much - because we don't have much in left overs in that area. LOL. I just meant that we have given it to them in the past. We do give corn scratch but just a handful or two for them to scratch up when in the run. Do you think I should cut way back on that? What can I substitute in their run then since they have pretty much picked it clean of any grass or weeds.

We have 2 New Hampshire Reds, and 1 Silver Laced. They are a year and half.

I went out again after dinner last night and they were sitting on their perch in the run. They didn't even run up to the door to the run to get out into the yard, but then again it was getting later in the day so they soon would be heading up into the coop, but they usually do come down to see if i have any treats for them. I don't see all that many feathers to think that it really is molting, but my husband thought there were a few more feathers than usual. We are stumped. But going to try the extra protein foods to see if anything happens.

I guess its a wait and see thing?
post #4 of 6
All hens have up and downs during the laying season, I'm getting less eggs currently than a month ago.

Many dual purpose breeds don't lay consistently but have better personalities. I haven't had New Hampshire yet, my Wyandotte aren't the best layers. For the best production egg laying breeds are best, though my best layers have been my buff laced polish, but they are crazy and hysterical birds.

I would still give scratch, it is mentally stimulating and chickens enjoy it. I used to feed a layer but switch to an all flock and have seen improvements in my chickens, so it might be something to try.

Hopefully you are just having a lull.
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 #5 of 6

If the hens are about 20 months old then it is probably a molt.  I rarely see feathers all over or bald chickens during a molt.  Chickens normally lay 12-16 months before molting.    If they went this long, the are pretty good layers.

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
How long do you think they will be like this? I've read that when "molting" it can be anywhere from a month to 2 months.
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