I am a newbie with 5 Rhode Island Reds. I have only had the birds about 1.5 weeks and they are 6 months old. Laid 5 eggs the first day (one each I project) and then have gradually dropped off. I have read almost all the posts, FAQ's and many other links and cannot seem to find out what their problem is, unless its just stress.
They have a coop off the ground 4 x 6 feet with a plank they walk up to get in or jump up from the end. NO perch inside, but we have 5 14" x 14" nesting boxes. Hay is the medium I chose to pad the coop and boxes. I clean their mess daily, water, and bought pellets from the breeder we purchased them from.
Their behavior is fun and funny, however, they do put themselves to bed at night and are ready to get out before dawn.
I feed them standard pellets supplied from breeder.
Put in some egg shells to aide in egg production.
Standing fresh water daily (water feeder)
and a whole fenced back yard for them to roam (40' x 35').
My husband thought they needed a perch so he created one on a wooden dowel extending from our fence up about 24".. NEVER has one hen jumped up to perch! LOL
They roam, peck, and go under the coop (shade I suspect) and then lay in cool dirt. They come to the fence when I go in and want scratch snacks (corn) which I give twice daily, but now i have noticed their feed is not being consumed. So I reduced it to one and then none one day.
What am I doing wrong? LOL Do they need a perch inside too? I am hesitant to try and squeeze one in since they don't perch or jump up during the day outside with lots of room.