We have had nine chickens in our backyard for the last two years. First we purchased five point of lay pullets from a commercial chicken farm, and they began to lay almost immediately and have been very reliable up until a couple of months ago.
Six months after getting our first lot of chooks, we purchased five more hens that were approximately 18 months old and were about to be sent for slaughter. These five were not as reliable as the younger girls, but at least three eggs a day was the norm for them. Unfortunately one of the chooks passed away after becoming ill.
Since summer arrived two months ago, (approx 20 degrees celcius here in New Zealand), our youngest chooks have gone off the lay completely. They have not really lost any feathers, and look very healthy and happy. I feed them mash and add Kelp and Diatmaceous Earth. They have water with a clove of garlic in to prevent worms, and my mum cooks up her left over vege scraps for them, which they get every couple of days. They free range in the garden all day and sleep in their coop at night.
I'm not sure if it is a molt they are going through, and if they are likely to resume laying. How long does the rest period last, and could anything else be preventing them from laying? They have been so reliable up until now, that I have resisted hubby's request to turn them into roast chicken and get some new chooks. I've checked aroung the garden thoroughly, and have not found any egg stashes.
I welcome your advice.