12 chickens, 9 eggs, 30 days

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lhousesoccer, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. lhousesoccer

    lhousesoccer Out Of The Brooder

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    My flock was going strong until about October. Then they molted and haven't recovered. They started back up in mid-November sporadically, but it's been dismal since. I'm lucky if I get one egg a week. I keep a daily log of eggs collected, and in the last 30 days I've got 9 eggs. Granted, it's winter (Vermont), but I have a light on from 3pm to 11pm so they're getting about 15 hours of light. Lots of food and water. There's just nothing in the egg boxes, day after day. Here's my flock and each bird's age:

    1 Brown Leghorn - 0.5
    1 Barred Rock - 1.5
    1 Auracana - 1.5
    1 Buff Orpington - 1.5
    1 Black Giant - 1.5
    1 Light Brahma - 1.5
    4 Golden Comets - 1.5
    2 Welsummers - 2.5

    I'm about to start turning them into stew, soup, and fajitas if it continues. Frustrating!
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
  2. englands rocks

    englands rocks New Egg

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    You need to have your lights comin on early in the morning until it gets daylight
     
  3. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Totally normal. After they molt and grow in their new feathers, they have to get their body weight back up before they can resume laying. Average molting time in my birds is 3 months. Some are a bit quicker to come back into lay, some a bit slower. The combs will start to brighten back up and soon they will be laying again.

    My welsummers combs brightened up and I thought they would be laying soon, but then they decided to molt the top of their heads.

    I have 17 birds of laying age, and no eggs. So I feel your pain.
     
  4. Millie55

    Millie55 New Egg

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    Jan 8, 2017
    I'm in Western N.Y. and have 8 layers split into 2 sperate pens. I don't supplement their light for winter. They have heated water bowls and lay crumb available. I use a thick layer of coarse sawdust in the nesting boxes. I get 5 or 6 eggs a day, only less on super fridgid days. I found that if the nesting boxes loss there saw dust from them scratching it out or compacted to much, I'll get less eggs..3 or 4. Keeping the boxes full helped me a lot. Hope this post is helpful.
     
  5. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    What time does it get dark in Vermont? If the light is going on at 3, and the sun doesn't even go down now until say almost 5, that's 2 hours of light that their little hormones don't even notice. The lights should be going on closer to actual dark and staying on a little longer. You have to adjust the light with the changing day lengths....most people set up so that the lights either go on just barely before dusk, stay on a few hours, and then go back on a couple of hours before sunrise, effectively adding light to both ends of the day. Others set theirs up to go on just in the morning, which means in some places those lights kick on about 3:30 - 4 am during the shortest days of winter.

    Also if they were molting about the same time the days were getting shorter, they might not really start up until March or so. Molting takes a lot out of them, and so does egg production. When you add the stress of shorter, colder days their bodies naturally tell them to conserve, conserve, conserve to survive. Yours seem young enough that when they do kick in, they'll do fine. I'd rather have hens that are as strong and healthy as possible for the spring/summer/fall egg laying season. I think it's better for their bodies with less reproductive issues later down the line, but that's just me. I also like my birds to conserve their energy and use their winter nutrition to fuel and rejuvenate their bodies. I'm not above buying a dozen eggs here and there if it means stronger birds and more eggs in the spring and summer.

    I think sometimes, especially when we have a coop full of "good" layers, we kinda start looking at them like egg Pez dispensers. It just ain't so. They need "down time". I know a lot of people don't agree with me, and that's fine. In your situation you want them laying, which is certainly your decision. So take a closer look at your actual "it's getting dark now" timing. Good luck with them!!
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
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  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Even with lights last year mine molted and didn't lay...pretty hard to fool mother nature.
     
  7. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    X2. My hens who molted in October and stopped laying around the middle of October are just starting to lay again. I don't add supplemental light to give their bodies a rest, but one thing I do is switch out the layer feed to a higher protein all flock food and I give hi protein treats such as meal worms (not too man) and even cat and dog kibble. It seems the most any one hen is down is ten weeks and I try to start enough chicks in the spring to carry us over the lean time. This year's pullets took an extra month to start laying but our ducks carried us through till the chicken eggs began again.
     
  8. lhousesoccer

    lhousesoccer Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 26, 2010
    Thanks to everyone for the insights, encouragement and sharing of pain! It's discouraging going out there day after day after day and opening the egg boxes and seeing nothing, yet you keep pouring the food to them! This is my 7th winter keeping laying hens, and I know and accept that egg production decreases in the winter, but it's never been this bad. I usually average 10-14 chickens at any given time, and a "slow period" in the past would be 2-3 eggs per day from a dozen hens. But I'm getting about 2 per week right now, and it's been that way for over a month.

    I know a lot of people on here consider their chickens to be almost like pets. Forgive me, but I'm not one of those people. I'm more of a practical chicken keeper. I give them food and a home, they give me eggs. When that relationship breaks down, it's time to move on and bring in a new crew. :) Sorry if that sounds harsh. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy keeping chicken, and love watching them roam around the yard, garden and woods, doing their thing, so there is a small amount of enjoyment/entertainment that goes along with having them.

    For now, I've changed the timer to come on at 3am and off at 7. Right now in VT, it's pretty dark by 4:30pm and sunup is around 6am.

    I also agree with the bedding suggestion, and I typically turn the shavings over frequently and keep them fluffed up. Another issue I'm having right now is that a couple hens have decided that they don't like roosting on the roost in the coop any more, and they've decided they like the egg boxes better, which means a mess in the shavings every morning which I have to scrape out. If I decide to thin the flock, they will be the first ones in the soup pot!
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I hear ya...am barely covering feed costs right now, may be a bit in the 'red'.......but rest of the year covers it.
    I should slaughtered in the fall, but didn't....wish I had now.
    Cull list remains, to be executed(literally-haha!) once it warms up.... to make room in coop for chicks.
    But even my pullets are not all laying, a couple are molting, some never started laying.
    Have a couple molters and/or low birds that are trying to roost in nests, they get put on roost when I lock up after dark.
     

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