12 Hens...all but two have stopped laying...Please help.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ttm37148, Nov 12, 2014.

  1. ttm37148

    ttm37148 New Egg

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    I know there are a lot of threads regarding why hens can stop laying and I have been through many of them but cannot seem to find a solution so I thought I'd try posting a specific thread.

    We have 12 Buff Orpingtons that we have had for 2-3 years. All have been great layers but in June and July many started to molt and the egg production slowed as expected. Then we discovered mites around mid July which we promptly took care of however, only two hens are still laying regularly (about 2-3 eggs a week). About twice a month, we will get an addition 2 eggs from somewhere but we can't tell which girl is laying. About half our girls still go into the nesting boxes but we only find 1 egg if any. We do have a rooster but he has been with the flock since the beginning. Feed is layers pellets from the feed store and scraps from the garden. Water is changed every day. Not really any stress that we know of. They are in a 8x8 coup with an 20x30 run and have the ability to fly out if they desire which some do. The coup has windows for natural light. We know they are not laying anywhere else because we have followed them.

    We are at our wits end trying to figure out what's going on. I am hoping someone might shed a light on it. I am considering that they may have stopped due to age but it seems that all of them stopped suddenly. By the way, the two that are still laying are a year younger than the others.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
     
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I would bet that it is age. They may not lay until the spring, and they may not lay real well then, but should have larger eggs. I don't see anything wrong in your set up or feed.

    Try adding some younger birds each year.

    Mrs K
     
  3. aliciasimon

    aliciasimon Out Of The Brooder

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    Are they molting? I have 5 hens that stopped laying and I was completely puzzled. I searched possible reasons and found out they stop laying during molting. That explained (in my case) as there are tons of feathers around the coop. That non-production lasted about 3 weeks. They are back to almost-normal egg-laying now.
     
  4. mtngirl35

    mtngirl35 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree. My oldest girls are only 19 months old but I will probably start a new round of chicks next spring to be ready to step up when my older girls slow down in production. I will probably do so every spring to keep the ages staggered so my laying flock will stay strong and younger girls will still lay when older girls are molting.
     
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Ideally, one should try to have a 3 generational flock, but I have tried for years, and often have to readjust my plans, dang predators.

    Add some each year, and let some go each year.

    As to the op, how do the combs and wattles look on your birds? Are they faded out, or bluish colored?

    Mrs K
     
  6. ttm37148

    ttm37148 New Egg

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    Mrs. K,

    Their combs and waddles are somewhat faded from when they were younger. None are bluish. I have checked for ticks and mites but have not found any. They all look healthy and are adequately plump. I know they are not moulting as many of them did that in June and July.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    UhHuh...I'd lock them in the coop for a few days to a week to be sure.....but you are also dealing with shortening days.

    Free range birds sometimes need to be 'trained'(or re-trained) to lay in the coop nests, especially new layers. Leaving them locked in the coop for 2-3 days can help 'home' them to lay in the coop nests. They can be confined to coop 24/7 for a few days to a week, or confine them at least until mid to late afternoon. You help them create a new habit and they will usually stick with it.

    Older layers need 14-16 hours of light to lay regularly thru winter. Last winter I used a 40 watt incandescent light(this year I am using a CFL) that comes on early in the morning to provide 14-15 hours of light and they go to roost with the natural sundown. Last year I started the lighting increase a bit late(mid October), the light should be increased slowly, and the pullets didn't start laying until late December. Here's pretty good article on supplemental lighting. Some folks think that using lighting shortens the years a hen will lay, I don't agree with that theory but I also plan to cull my older hens for soup at about 3 years old.
     
  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Laying hens should have bright red combs and wattles, I think that is caused by hormones. Pale combs is evident in hens that are not laying. Bluish combs is a sign of heart problems and in my experience, the end is rather near. I think you may not get eggs until late January, depending on where you live.

    Egg chickens do a little better, at total number of eggs each year, dual purpose hens that the BO's are do not produce as many eggs each year. But I agree with AArt, either they have a secret nest, or the daylight is too short for those older hens.

    Mrs K
     
  9. ttm37148

    ttm37148 New Egg

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    None of their combs or waddles are pink, most are just a slight faded red or a deep blood red. Not much difference in color between the combs and waddles of the non-laying hens and the two that are laying. I know they do not have a secret nest because there are only two hens that fly out of the coup and they just go visit our goats for the day and fly back. We live in TN and we are still getting about 9 hours of good sun throughout the day but the laying issue started when they molted last July. They never really started producing again after they molted. We found and took care of the mite problem towards the end of July and checked them weekly after that.
    I thought maybe worms or parasites but they have been checked for those and are all healthy. We did lose one of our girls about a month ago for no apparent reason but was told it was probably a heart attack or stroke. We found her one afternoon on the floor of the coup near the food. No injury or anything out of the ordinary. My Son found her and thought she was sleeping until she didn't move when he tried to pet her. I don't think it is connected to the egg laying problem but wanted to put it out there in case there is something I am missing.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2014
  10. carolinasculpture

    carolinasculpture Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi! I agree with the folks who think age may be the issue. It seems that the hatchery chicks grow up to be hens that lay well for about 2-3 years and then decline. Like others have said, it seems to work. Well to decide how many hens you want to have and then build the flock year by year. We feel that 15 hens and 1 roo is the max for us. When we first started with chickens, we got a bunch if chicks who then all aged out at about the same time. Since they were pets, we kept them as loved "free-loaders". When we had a predator destroy our flock, we started over. This time we got 4 pullets and I roo chick to start with. We plan to add 2 to 3 new pullets each year. We have had BOs in the past, the ones that weren't be
    broody...all the time...did really decline in laying at about 2 1/2 years of age. We get hatchery chicks, but others have said that getting hens from a breeder may provide hens that lay longer in life. Good luck!
     

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