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- 2 and 3 year old hens have stopped laying -

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mamahagen, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. mamahagen

    mamahagen New Egg

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    Feb 7, 2012
    [​IMG] Our two and three year old hens have stopped laying. We have 17 hens and two roosters and they started dwindling down in August down to 6 eggs per day and now we are lucky if we get one or two. The one or two have been for the last month or so. All spring and summer we were getting a dozen a day. My husband has now increased the light time to turn on at 3:30 AM. He did this two weeks ago and still no change. Any advice would be helpful. We are now fighting over the 2 eggs. I have to admit I have hidden them in the fridge just so I could have them the next day. I hate going to the store to buy them. Even the cage-free organic ones are nothing compared to our eggs. We miss our eggs!
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Common for the age of the birds and time of year.
    I posted the following on another chicken site but rather than retype I'm copying and pasting: [​IMG]

    Once pullets commence laying, they go like gangbusters through fall, winter, spring and summer. Then, normally the second autumn and every one thereafter they will molt, which ranges from 1 to 4 months depending on weather they do a hard or soft molt. A hard molt will be obvious, a soft molt not so much.
    During molt they lay very few eggs, if any at all. It takes a lot of protein and energy to grow a new winter down coat. So, aside from the super laying one sees the first year or two of laying, production drops year after year.

    A broody hen won't lay any eggs. Because if she did, that would cause a staggered hatch and dead embryos when she abandons the eggs to take care of the chicks.
    The broody hen won't affect the others' production. They don't choose to lay eggs. If they are in production, they'll lay eggs. If a hen is in their favorite nest, they'll either choose another nest, climb in with her and lay, wait till she comes out to eat or lay somewhere other than a nest. But if in production, the egg will come. It's an ovulation cycle that can't be willed.

    Day length is a major factor in egg production. With shorter days and having older birds, production usually slacks off. Adding light will help with this.
    Recently, I had 21 pullets and hens and was down to one or two eggs a day. 7 were POL so I didn't expect much from them. 4 were broody. 2 had been attacked by predators so were stressed. Most of the rest were molting. I actually had to buy eggs for the first time in almost 5 years. Bummer.

    Molt is a normal process and providing more protein during molt can help them build feathers faster.
    Another way to help your chickens through molt is to reduce stress as much as possible. Try to avoid handling your chickens, and bringing new birds into the flock, if possible.

    I think when people begin a new flock with new birds and they lay so well for a year or so, it creates expectations the birds can't meet as they age.
    We spend a lot of money and time to keep the flock and still have to buy eggs. It creates a situation where we either keep pets that feed us fewer and fewer breakfasts over their life or choose to cull and start with a new flock every couple years.
    A lot of breeds will produce 150 to 300 eggs or more a year for the first couple and then fewer and fewer every year thereafter.
    IMO breeds that take a break and only put out 150 to 200 a year, and we don't add light and they don't get taken by disease or predators will continue to feed us for many years but don't be disappointed when they shut down for a quarter of the year.
     
  3. mamahagen

    mamahagen New Egg

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    Feb 7, 2012
    Thanks much. I guess we need to get more chicks each year if we want to keep this up. But, we don't want to overcrowd the coop, especially in the winter. How long would you say an average chicken lives?
     
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    St. Louis, MO
    Not taken by predators, a hen can live 10-20 years.
    Often producing through that time if they are heritage breeds that weren't selected to kick them all out the first few years. They just lay fewer each year. They do tend to be bigger eggs on average though.
     
  5. mamahagen

    mamahagen New Egg

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    Well I'm not telling my husband they live that long! I can't imagine culling any of them.
     
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Facts of life.
    I imagine that's why some quit raising them.
     

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