2 flocks, both duds, can't decide what to do!!


9 Years
Jun 4, 2010
N. Ontario CANADA
I have 2 different flocks, my first flock of rhode Island reds I got summer of 2010 and they laid incredibly well from september 2010 until about june 2011, I would say 18 of the 21 were laying, but then in june when they should have been laying better than in the winter one by one ceased laying. by this time they were 12 months of age. they were not molting and in good health and spirits, plenty of light, a clean coop and the same feed as always, layer pellets. of course they free ranged all spring summer and fall.

I figured they were coming into molt earlier than normal so I didn't make a big deal out of it since I had gotten a second flock of 40 in may and would likely be laying by september. I figured the older flock needed a break. and would resume laying when they were ready. I let them do their chicken thing without disturbing them too much except on sundays when I would clean the coops and do a check over on them to be sure they were all still in good health.

the new girls, 40 variety layers, black stars, red stars, rhode island reds and barred rocks enjoyed their free range summer and fall and in september as expected some began to lay, very tiny eggs, but I would say that by the end of september about 16 or so were laying. October the eggs were getting a bit bigger but I was only getting about 12 now per day, still none from the older flock.

then november, maybe 6 from the new girls, December, 2 to 3, and now nothing what so ever. And still nothing from the older girls.

but I have seen a massive increase in one thing...since they stopped laying I am going through 100lbs of feed per week, they are eating and eating and eating, but laying nothing. when the days began to get shorter the lights in the barn were once again placed on timers like last year, 12 hours per day, on at 5 am and off at 5 pm. The feeders are filled every 2 days as they are quite big, and the waterers are thawed and changed daily.

I want to say its just the weather, cause well its quite cold in Northern ontario, but honestly it just makes no sense to me at all. I have 30 something customers all waiting for them to finally start putting out those eggs again, and the feed bill that their eggs paid for is now costing me 160 bucks per month.

today my husband asked me to make a final decision, he wants me to decide between keeping them as they are until summer and see what happens, or processing them and getting 2 new replacement flocks. He truly believes that they will not lay again, and we are losing our customers to other farms. So the pressure really is on me to make a choice, I cannot keep these 2 flocks and add another 2 in order to get the eggs going.

I hate having to be the one to make this decision, but like he said they are my chickens, my final say. But he did remind me we are on a tight budget and feeding animals that are not producing,

anything I could try that i haven't done already, I already laced their feed with cayenne, the barn is well ventilated, it is not heated, but unlike last year it is insulated this year, so they are much warmer in the barn then they were last year!!

any input would be much appreciated,



9 Years
Jun 4, 2010
N. Ontario CANADA
they get checked every sunday, after I clean coops they all get an inspection, time consuming but they are all in good health.

Edited to add, I had a vet at the farm in the early fall, when I thought I had a couple sick hens, turned out to be heat exhaustion, but he said the flock was very healthy, and in fact he is one of my egg customers.
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12 Years
May 8, 2007
What's their diet like? What feeds do you use? Is it a national brand, local or do you mix your own? Any supplemental food? Any free range?


Love My Chickens
10 Years
Jul 28, 2009
Floyds Knobs, Indiana
My Coop
My Coop
Are you sure they haven't been laying elsewhere (because you mentioned freeranging)? Have you scoured the area? One year seems really early to burn out (for your older girls), and your younger ones should be laying decently with the added light.
Something definitely seems off...
If you can't figure this out, then I'd consider processing the older birds. But I'd probably give the younger ones till early spring.


9 Years
Sep 27, 2010
I would search for hidden nests....that has to be the answer...sounds like they have a great life...good luck and come back and update us.


11 Years
May 29, 2010
You can process one flock and add one new one. That way you can find out if the old flock will lay again and even if they don't, you will have a new flock growing up.
If you can't choose which flock to eat, make a 3rd keeper flock of a mix of all birds. Then the left over birds from the original separate two, eat them.

Do you still let them out to free range? If they are all locked up, they may be on the more depressed side. I let mine out no mater what and most still lay.

If they are eating the eggs, you would notice a huge mess at some point. Shells, sticky nests or poles, etc.


10 Years
Jan 23, 2010
Berry Creek, Ca
Many things come to mind. Something or someone stealing eggs, egg eaters, parasites, improper feed, stress. A perfect mixture of things.. Rats eat feed and eggs. Mix red pepper into feed. It should kick start any slackers and keep mammals out of the food.

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