24 week hens still not laying?!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by bglass, Nov 3, 2016.

  1. bglass

    bglass Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 31, 2015
    Vilonia, Arkansas
    We started raising chickens this year. We have 2 Rhode Island reds that were born in march and for sure laying, have been for a while. We added 15 more hens and 1 rooster with hatch dates around may 25, so they are all 24 weeks.
    They are:
    3 white leghorns
    3 comets
    3 barred rock
    1 EE
    3 buff orph's
    2 French black copper maran's
    1 rooster French black copper maran

    The rooster has been crowing for a few weeks and does the limbo with only the 2 older hens that I've seen.
    All hens are healthy and happy, have a chicken Mansion for a coop, 8 nesting boxes. They free range all day on 10 acres (though they stay real close to the coop and house), locked in the coop at night. They do sleep in the nesting boxes though rather than the roosts and it drives me crazy. They're fed layer feed.
    We did have a predator issue a couple months ago where we lost about 15 chickens to what we think were hawks. Haven't lost another in a while though.

    Anyway, we are getting only 2 eggs a day, all tan. Pretty sure it's just the two older hens laying. What's the deal? It's still in the 80s here in Arkansas, daylight about 10 1/2 hrs. Will we have to wait until spring for eggs?
     
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Pics of the 'mansion'...inside and out...and size in feet by feet please?

    Sleeping in the nests can be a crowding issue and/or roost location problem.
    Best if there is 1 foot of roost length per bird and roosts about a foot higher than nests.

    Birds that aren't laying should not be fed layer feed, how long have you been feeding it?
    It's usually low in protein(15-16%), which can stunt/delay their growth.....
    ......and the extra calcium is not so good for them.

    Any sign of imminent laying?
    Have you checked vents and pelvic points?
    Signs of onset of lay---I've found the pelvic points to be the most accurate.
    Squatting:
    If you touch their back they will hunker down on the ground, then shake their tail feathers when they get back up.
    Tho not all birds will do this, especially if there's a cockbird in the flock.
    This shows they are sexually mature and egg laying is close at hand.

    Combs and Wattles:
    Plump, shiny red - usually means laying.
    Shriveled, dryish looking and pale - usually means not laying.
    Tho I have found that the combs and wattles can look full and red one minute then pale back out the next due to exertion or excitement, can drive ya nuts when waiting for a pullet to lay!

    Vent:
    Dry, tight, and smaller - usually not laying.
    Moist, wide, and larger - usually laying

    Pelvic Points 2 bony points(pelvic bones) on either side of vent:
    Less than 2 fingertip widths apart usually means not laying.
    More than 2 fingertip widths apart usually means laying.



    Free ranging often lay places other than coop nests.
    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 3-4 days (or longer) can help 'home' them to lay in the coop nests. Fake eggs/golf balls in the nests can help 'show' them were to lay. 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. ..at least for a good while, then repeat as necessary.



    ETA: Pullets coming into onset of lay at this time of year can be delayed due to the low light. Might have to wait until after solstice unless you are suing supplemental lighting
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2016
    3 people like this.
  3. SueT

    SueT Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 27, 2015
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    aart said it all!
    I have 2 pullets 24 weeks of age not yet laying, a BR and an SS, not free range, so they are closely monitored. But they are not yet squatting. I am wondering about the effect of short days, well, we will just see when we get those first eggs--- meanwhile I'm buying eggs because my hens are molting and not laying either.
     
  4. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    @aart has said it all!

    I would ask, in addition to the layer, what are you feeding treat wise?

    My WLH goes through great lengths to hide eggs when it isn't raining. [​IMG] All my girls that were born in mid April have barely started to lay regularly. And 1 of my Feb born BR has already quit for the season after I blocked off her hidden nest. Some, but not all of them will squat. And usually it takes up to a month before I see eggs after I see other signs. Which includes a bunch of squawking talking. Plus I often find softees in random places before finding solid eggs, which is pretty normal when their systems are getting started up or shutting down.

    I would correct the nest sleeping ASAP. Block them off in the evening if you have to. Like mentioned, are they lower than the roost? And I highly recommend the fake eggs. Some of my girls won't lay in the boxes if they think they are raided all the time. So I leave an egg in there for their peace of mind. They like to lay where others think it is safe to.

    I prefer 20% protein Flock Raiser and oyster shell on the side for my mixed age and gender flock. Which I think you might have since you are keeping a cockerel. You might have chicks by this time next year! [​IMG] He doesn't want to eat Layer long term. The extra calcium can cause kidney issues long term.

    Best wishes!
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    I have pullets the same age as yours. They're so close to point of lay, it's maddening! [​IMG]But this is coinciding with days that are getting shorter, not longer. I want those new eggs! All the rest of my crew are molting and on strike because of it, and they've quit laying.

    So, I took the drastic measure of rigging up a light on a timer to make the daylight seem longer to their endocrine systems. This endeavor, while providing a "longer day" is not without consequences. Warning: this story is just for entertainment, mostly.

    The light comes on while it's still dark outside, and the chickens in that coop wake up and start their day, which means tossing the younger ones out of the lighted coop into the pitch dark run.

    The first morning, I wasn't aware what was taking place. The second morning, I got out of bed and went outside while it was still pitch dark to check on them to see how they were reacting to the lighted coop. That's when I discovered the three pullets had been evicted by the older hen who also resides there with her three-month old "chick".

    So the last two nights, I've been removing the broody hen and putting her in the main coop to sleep, thinking that would solve the problem. Well, now the pullets are the ones kicking the three-month old out of the coop while it's still pitch dark. Gaah! I give up![​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. bglass

    bglass Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 31, 2015
    Vilonia, Arkansas
    I just got home from work so here's a few snaps this morning. The coop is 12x12 with the boxes sticking out the side. It is 8 ft tall. It's also not completely finished. At the moment it is partitioned off with an enclosed area for our other 16 8 week olds. The floor plan is not ideal at all, and the roosts are definitely an issue.
    They started on layer feed about 2 months ago, another rookie mistake. We had a lot of older chickens and combined them to let the youngest free range also. All through the summer they got most of their nutrition from greenery and bugs, supplemented by feed.
    As for combs, most have shiny pretty combs, my orphs and marans are pink. And I don't have the time to check squatting or vents. The girls are still fairly skittish, and I have to go back to work tonight. And I've never checked a vent so I really don't think I could tell the difference honestly...[​IMG][/IMG][/IMG]
     
  7. bglass

    bglass Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 31, 2015
    Vilonia, Arkansas
    [​IMG]
     
  8. bglass

    bglass Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 31, 2015
    Vilonia, Arkansas
    [​IMG]
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Nice building.

    Yeah, roosts are low...are they at least a foot way from walls?

    ...or nests are high, and look like they'd be hard to move down at this point, unless you used screws to build-then easier, but still.
    Might have to cover nests an hour before roost time, then uncover after dark or early in morning.

    Easiest to examine birds off roost well after dark at night(maybe while your moving them from nest to roosts)...I wear a headlight to keep both hands free.

    You'll get it all worked out....first year is hard, so much to learn.
     
  10. bglass

    bglass Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 31, 2015
    Vilonia, Arkansas
    Thanks for the positive support! When we designed the coop we read that nests should be at least 3ft off the ground. Then when we put the chicken door up that took a wall, windows on the opposite side took a wall, and then our chick/brooder area took an entire side (we hope to raise home grown chicks).
    Don't really know how to incorporate higher roosts. What about putting them on the same wall as the nests but above them?
    We've certainly had our growing pains. Trying to give our flock the best care in our first year-we've lost a lot. But I am bound and determined to make it work and couldn't do so without this site. Y'all are awesome!
     

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