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Advice about hens that suddenly stop laying?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by JadeComputerGal, Jul 31, 2014.

  1. JadeComputerGal

    JadeComputerGal Songster

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    I know there are a lot of threads out there on this site and elsewhere, but I haven't been able to find anything that matches our situation and was hoping to get some advice based on what's going on.

    We have four ducks that are four months old now. A month ago, we bought three Buff hens that are about a year old. Everyone adjusted well and acted as though they had been a family all along. Although their food was changed as soon as they moved in to duck feed from the chicken feed they'd been getting, all three Buffs laid and egg almost every day for the first two weeks. At that point, one of them became very broody, to the point that we have to scoot her out of the house to get her to take a daily swim. She's sitting on a nest of 18 eggs and is in a very bad temper. Once she started sitting on the nest she'd made for the eggs, all three Buffs stopped laying.

    That's the only thing I can think of that coincided with them all stopping the laying. No changes in food, environment, routine. They all seem healthy and active, so I just don't know what to think.

    Many thanks in advance for any advice!
     

  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

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    Hormones are behind so much of what ducks do, I feel that you may be right - that there are just some broody hormones in the air, and that has signaled the ducks to stop laying for a while. It is not all bad for them to rest - I have been told that ducks that lay and lay and lay can have oviduct problems, sometimes very serious ones.

    I would still watch closely, give some lukewarm baths (no soap), in the unlikely case there may be some egg binding, but if they are walking, pooping, drinking, acting normal otherwise it may just be time to rest.
     
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  3. JadeComputerGal

    JadeComputerGal Songster

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    Thank you so very much, Amiga. That makes me feel much better. I wasn't so much worried about the lack of eggs since we don't use them, but about the fact that they suddenly stopped laying them. I couldn't find anything on the Internet about all laying hens ceasing to lay because one goes broody, so I was worried that something I wasn't thinking of could be wrong. It's fine with me if they're all simply taking a break since everything is completely normal other than no eggs since then.

    Just one more question, if you don't mind. When we scoot mama duck out tomorrow, we're going to gather those eggs and candle them since I can't imagine all of them are viable. If they aren't, and we dispose of some or all of them, how should we expect her to react when she comes back to her nest?

    As I said above, she's in an extremely bad temper right now. She used to be friendly, but now she gets upset even when we give her food and water and don't disturb her otherwise. When we very gently scoot her out to go for a swim, she stands at the door of the house and does kind of a screaming quack I'd never heard before, but I can tell it's kind of a distress call. Our other peeps run to see what's wrong, but they lose interest pretty quickly, then go back to digging in the yard. Once we get her out of the house, then out of the pen, we have to close the door to the pen for a bit or she just goes right back in. Sometimes even then she stands at the door to the pen screaming until we shoo her over to the pool. Do you think she'll be traumatized if all, or even some, of the eggs she's sitting on disappear?

    Thanks so much again, and sorry if I'm asking dumb questions. I've never been through any of this before. I'm hoping the time will come when I can answer some questions in this forum rather than asking, but I just don't feel qualified to do that right now.
     
  4. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

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    Not dumb, no, ducks can astound us.

    I just want to repeat it is good to watch the ducks - because sometimes there are other difficulties, like egg binding. LIkely, though, it's hormonal. Please keep us updated.

    About the broody - she sounds like she's in full broody mode, alright. I suspect that as long as there are maybe three eggs in the nest she will be content. That is a guess. It is based on how things have gone here. I will let a broody sit on duds and then check from time to time to make sure we have no explosions.
     
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  5. JadeComputerGal

    JadeComputerGal Songster

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    West Chester, PA, USA
    Amiga,

    I just wanted to say again thank you so very much, and my hubby sends his thanks as well.

    We candled all the eggs today. Huge disappointment in the beginning because all of the first seven were either infertile or, umm, gross. We were looking at one another, and he said what I hadn't wanted to say. "Do you think we even need to check the others?" We decided to check them anyway.

    We put the eighth on and it had an embryo in it. Then the next did, then the next did. We could see movement in many of them, and we ended up with seven eggs with embryos in them. We put those seven back in the nest, and mama duck is sitting on them.

    We are SO excited. We are SO excited at having our own little peeps born here, kind of especially since these are the only purebreds we're ever going to have, but partly because WE'RE GOING TO HAVE SWEET LITTLE PEEPS!!!

    Now I just have to check what we need to do to look after them in this scenario. The ones we have now were raised in the house, so I'll have to check on what to do to help the other ducks look after them instead of scooping them up and bringing them inside.

    THANKS AGAIN!!!
     
  6. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

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    Glad for your joy, thank you for sharing it with us!

    And I think you have also shared a lesson for us all - look at every egg. Make no assumptions.
     
  7. chickster5003

    chickster5003 Songster

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    Keep us updated on the hen
     

  8. JadeComputerGal

    JadeComputerGal Songster

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    Posting this just for an update. Mama duck is still doing well, my others are majorly weird. Most of them are hanging out in the house now. I can't see what they're doing because they run to me when I go outside. Maybe some kind of duck baby shower or something. This is so exciting!

    The other oddness is that they come up to me and want to nibble at me now. They've always followed me, but they usually stay a comfortable two feet away unless I'm giving treats. Now they crowd around my feet and sit there and look at me like they're waiting for some direction or something? My sweet little Khaki girl, who I have to admit is my favorite, crawled up my arm a little while ago. It startled me simply because she's never done it before, but I didn't react to it. She just climbed up my arm and back down.

    Is it possible that the peeps know we have little peeplets coming and they're insecure or something? Like they think they'll go to the back of the line once our babies hatch?

    I really apologize for any dumb questions. I've just never done this before. I'll eventually get educated enough that I'll be able to chip in with some advice rather than always questions.

    Thanks again!!!
     

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