Advice needed re: egg production after 2nd molt

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Mass Mike, Nov 28, 2014.

  1. Mass Mike

    Mass Mike In the Brooder

    Jun 27, 2012
    Dudley, MA
    First of all, Happy day after Thanksgiving. Hope you are cozy and warm. I could use a bit of advice regarding a dramatic drop in egg production and anything I can do to jump start it again. This is my first flock.

    Situation: We live in chilly New England with a 2 1/2 y/o old mixed laying flock of RIRs and Freedom Rangers. They all just went through their second molt and their egg production has dropped to zero. literally. not one egg in weeks. I have a 100w lamp in the coop to add some light. We've kept up with their normal feed diet/ oyster shells/ tons of kitchen scraps/treats. We upped their protein to help them through the molt. Still nothing.

    Is this inevitable or is there anything additional I can do to restart egg production. If I can't get them laying in the next 2 weeks, they'll have to go into the stew pot for stock. I'm thinking that's where this is headed but I wanted to check here first.

    Any ideas or thoughts is greatly appreciated.

    Be blessed. Thanks for the help. And...since Thanksgiving is behind us, I can say.....
    Merry Christmas!
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    RIRs will lay for years. It's just that they, like most other breeds will take longer winter breaks after their molt. Possibly they may not lay again till after the winter solstice, but I'll bet that, provided nothing else is wrong, they'll lay like gangbusters once days get longer.

    A couple things to do. Any time you have an issue, it's best to go back to the basics.
    If their normal feed is a layer ration, stop that and switch to a grower feed till laying resumes. Since you're getting no eggs, 4% dietary calcium is too high and kidney damage can result.
    It's ok to continue the kitchen scraps to make use of them as long as you have enough hens that the scraps don't supplant a significant portion of their chicken feed. Cut out any other treats or scratch.
    Chicken feed provides all the nutrients needed for maintenance and production. Anything additional can really disrupt optimal nutrition.
    If it were me, I would feed nothing but a 16-18% protein grower feed. That will eliminate nutrition deficiencies as a possible cause.

    The temperature is going to have little impact unless it gets well below zero. Day length is the main factor.
    100 watt lamp may be overkill depending on your coop. A light at roost height bright enough to barely read a newspaper by is sufficient. CFL or LED will lower your energy cost. If temps drop precipitously it may be necessary to temporarily switch to incandescent.
    11 hours of light is sufficient for maintenance but to kick start them, gradually increase day length by having it turn on earlier in the morning till you're at about 14 hours and any that have completely recovered from molt should start up again.

    You have to choose but I hate seeing hens that young go to the stew pot when, even without adding light, they'll be egg laying machines in another 3 months.

    A friend complained all winter last year about her beloved hens of about 3 years not laying. By February, she was fed up and gave them away. I begged her to give it another month. (after all, she had fed them through the fall and winter). Within a week of giving them away they all started laying.
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  3. Mass Mike

    Mass Mike In the Brooder

    Jun 27, 2012
    Dudley, MA
    thank you so much....lots of great info here. I appreciate this!
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    The light may take some time to have an effect, here is my experience:

    Sometimes first year layers will lay all winter without supplemental lighting, sometimes they won't.
    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 a 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.

    There could be other stressors involved also...even my pullets stopped laying since the snow cover confined them more than before...and a couple of older layers have started back up after molt, so some nest possession issues could be in play too.

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