All stopped laying at once?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by CharlotteJ, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. CharlotteJ

    CharlotteJ Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 11, 2012
    I'm sure if I searched this has been asked before, but I want to describe our situation.

    We have 6 hens and a roo. This is their first winter, and they started laying in the fall when we started lighting their coop. After Christmas, I decided that if they really want a winter break, I'll let them have a winter break, and I gradually started decreasing their lighting. Some days, my husband steps on the cord, and unplugs it altogether, so their lighting isn't the most consistent to start with. They're down to about 13 hours of light right now. I figured that they would slow down egg production, not stop precipitously.

    About 4-5 days ago, I was doing stuff in the house all day, and for whatever reason, didn't get around to getting out to collect eggs. The next morning, I found one on the ground outside of their raised coop door, like it had fallen out (they're rotten about laying in the actual nesting boxes). But there were no eggs inside. Ever since then, I haven't found any eggs.

    If you decrease light, is it normal for them to all stop laying at the same time? Or did I give somebody the opportunity to be a rogue, and very clean, egg eater? I've never seen evidence of broken shells or any of that. I've also looked around for ground nests, and haven't found anything yet.

    Should I just chill and wait for spring?

    Thanks!
    Charlotte
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Yes, decreased light can slow or even stop production in some breeds but I wouldn't call 13 hours short enough to do that especially with young birds like yours. Pullets often lay right through their first winter.
    Inconsistent lighting can have the same effect as a short daylength.
    How many eggs were you getting and what breeds do you have?
    Could there be another animal getting to them?
    Stress will shut them down too.
     
  3. CharlotteJ

    CharlotteJ Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 11, 2012
    We were getting about 4 eggs/day from the 6 hens. There's one Welsummer, two Dominiques, and three Wyandottes.

    So, sounds like something else is probably going on.
     
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Yeah I think those birds would lay through their first winter. Have they been harrassed by a dog or something? Mine all shut down after a dog attack.
    Maybe a possum or snake eating the eggs?
    Where are you located?
     
  5. CharlotteJ

    CharlotteJ Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 11, 2012
    We're in Southern MD. No major incidents lately that I'm aware of. Way back in September a stray smelly beagle got in, but Spike (the roo) pitched a fit and attacked and made all sorts of noise, and nobody was hurt.

    That's why I don't think it's a predator. Spike is a real jerk - he doesn't think twice about comin' after something if they're after the hens or getting too close to the coop. I might miss it once, but this is every day.

    If a chicken becomes an egg-eater, do they typically leave a bit of a mess, or are they usually thorough?

    I'm going to leave my backdoor cracked all day and listen. Usually, when somebody lays, there's a big announcement while she clucks her status, everybody congratulates her, and Spike goes through a bit of distress calling out just for good measure. I don't recall hearing that in the last few days, but I haven't been specifically listening, either.

    If they're not laying for one reason or another, they'll eventually just get over it, if everything is made comfortable again, right? Seems like a predator or an egg eater would be a worse problem?

    Thanks for your troubleshooting help. :D
     
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I doubt if an egg eater could be that neat.
    It may be the inconsistent lighting.
    Provided they don't have parasites and are getting good nutrition, I'm sure they'll start up again soon. Days are getting longer.
    Avoid over feeding treats and scratch.
     

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