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Almost 3 year old hen no longer laying...and sleeping in nesting box

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chicken toes, Feb 17, 2017.

  1. chicken toes

    chicken toes Just Hatched

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    Feb 17, 2017
    N TX
    Hi. I have 2 almost 3 year old barred rock hens. One stopped laying about a year ago. She doesn't have anything wrong physically as far as I can tell. I have done the internal check on her a couple of times over the last year just to make sure she did not have some sort of blockage. She eats fine, poops fine, runs around the yard, gets all nosy in my business when I am outside and seems fine. The other hen lays just fine.

    Now, the non-layer has started sleeping in the nesting box. There is plenty of roosting space so no reason to hunker down in the nest. I check on them every night and there she sits with the other one perched on the edge of the nesting box. They don't fight. Never have. No pecking, no lost feathers other than molting.

    I know sometimes hens quit laying for no apparent reason. Is there something I should try to get her motivated? Added protein in her food? Some sort of massage?

    Thanks!
    Robin

    ETA: The non-layer's comb is really small, always has been. Both comb and wattles are a bit dull, not the bright red like they used to be. Is this a sign of something wrong?

    Also, because she has been sitting in the nest to sleep, her rump gets a bit pasty. I clean it, but the last time I had to trim the feathers some because the poop would not loosen up no matter how moistened.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
  2. HappyClucker7

    HappyClucker7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My barred rock Marble has also started sleeping in the nest box sometimes. I just push her back inside and then she usually goes on the roost. If this doesn't work, you could lift her on to the roost. My chicken hasn't stopped laying though. I don't know why that is. You could try givng hr more calcium. You could also put her by the nestbox when there are eggs in there. That might morivate her to lay too. Hope this helps!
     
  3. chicken toes

    chicken toes Just Hatched

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    Feb 17, 2017
    N TX
    Thanks for the suggestions.

    I have two wooden crates for nesting boxes, not the little built in alcoves...yet. My hubby keeps promising to finish that part of the coop. With just two hens I never really felt it was worth all the extra construction!

    I think I will remove the extra nesting box permanently and take the other out at night. Maybe that along with placing her on the roost bar, which is the 2 x 4 with the wide side facing up, will help retrain her.

    As for the egg laying...who knows. I offer the calcium chips, but they never touch them. They both eat the Purina Layena crumbles and forage around in the yard. They get occasional bits of bread, sunflower seeds, bird seed and veg scraps. But mostly, they eat their food.

    Thanks again,
    Robin
     
  4. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    How high is the roost? Do they have a ramp? Do they free range? Is she hiding a nest? Do you provide extra light?

    What are you feeding, including treats? If she isn't laying you should not be using layer as too much calcium long term can (doesn't mean will) cause kidney failure. Studies showing anything more than 3% and layer is usually 4%.

    For my mixed age and gender flock I use a flock raiser which has 20% protein and 1% calcium and oyster shell on the side. Personally and the studies I've seen say heavier breeds DO need more protein than the typical light bodies, high production layers.

    However, I have raised rocks on layer previously and never noticed a protein deficiency. But even then, I would not give it to non layers. I will go ahead and provide links... Notice at the very bottom of the page it says layer is too much calcium for non layers....

    http://ucanr.edu/sites/poultry/files/186894.pdf

    Assuming she can safely get to roost and isn't in arthritic pain... I would block those boxes off before that time of day. They poop a bunch at night and it will fill the box and leave your eggs a mess. [​IMG]

    Sometimes they will not go to roost if there are mites.... they live in the cracks under roost and come out to feed on the chickens at night. You can check this by going out well after dark, like a few hours and use a white paper towel to rub under the roost. You are now looking for red smears.

    Have you ever wormed? You can take a fecal sample to the vet. It is around $15 and have them check so you don't treat for no reason. This is my #2 suggestion after decreasing calcium in the feed and providing it on the side. It is also OK to use a non medicated starter instead of flock raiser or all flock.

    So did you see them molt?

    I am no expert. And none of these may solve your issue. It's possible she won't lay again. Maybe genetics. Hard to say. But these should help give you a good place to start.

    If I had room, I would add 2 more layers so I could have eggs. That may cause a short stress on her which could make her withhold eggs a little longer if she actually was going to start again. But if she already isn't giving them up, what have you got to loose?

    Good luck! [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. HappyClucker7

    HappyClucker7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You could try oister grit. That gives them lots of calcium and my chickens seem to like them. I will get beck to you on the brand but I got it in tractor supply. My chickens usually don't touch it right away but then they start eatng it when they need it. You schould just leave it in a little bowl for them. They'll eat it.
     
  6. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    The birds don't care what kind of nest box it is as long as they are comfy...

    My birds also never touched my OS when I fed layer... because there is already enough in there for most layers needs.

    I also use 2 x 4's wide side up.

    Just make sure your treats aren't more than 5-10% of their daily ration... I think that's like 1 tablespoon or teaspoon, can't remember which. [​IMG]
     
  7. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    I don't provide grit because my birds have access to the ground to get their pebbles from.

    Calcium will NOT stop the bird from laying, as far as I know, and you have plenty. Lack of calcium would likely cause soft shells. Though soft shells are usually a sign of the reproductive system starting up or shutting down. And at least initially, the hens body will use up what calcium she has to produce eggs. Which yes would likely stop them from laying as OTHER health issues arose.

    I do not in any way shape or form believe calcium is your issue!

    Sorry for being pushy! [​IMG]
     
  8. chicken toes

    chicken toes Just Hatched

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    Feb 17, 2017
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    Thanks for the suggestions and the information sheet.

    Very helpful.
     
  9. chicken toes

    chicken toes Just Hatched

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    Feb 17, 2017
    N TX
    I know it's been a long time since I asked my question, but I wanted to give an update.

    My non-laying hen produced 2 eggs last week, two days in a row. And now nothing for 2 days. The eggs look like torpedoes! She always gave us elongated eggs, but these are really funny looking. Her comb has brightened also. It was a dull, almost dry looking red before.

    Funny business, these chickens.

    Robin
     
  10. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Funny, how some peoples' version of a long time is different. [​IMG]
    So you made changes and are seeing improvement in about 6 weeks! That is awesome sauce. [​IMG]

    I heard from someone local that said their 6 year old Australorp lays an egg every other day still! Chickens are indeed funny business. [​IMG]

    Thanks for the update. [​IMG]
     

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