Chickens and ducks not laying

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by drjulian, Jul 21, 2016.

  1. drjulian

    drjulian Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 23, 2014
    Quack Shack
    I began with 4 hens (NH reds) and 3 ducks (Pekins) who have lived together for 1 1/2 years in a large run with a small pond and a large coop. The ducks are 2 1/2 years old and the chickens are 1 1/2 years old.They have unlimited access to layer pellets and fresh water as well as ranging in the run (50' x 30') and access to a small pond with fish. We are in FL so they have plenty of insects to eat. and currently we have about 14 hours of sunlight daily.The run is complete fenced and covered with orchard netting so at night they are able to run free but they spend the night in the coop by their own choice.

    They are fed layer pellets and have plenty of oyster shell available. I also put a small amount of BOSS in their feed daily.

    For the first year I would get nearly 1 egg a day from the each of the birds, often in the same nest, even though there are 10 nesting boxes in the coop.

    About 10 months ago, the egg laying began to decline and now I can go days without a single egg from anyone. Sometimes weeks will pass with no duck eggs and just a few chicken eggs. (The ducks lay white and the chickens lay brown so I can tell the difference)

    Over the last few months I tried many things to encourage egg laying:

    1. Added starter/grower to the layer feed 50-50 for 2 months - no change.
    2. Gave them fresh vegetable (corn, cabbage, peas, carrots) - no change.
    3. Changed them to flock raiser for a month then back to layer - no change.
    4. Added liquid vitamins to their water and they would stop drinking it and just drink from the pond.
    5. Added rooster booster to the feed - no change

    Nothing works.

    They do not seem to have any illness, the chickens combs are bright red, and the ducks are very active and noisy. I have dusted them all with sevin to ensure no parasites. I have also sprinkled DE under the hay in their nesting boxes. I check the nesting boxes often for rats and snakes and there is no evidence of either (I have even put cameras in the nesting box and recorded several nights to ensure no predators are coming in. There are none. Occasionally one of the ducks or chickens will spend several hours of the day in the nesting box with no real egg, just sitting on the porcelain eggs I have put there. I do not think they are brooding, just hanging around in the shade.

    In March, after months of very limited egg production, I decided to add a few chickens and ducks to the flock to try an increase egg production. Now we have 5 ducks (all pekins) and 7 chickens (6 reds and 1 Orpington). Today one of the new reds laid her first egg.

    My question is what could have stopped them from laying and what can I do to ensure the new additions do not "catch" the not laying syndrome that is prevalent in my flock.

    With 13 birds my wife and I should not have to buy eggs for two people!

    Thank you
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    Your best production is during their first season, the second year production can drop by half in some. There's a reason large egg producers cull all birds at about 18- 24 month. Hens can lay for many more years but often production is lower and sporadic.

    Another problem is you are keeping dual purpose breeds. I once read them described as poor for laying and poor for meat. They can vary by breed, but most aren't the most productive. Keeping egg laying breeds and replacing them every 2 years is the best way to keep up production.

    Sounds like you have tried most things recommended. I personally would switch back to the grower with the higher protein and leave them on it. Extra calcium can be met with a separate bowl of oyster shells. I have a 7 year old hen who quit laying two years ago, I switched to a higher protein all flock last fall and this summer she has started laying eggs again, I'm giving credit to the higher protein.
     
  3. drjulian

    drjulian Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 23, 2014
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    Thank you for your reply.

    Certainly my experience is consistent with your comment on the first season being the most productive. I picked reds because my reading indicated they were among the best layers (I am not interested in the meat).

    May I ask what brand of higher protein all flock feed you are using? The Purina flock grower available has less protein then the Purina layena that I am currently using. Perhaps I should put them all on 100% starter/grower? They always have a separate bowl filled with oyster shell, although it seldom needs refilling. I believe they get sufficient calcium from our soil (sand) which, here in FL, is mostly crushed shell.

    I am willing to try anything at this point.
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Up here in Wisconsin we have a brand called Sprout from Fleet Farm. Their All Flock is 18%, same as their starter grower. I feed the starter to my bantams because it's a crumble, and my standard breeds the all flock because it's a pellet. Being as there is only a 2% difference I didn't expect the results that I got from it. I also cut their scratch down too. My birds molted quickly and resumed laying in December.

    I have read of folks saying they feed a 20% all flock, but we don't have that here. I would certainly give it a try. It took about 2 months before I could really see a difference. Your hens should lay for another couple of years at a decreased rate. They also could be suffering from the heat which can make some stop laying. They should resume when the weather cools.

    Good egg layers are leghorns and various sex links, though there are surprises in every breed. I currently have 4 buff laced polish that have been my best layers for 2 years. Sometimes high production hens can burn out sooner and be done at 2-3 years. Your new Hampshire should lay until 5-6 years and potentially longer, with the Orpington being about the same.
     

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