Chickens not laying as frequently - do they slow down at a certain time of the years?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lissalischicks, Mar 29, 2017.

  1. lissalischicks

    lissalischicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    My chickens are around a year old and the last month I have noticed a massive decrease in egg laying. I thought they usually slow down when daylight gets short but now the days are longer and are laying less and less. I have 5 chickens and they lay about 1 - 2 eggs a day which just a month ago i was getting around 4 (some days 3 some 5 so I averaged it.) I thought maybe they might be laying around the garden but there are no eggs anywhere. My mom swears it because they are so busy relaxing and walking around they might be forgetting to lay. [​IMG]Do chickens have a season where they slow down?? Occasionally I do see a chicken in the box and just sit there and not lay an egg. Doesn't appear broody (at least doesn't have the typical characteristics from what I have read) and that isn't an everyday thing. Any suggestions? The breeds I have are buff orphington, black orphington, rhode island red, barred rock and golden sexlink.....
    Thanks for any input.
  2. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    When hens are as young as yours, they shouldn't be slowing down on production. That usually occurs after the third year. When the slowdown occurs in hens this young, it can be from improper diet. What are you feeding them? Too much scratch grain or table scraps in lieu of a balanced feed can deprive layers of the protein and calcium and minerals they need to build eggs.

    Another reason for a slack off in egg laying is stress. Have there been any changes in their routine or living conditions? Are there any dogs hanging around upsetting them? Noisy construction and strange people coming and going?

    How about behavior? Are any of them acting lethargic, standing around mute and holding their tails down low? Have you checked their poop to see if you see any sign of worms? How about parasites on the chickens or in the coop? That can affect overall health and subsequently, laying.
  3. lissalischicks

    lissalischicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    To answer all your questions:

    I do not think they are under stress. At least yesterday 2 of my chickens were making they sound when they are content. They are not lethargic at all. I pick at their poop from their coop and around the garden at least once a day and have not noticed anything. No parasites that I know of in the coop as well. I actually did a scrub down last week and every a couple weeks ago cleaned their nesting boxes. No more strangers than us and the gardeners but they have seen them since they were chicks. No more dogs than usual,,,, and my girl is actually scared of the chickens so she avoids them at all costs. I give them layer feed but we do give treats. I don't feel like they are more than usual but maybe we should just cut it all out and see what happens. I also cut up parsley to them for more greens. Should I stop that as well?

    Thanks for your time in replying
  4. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    I think that cutting out treats altogether is a good first step. I'd be inclined to de-worm them also (roundworms are the only visible worms that one can see with the naked eye). Other members would not agree with the latter suggestion - it's simply what i would do. If you choose to go that route, then type "de-worming" in the search box for further details. You could, if you wish, get a faecal sample done by a vet before de-worming.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    That's why they are called 'hidden nests'....they'll be found in the last place you look. :D

    Seriously tho, after checking these things:

    Combs and Wattles:
    Plump, shiny red - usually means laying.
    Shriveled, dryish looking and pale - usually means not laying.
    Tho I have found that the combs and wattles can look full and red one minute then pale back out the next due to exertion or excitement, can drive ya nuts when waiting for a pullet to lay!

    Vent Appearance:
    Dry, tight, and smaller - usually not laying.
    Moist, wide, and larger - usually laying.

    Pelvic Points, feel for the 2 bony points(pelvic bones) on either side of vent:
    Less than 2 fingertip widths apart usually means not laying.
    More than 2 fingertip widths apart usually means laying.
    (Spacing is relative with chickens size and humans finger size.)

    I'd coop up the birds to make sure they are not laying out in range area.

    Free range birds sometimes need to be 'trained'(or re-trained) to lay in the coop nests, especially new layers. Leaving them locked in the coop for 3-4 days (or longer) can help 'home' them to lay in the coop nests. Fake eggs/golf balls in the nests can help 'show' them were to lay. They can be confined to coop 24/7 for a few days to a week, or confine them at least until mid to late afternoon. You help them create a new habit and they will usually stick with it. least for a good while, then repeat as necessary.

    Pelvic points mentioned above are labled 'F' here
  6. lissalischicks

    lissalischicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi aart,

    I have checked all those points you brought up and they are all signs of laying. Which I am very happy about.

    I don't know if 2 days make a difference but after laying off treats for about 2 days we got 4 eggs from 5 chickens .... so I will have to see if I was over spoiling them.

    I don't think they are laying outside ..... as we have been planting and moving plants and trees and leaving no section of the yard unturned .... no eggs were found! But you are right when they hide, they can be hard to see.

    Are too much sprouts, lettuce and parsley bad?? I wonder just because they are greens......

    Thanks for your time and replying! It is greatly appreciated.
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Hard to say, lettuce and sprouts can be mainly water.
    Layer feed usually has minimal protein(~16%) needed for laying, so the more other foods you give the more that protein is diluted as well as the vitamins/minerals/amino acids in the ration that are essential for nutrient uptake. General 'rule of thumb' is treats should stay less than 10% of daily ration volume.

    I like to feed a higher protein feed so I can give other foods.

    I like to feed a flock raiser/starter/grower/finisher type feed with 20% protein crumble full time to all ages and genders, as non-layers(chicks, males and molting birds) do not need the extra calcium that is in layer feed and chicks and molters can use the extra protein. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat. I do grind up the crumbles (in the blender) for the chicks for the first week or so.

    The higher protein crumble also offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer. I adjust the amounts of other feeds to get the protein levels desired with varying situations.

    Calcium should be available at all times for the layers, I use oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.

    Animal protein (a freshly trapped mouse, mealworms, a little cheese - beware the salt content, meat scraps) is provided once in while and during molting and/or if I see any feather eating.
  8. lissalischicks

    lissalischicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Wow aart,

    Thanks for all that wonderful information. That was a great insight and definitely something for me to consider. It is something I had never thought of!

    I do believe at this point my treats were causing the chickens to not lay eggs are frequently. Ever since we stopped they are laying 4 eggs a day!!!! So lesson learned, I don't need to spoil my chickens to death.
  9. lissalischicks

    lissalischicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Ok so i'm back with more egg laying questions.
    Since cutting out the treats, 4 of my hens are back to laying consistently. I have one (black orphington) that hasn't laid in about 10 days. She's only 13 months... and has all the visual appearance of still being able to lay ... just no eggs!!! No stress, comb and wattle look good, talks and chirps like normal.... nothing unusual I can see. She does sit in the nesting boxes a few hours a day but no egg. She is also not sitting on any eggs ..... Do some chickens take longer to get back in the groove?

    Thanks in advance to everyone who helps me out!
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Yes indeed.
    I had an old girl do that this spring, everyday in the nests but no eggs, eventually she started laying again.
    Your girl might also be thinking about going broody...time will tell.

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