Chickens stopped laying and won't restart

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Chickenonahill, Dec 8, 2013.

  1. Chickenonahill

    Chickenonahill New Egg

    Nov 22, 2012
    I have had chicken for years and know that they slack off laying in winter. I recently had to leave them for two weeks due to a death in the family. My sister in law was coming over to feed and water them for me. It turned out that she only came over 4 times in two weeks. Before I had to go away we were getting 2 dozen eggs a day from 35 birds (24 are this years birds and were only just starting to lay. Now I am getting 1 per day! I started feeding and watering them each day again immediately upon returning, cleaned the coop and boxes, changed the light setting to give them 16 hours worth (it had been set at 14) and put a heat lamp into the coop to keep it a few degrees warmer than outside. What else can I do? It has been two weeks since I started the routine again with no change. Thanks for any help you can give.
  2. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

    Feb 18, 2011
    Do they seem to be going into a molt? Unfortunately, stress can throw hens into a molt, and especially at this time of year when they would often do so anyhow. What type of food do you have them on?
  3. vpaints

    vpaints Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 23, 2012
    I am having the same problem we left for opening day of deer season and no eggs since I have 5 hens(I have downsized significantly since last year) but they are young hens about a year old this month and 1 is 3 years old the young ones should have started laying in but not really doing much of anything I was getting 4 to 5 day before ????
  4. Kazfam

    Kazfam Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 15, 2013
    Oh gosh - they re most likely malnourished with all of their energy going to stave off starvation.

    From my limited time caring for chickens (and comparing ours to those from the same group that are not being fed as well) - proper nutrition seems key to good, consistent egg laying. Depending where you are located (north, south, very cold, or still mild) - they should begin producing again if you get their calorie intake back up. Poor girls...

    We are in South Carolina and still getting good production even though it's December and the daylight time is shorter.

    Let us know how they do.
  5. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 8, 2008
    Fleetwood, PA
    You mention that your SIL only came over 4 times in 2 weeks. You don't say whether they might have had enough food and water anyway, or whether she only fed a small amount to last a day etc. I know I could go away for at least 3 days and my 2 gallon waterer would be enough & I could get at least a week out of my 30 lb feeder. Do you think they were out of food & water for any length of time?
  6. Chickenonahill

    Chickenonahill New Egg

    Nov 22, 2012
    My SIL fed them some on the ground and then filled a 5 gal. feeder. but the watering she did not do enough, I know that, As for the feed, the feed they are getting is a local, natural, 16% feed made of various grains. It is comparable to any of the feeds from TSC or Agway but with less binders and junk. My aunt (who lives around the corner) feeds hers the same and her chickens are laying like gang busters, I have moved to feeding them twice a day to get them back up where they should be. They don't leave any feed on the ground (and never have), so I can't use that as an indicator of their being hungry. As for molting, the older ones have been molting and should be done soon, they younger ones in my experience don;t molt the first year.
  7. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

    Feb 18, 2011
    Besides what you are doing with the lighting etc, the only thing I could think of is to up their protein % a little if they do decide to go into a mini molt. Problem is stress can cause a molt even in young birds and being hungry, thirsty etc are all stresses to laying hens. Hope not, but your SIL may inadvertently have put them into a forced molt.

    Popular article ...
    Stress factors and moulting
    Natural moults can occur any time of the year due to birds being subjected to stress. A bird is stressed when the environment or management present a challenge to which the bird cannot respond without suffering a harmful effect. A hen subjected to a mild stress condition in late spring when in full production will suffer a drop in egg production whereas the same stress condition applied to a bird in the autumn will cause her to cease laying and moult.

    The following are common stress factors which can induce moulting:

    decreasing daylight
    decreasing artificial light
    Loss of bodyweight
    Internal parasites
    excessive cold
    heat waves
    Feed, feeding and feedstuffs
    deficiencies of essential ingredients
    irregular feeding
    insufficient feed
    Predators eg. cats and dogs
    Fright - wild birds and children
    Peck order - low vitality
    Prolonged broodiness
    Mismanagement: overcrowding, movement to another house, water deprivation, insufficient feed and water space, faulty ventilation, wet litter, debeaking, vaccinations, exposed housing, etc.

    Force moulting

    Force moulting is a practice adopted by some commercial egg producers to bring about a rapid moult so that all the birds come back into lay for a second time at a certain time of the year, usually in autumn. It is achieved by subjecting a flock to a programmed combination of mild environmental stress factors causing the birds to cease laying and consequently moult e.g. decreasing the artificial lighting programme. Force moulting is a practice not normally applicable to the household situation. Natural moulting is slower and more erratic than force moulting.
  8. blueseal

    blueseal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 3, 2008
    try having feed available at all times that way they are getting enough feed and they will lay better

    I have 2 hanging feeders in my coop for 20 hens I make sure the feeders have feed in them at all times.

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