Continually Have Low Egg Production - Very Frustrated!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by TeTe, Nov 22, 2010.

  1. TeTe

    TeTe New Egg

    Oct 12, 2008
    hi Folks:

    Hoping someone can help me. We've had hens for a few years now and have always suffered from low egg production. Here are the particulars:

    - five hens (and a rooster). Two of the hens, Red #1 and a Bard Rock, we got as full grown birds about two years ago. They are OK but not great layers, never have been. Neither has ever laid in the winter. The red is 3 years old and the Bard Rock 2. Bard Rock did OK this summer, for a month she laid every day and then it slowed down again. Red #1 laid every other day for about a month and then quit all together. She has not laid in months. Bard Rock has not laid in about a month but is also just finishing her molt.

    - also have 3 young'uns I raised from chicks this spring, Red #2, an Americauna and a Speckled Sussex. They all began laying on schedule but don't lay that often. Red#2 lays HUGE double yolkers but only one about every 4-5 days. Speckled Sussex lays so infrequently I can't even guess, and her eggs are still on the smallish size. The Americauna is the most consistent in laying but is still only about 3 times a week. Her eggs are smallish too.

    - all the hens are fed the same: a commercial pellet feed, along with table scraps. They have free access to food, water and oyster shell. They free-range most of the time and share a coop at night. I have 3 nesting boxes with pine shavings.

    - when I ordered my chicks I split the order with two other people. Their young hens are all laying like crazy.

    - one problem may be that for about 3 weeks they were on the wrong feed while growing up. The man at the feed store gave me a bag of feed for full-grown hens. So there was a period where they were not getting the high-protein feed. Those three weeks were the three weeks before we would have switched them to the regular adult feed. My thought was that this might be the cause of the problem but then again my older girls have never been great layers either.

    - I don't provide extra winter lighting and am not really looking to. Besides, even in the warmer months egg production is underwhelming.

    Anyway it's really frustrating. I have 5 hens who all look and act healthy, with good appetites, good poops and good spirits. Yet they aren't laying consistently. If anyone could shed some advice I'd be really grateful.


  2. caspernc

    caspernc Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 15, 2010
    Z town NC
    I have put my coop so that the morning sun comes in first summer and winter and the winter sun comes into the coop on the south side. I hope that will keep them lying. OOPS not lying but laying!!!![​IMG].
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2010
  3. RIBill

    RIBill Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2010
    Stress or food. I wouldn't expect much from the older birds. You might try to switch foods or possibly add a little higher protein. Walmart sells some sunflower chips in the birdseed aisle which are good. That said, if you don't give them supplemental light, you shouldn't expect much at all.

    Stress is a likely candidate too. Heat stress will decrease production. Cold will also decrease production. It may also be possible that they are being harrassed by a predator or three.
  4. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I very much doubt the three weeks of feed did anything. The extra calcium is hardest on very young chicks.

    Some of mine aren't much better then yours. I've had 1 egg from my Speckled Sussex this week; in the summer they maybe lay 3 a week each. What you are calling an Americauna (that's what hatcheries often call them) is probably an EE, and I haven't had an egg from any of mine in a week. It's my Buff Orps and Australorps that lay most of my eggs, 4 today, 2 yesterday. In summer I do better than you do most days, I suppose: rarely, I actually get 13 eggs from the 13 of them, more often 9 or 10, and some days 6 or 8.

    One possibility is that your roo is a bit much for them. While some people keep one or two hens with a roo, a better ratio is around one roo to 10 hens. It depends so much on the roo and the hens. Do they run away from him when he wants to mate, of do they just squat down and let him? Do any of them lose feathers to the mating? I have two roos to 13 hens and this seems to satisfy the girls. One of them is much larger and clearly the lead roo, though; #2 only gets to mate when #1 isn't looking, and even then he may get knocked off the hen by #1. I had two more roos til recently and it was obvious that the girls were being overmated (that's why I now have 2.) This may or not be a problem for yours. If they seem peaceful to you, it could even be that if you removed him, this would stress them so that they would lay even less.
  5. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    My Rhode Island Reds have slowed down considerably laying, but my Isa Browns are going strong. Pretty much an egg a day from each one. I average just over 6 eggs per week per each Isa Brown.
  6. chickee

    chickee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Since they free range most of the time, is it possible that they are laying their eggs outside instead of in their nesting boxes? [​IMG]
  7. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    Quote:I was just thinking the same thing.
  8. chickee

    chickee Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm pretty sure egg size is related to protein intake. With my chickens that has been the case. I throw a handful of Black oil Sunflower seeds and old fashioned oats to my birds in the morning and the size of their eggs have improved. [​IMG] Sometimes I get a HUGE egg! This Wyandotte egg had 2 large yokes! The egg next to it is a regular sized Wyandotte egg.
  9. halo

    halo Got The Blues

    Nov 22, 2007
    My Coop
    Thats not an argument for protein, since black oil sunflower seeds are about 15% protein, and oats are about 9% protein. Layer mash usually runs 17%.
  10. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 5, 2010
    Missouri Ozarks
    Quote:Red #1 and the Barred Rock are quite old. Most people who raise hens for high egg production sell/butcher the older generation at 1.5-2.5 years old, and bring in a new batch of pullets to replace them. Old hens don't lay very well, and are rarely cost efficient to keep.

    Speckled Sussex and Ameraucanas are usually not very good laying breeds. Good, but not excellent. I'm not sure what the deal is on Red #2. Within my own flock I've noticed that when a hen goes into a double yolker faze, she'll lay once every two to three days, vs. nearly every day like her sisters.

    My recommendation is to definitely cull the older hens, and consider culling the Sussex, and replace them with some young pullets of high production breeds. Breeds I'd recommend for high brown egg production are: Black Australorp, Rhode Island Red, and any of the popular commercial Sex-Links.

    Also, are you SURE you're finding all the eggs? They don't have a secret stash somewhere, do they? [​IMG] What breeds did your 2 friends that shared the chick order with you get?

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