Decrease in egg laying. Stress or molt?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by kharmon320, May 19, 2016.

  1. kharmon320

    kharmon320 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've posted in other topics about my broody hen and her new chicks. My original setup included 3 10-11 month old pullets in a 3x3 coop inside of an 11x11 covered, secure run. The broody was moved into a broody box/run inside of the run to sit, hatch, etc. The chicks will be 3 weeks old on Saturday.

    For the past couple of weeks, my Ameraucana has really slacked off in laying. She's been the most aggressive with the broody hen and the chicks. I also noticed last week that I was seeing a bit more feathers from the Ameraucana in the nest boxes. I was questioning if she was trying to go broody, but she is certainly not acting like it. She's just been plain aggressive. Now, I'm definitely noticing her feathers in the run as well. It's not a ton, but is it possible she's going into her first adult molt? Do they slack off at the beginning of a molt? I realize any change in the coop/living arrangements can cause a decrease in laying, but seeing if those more experienced could chime in.

    Also, is it normal for the broody hen to start molting after sitting, hatching, etc?

    My little Olive egger is still putting out almost an egg a day (and I'm not seeing her feathers).
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    It's normal for hens to molt after being broody. It's normal for hens not to get along with a broody. It's normal for hens to lose feathers here and there without it being a molt. Stress can cause an out of season molt.

    You have a pretty small set up. Your birds need more room to move and do chicken things and to get away from each other, especially with a broody stirring things up. Americana aren't high production hens and will stop and start throughout the season.
     
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  3. kharmon320

    kharmon320 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the feedback. Unfortunately, that is all the room I have for them at the moment. I would like to have a portable fence to allow them to free range in the back of the yard, but I will need to wait until the "littles" are bigger.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    You need a bigger coop, 3x3 is tight for even 3 hens.... let alone the (how many?) chicks.
    Yes, you are seeing crowding stress.
    Increasing range/run area is no substitute for adequate coop space.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. kharmon320

    kharmon320 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The coop is always open, so they have access to the run at all times. However, we are planning on starting a larger coop to attach outside the run. It will be at least 5x5 or 5x6.

    I don't plan on keeping all of the chicks, just three pullets for a total of 6 birds. I didn't realize it was considered such a small setup. Thanks for the advice.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Many, many newbies make the mistake of starting off with too small a space.......it's propagated by the coop manufacturers overstating the population of their tiny coops.
    The good news is......these tiny coops can really come on handy down the road as a grow out, broody, isolation, or quarantine coop.
     

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