Do egg layers cycle?- confused about current numbers

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Westcoaster87, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. Westcoaster87

    Westcoaster87 In the Brooder

    We have 14 ISA Browns who, at 1.5 years were laying 12-15 eggs a day between them up until about 4-5 days ago. Very suddenly they have dropped to 4-6 a day. Do egg layers cycle? Should we expect this to pick up again soon? I found a large amount of feathers in the coop today but as far as I know they molted about two weeks ago- is the feather growth related to low lay rates?
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014

  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Making new feathers takes a lot of protein...I'd look at how much protein is in their diet to make sure you are giving them enough. If, for example, you are cutting their layer feed with half scratch, I'd stop the scratch for awhile (they need 16% protein for egglaying). I of course wouldn't advocate giving that much scratch anyhow, as the protein content would fall too much for egglaying to be easy for them.

    You can even do things like offer unmedicated chick starter with oyster shell offered (20% protein) for molting. Or Flock Raiser feed with oyster shell offered.

    Yes molting can take several months and egglaying usually stops during that time, or slows greatly.

    Also, they generally need 14 hours of light per day to lay through the winter. Stopping the light can trigger molt.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
  3. Westcoaster87

    Westcoaster87 In the Brooder

    Our flock gets 16% layer pellets (no scratch), unlimited access to oyster shell, lots of veggie scraps and unlimited access to fresh water. I don't do any artificial lights to extend their laying period.

    It seems that they went into molt at different times. Some of them have beautiful new feathers and others are still struggling to get their tails and some neck feathers back. We're only getting 4-5 eggs a day right now- hopefully this passes soon :-/
  4. wsmith

    wsmith Songster

    Molting can take a while sometimes, alot depends on the chicken and line. Egg laying is certainly affected, and adding additional protein could help to shorten it, by helping with feather growth.
    That all being said, hens need a break to keep them healthy, in my opinion. Also, the egg laying hybrids were developed for the greatest number of eggs in the shortest amount of time. Many (most?) egg producing facilities routinely cull hens by 2 years of age, and may also force molt their hens. That way they minimize "down time" and get the hens back up and laying .

  5. Westcoaster87

    Westcoaster87 In the Brooder

    Oo, I don't want to do anything that could be potentially harmful for them. If a good break is what they need so be it. I also recognize that the ISA Browns only really have one good laying season in them and these birds are now 1.5-2 years old. We picked them up from a local organic laying farm when that farm was done with them. We are now raising up orpingtons and golden-laced wyandottes.
  6. I don't have any scientific evidence but when mine are in molt i treat them with a few handfuls of dry cat food in the mornings. Very high in protein and they love it. Not sure if it makes a difference but they are always ready and waiting for their treat :)
  7. Westcoaster87

    Westcoaster87 In the Brooder

    That's a interesting idea. I've also read people putting milk in the water. Although in that case I'm not sure milk is high enough protein to make a different.

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