dramatic drop in egg production

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by artoff02, Sep 6, 2014.

  1. artoff02

    artoff02 New Egg

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    Sep 6, 2014
    We currently have 9 chickens, ages ranging from about 4 mos - 3 years. On average, we were getting around 4-5 eggs a day. Suddenly, we're down to 1 egg a day! I We're wondering since some of the chickens are getting on the older side perhaps they're just not laying anymore. And I have no idea how to tell who's laying & who isn't! But before I jump to that conclusion, there might be a few factors affecting things so I wanted to get some advice :)

    1) we recently added the 2 younger hens to the flock, and it was right about that time that the egg production went down

    2) I accidentally bought the wrong feed last time. It is feed that we've used before (hen scratch) but they don't seem to do as well on it

    3) I've noticed a ton of feathers in the coop; none of the hens look like they're really molting, but there is quite the pile of loose feathers
     
  2. hennible

    hennible Overrun With Chickens

    Maybe there just starting to moult. Scratch is high in calories but little else, use it as a treat and get some layer ration they need the vitamins, etc. and maybe new birds have caused some stress. Your older girls are likely still laying but probably not daily any more. When they have stop laying completely you would probably see that there legs have gotten darker (what ever colour the bird, but easiest to see in yellow legs) You could also look at their vents to get an idea of who is still laying. Dry, pale " small or puckered " vents are on vacation. Moist, pinkish, larger vents are still producing. You could probably find pictures of vents that would be helpful than my description. Production levels dropped in a friends flock when a weasel was staking out the coop... So stress. Any way blah blah hope this helps.
     
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  3. chikkenfriend

    chikkenfriend Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It does sound like a molt. Our older hens, Barred Rocks, did slow down a bit. If they are older it could just be that.

    The other thing to watch for is predators. We had something (skunk or raccoon, not sure which) that had been coming around at night and we didn't realize it for a few nights. Our chickens practically quit laying. We got about 1/5 production for a couple of weeks. Finally, on a rainy night, we found the paw prints all over the coops.

    Spent the night outside with my shotgun and problem solved. Got one raccoon and ran off two armadillos. Egg production got back on track after that. We still get a skunk now and then but they don't seem to hang around like they used too.

    Introducing new birds could also be affecting things. Who is alpha? If the new birds are upsetting your alpha it could mean some unsettled birds for a while. If this is it, once pecking order is established, things will get back to normal.

    Good luck. I hope you get everybody settled and everybody gets back to happy laying!

    Edit: I haate typoos.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
  4. chikkenfriend

    chikkenfriend Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What hennible said. Especially about the feed. :goodpost:
     
  5. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    It's normal this time of year with the hours of daylight decreasing. I've had a drastic reduction as well. Adding birds will disrupt laying for a time, but they are also starting their molts. (thus the feathers around) Birds that are molting cannot lay eggs, as they need all of their protein for growing in new feathers. Increasing their protein level with meat scraps, mealworms, high protein feed like game bird feed, etc, will help them get through their molts quicker. They will not resume laying until their feathers have been replaced and they have their body weight back up to a safe level.

    Scratch is candy to a chicken. It can be given in small quantities as a treat, but should not be their main food source.
     
  6. hennible

    hennible Overrun With Chickens

    Great tip about higher protein to help birds in molt. I'm going to do that, if I can't get game feed is chick starter ok? Sorry to pirate the thread with my question... :)
     
  7. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    I use the Game bird starter. It's not medicated.
     
  8. hennible

    hennible Overrun With Chickens

    So is un-medicated chick feed is that acceptable?
     
  9. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    I have not seen medicated game bird feed. I buy Purina Game Bird Starter and it's 30% protein. The medication in chick starter is amprolium, which is a thiamine blocker - unless you have certain drug allergies (I believe sulfa drugs, but not positive), there is no need for concern.
     
  10. hennible

    hennible Overrun With Chickens

    Thank you.
     

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