Drastic reduction in egg laying

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by DaveMorey, Aug 3, 2013.

  1. DaveMorey

    DaveMorey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I apologize in advance if this question has been asked and answered somewhere else already. I searched through forums and couldn't find anything. So here goes...
    I currently have 39 chickens of which 31 are pullets. I bought 20 of them (pullets) in mid march and 20 straight run at the beginning of April. My older pullets started laying eggs in mid July. I went on vacation and my sister house sat for me to tend the chickens. Egg laying peaked at 18 eggs a day while I was gone. Since I have come back from vacation though the egg production has dropped off to about 4 eggs or so a day. Nothing has changed for the chickens otherwise. Feed and housing have stayed the same. If anything the chickens have greater access to variety now since I have time to give them grass clippings and other left over fruits and vegetables from the table. I am at a loss as to why there would he such a big drop in production. Any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Stress can trigger a drop in production. So will a sudden change in weather. And the fact their pullets can have an effect. Make sure you continue giving them same feed, water eft and all should iron itself out.

    Wish ya the best.
     
  3. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Did they run out of water while you were gone? If they did, that will affect egg production.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Are they hiding nests on you? That’s a huge drop in production and them hiding nests usually doesn’t come close to that kind of drop, but maybe the cause is more than one thing. Maybe this is a part. Hidden nests is one of the biggest causes of a drop in egg production.

    Are a bunch of them molting? Stress can sometimes cause a molt. They quit laying while molting. Are you seeing a lot of extra feathers flying around?

    I’ll ask a silly question. Are some of them broody? They quit laying when they go broody.

    I’ll mention this because it’s possible but if they are acting healthy it’s probably not the cause. I hesitate to even mention it because some people panic when they don’t need to, but are they acting healthy? Some diseases can cause a drop in egg production. Also do they have a problem with mites, lice, or worms? Parasites can cause a big drop in production.

    They can slow down a lot with extreme temperatures, either really hot or really cold. Again that sounds like a pretty drastic drop for this, but it could contribute. This goes with what Happy Chooks said, stress can cause them to stop or greatly reduce laying. Running out of water, a change in housing, adding or taking away chickens so you mess up the pecking order can all cause a temporary reduction in egg laying. Changing a lighting regimen if you provide artificial lights can also cause this. Any change in their life can cause stress.

    Is something getting the eggs? If it is chickens, rats, skunks, or possums eating them, you should see egg shells or a soggy mess in the nests. Raccoons will often carry the eggs a short distance away to eat them so you can often find a pile of egg shells there, maybe on top of the coop? Canines like dogs, foxes, or coyotes will normally take eggs without a trace. Snakes also.

    One question though is how regular is the drop? Most wild animals don’t normally take a regular number of eggs each day. A snake especially will take maybe 2 to 6 eggs and go away for two or three days to digest the eggs before they come back for more. Other things will often visit at a specific time and take what is there but any laid later are left.

    Do you have a dog that has access to the coop? Has your poopy learned the egg song is an invitation to a snack?

    This can be upsetting, but is a human taking them?

    I don’t know what your facilities look like or how you manage them, but can you lock them up for a day or two? If there is a dramatic increase in egg production, at least you would know that they are laying. You still wouldn’t know if they are hiding a nest or you just locked out an egg predator.

    There are a lot of things that could possibly cause this, maybe even a combination. These things are not always easy to figure out. Good luck!

    Never be afraid to ask a question. This forum would die if people only asked questions that have never been asked before. Besides, questions that have been asked before are often easier to answer.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2013
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  5. Because your pullets just started laying you can count on inconsistencies also. But your drop off will take a little investigation as to why it is so drastic.
     
  6. DaveMorey

    DaveMorey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    OK, to answer the questions. The water doesn't seem to be much of an issue. I just bought another 5 gallon water can because my other one was leaking. However it was leaking before and we just kept refilling it. The weather was really hot when we left but has come back to more normal temps.
    They don't seem to be molting as I have not seen an increase in feathers. I have them in a fenced enclosure since I live in a village so I don't think they are hiding eggs although I could look under the coop. They seem healthy and content. I had a few escapees while I was gone which my sister had to round up in the evening. I asked the question because I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something I should notice. I will explore the possibilities mentioned. I thank you all for your input and ideas also.
     
  7. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    If the area under the coop is big enough for them to fit under, it's big enough for them to lay eggs under as well. What about people, could someone gain access and take eggs?
     
  8. LeslieDJoyce

    LeslieDJoyce Overrun With Chickens

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    Some treats can cause a drop in egg production.
     
  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Can you provide some supporting documentation for this? That's pretty vague.
     
  10. LeslieDJoyce

    LeslieDJoyce Overrun With Chickens

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    No, not right now. But it is worthwhile research for anyone who likes to give treats to their chickens. I have found that googling chicken questions usually links back to BYC. Pretty cool.
     

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