Egg production gone way down!

JacobMaxwell

Songster
6 Years
Feb 1, 2013
319
17
103
Where I live I'm getting about 14 hours of natural daylight but only three eggs a day from my six hens? They are RSL and are about 18 months old. Will production get stronger with the summer? Are my hens past there productive laying days?
 

5 Acre Rooster

Songster
6 Years
Apr 18, 2013
595
31
111
North Missouri
At 18 months they may be slipping into their 1st non lay period. Or moult. Where they lose and regrow feathers. Chickens normally have a period where they stop for a few weeks to a few months. Normal chicken life for laying hens goes this way. For pullets its normal to grow to maturity 0-6 mos lay for 1 year roughly then stop and moult. Or just go into a non productive phase. Could be a couple weeks could be a couple months as no 2 birds are ideantical.
I wouldn't worry if you don't see any health issues. Everything should be ok if you ride it out and continue with day to day norm.
 

tcmstalcup

Songster
9 Years
Feb 4, 2010
416
39
148
Texas
Probably not your problem but..... My egg laying increased dramatically when I locked the gate when no one was home. Hmmmmm
 

Chicks Galore3

Artistic Bird Nut
8 Years
Dec 16, 2011
8,139
183
326
Iowa
Could be egg eating too, I have THAT problem to deal with right now. Yippee. I went down from 10-12 eggs to 4-7. I am hoping to solve the problem soon!
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,121
19,613
857
Southeast Louisiana
There are a lot of different possible reasons you are not getting eggs. It’s impossible to tell from this distance what is going in with yours.

Chickens can molt at any time, either a full molt or a mini-molt. When they molt they pretty much stop laying and use the nutrition that was going into egg production to grow new feathers. The normal cause of a full-blown molt is in the fall when the days are getting shorter, but stress can cause a mini-molt about any time. I seriously doubt that is your problem but I’ll mention it anyway.

Don’t get too hung up on that 14 hour thing. There is a lot of myth and mysticism about that. The 14 hours is irrelevant. It’s the days getting shorter that cause the molt. It’s the days getting longer that helps kick off egg laying. Chickens that live so close to the equator that they never see 14 hours of daylight anytime in their life go through the same cycles with the days getting longer and shorter.

Something else that can cause that is disease. Again I seriously doubt this is it because you are getting the other eggs. If it was caused by a disease I don’t think you’d be getting those or, if you were, they would be misshapen or somehow not right. I’ll mention this mostly to say I really don’t think this is it.

Did yours go through a molt last fall and winter? They should have but often pullets hatched in the spring skip the molt their first winter and lay all through the winter. With yours being 18 months old and hatched in the fall, I’m not sure what happened with them. If they did molt they should be laying beautifully. If they did not molt, well, they need to molt and recharge their system. If hens lay for a really long period of time, egg production can seriously drop. So if your hens laid pretty well throughout the winter and never molted, this is my main guess.

No, they are not past their most productive years. After their first adult molt should be their most productive year with about the same number of eggs per week as the time before the molt but the eggs should be a bit larger.

Next on my list of guesses is that they are hiding a nest from you. They are laying, you just don’t know it. I don’t know what you set-up is like but if this is a possibility it may be time for a treasure hunt. Or maybe lock them all in the coop and run and see if the egg production goes up.

It’s possible something is getting the eggs. There are a whole lot of possibilities here. A lot of things would probably leave some sign behind, like the shell or a soggy mess, but some things will eat the whole egg or take it somewhere else to eat it. To make it harder, your hens may eat the shells if they are left behind to hide the evidence.

It’s possible that one of your hens is opening an egg and eating it. If one opens it, they all might join in eating it. Then joining in is not what I call egg eating. Most chickens will do that. It’s when a hen actually learns to open a good egg to eat it that it’s a problem. I had that happen once. She’d open maybe two eggs a day, no more. Often though there was some evidence left behind, some shell or a soggy mess.

Rats, skunks, possums, things like that will eat eggs, but they usually leave evidence behind. They tend to be more active at night, but rats and skunks will come out during daytime. Raccoons will normally take an egg away to eat it.

It does not sound like a snake. A snake will come out day or night and swallow eggs so they leave no evidence. But a snake is not going to be there every day. They tend to eat an egg or a few then stay away a few days while they digest them. They are usually not as consistent as you describe.

Do you have a family dog that has access to the coop? It’s possible your pet has learned that the egg song is an invitation to a free snack. No evidence would be left behind.

Something else I have to mention if eggs are disappearing without a trace. Is a human getting some?

Again I don’t know your set-up. There are a couple of things you can maybe do. Lock them in the coop or coop and run so you stop certain predators from being able to get in there. If you get more eggs you don’t know if they are hiding a nest or if something is getting them but at least you know they are laying.

You could put a decoy egg out there and see if it disappears. That way you would know if something is getting them.

Hens are living animals. They are not all alike. Some hens just don’t lay that well. If you got yours from a hatchery they should be laying better than you describe. Should be. Maybe you just had some really rotten luck in your specific hens.

I wish you luck with this. These things are not always easy to figure out.
 

JacobMaxwell

Songster
6 Years
Feb 1, 2013
319
17
103
There are a lot of different possible reasons you are not getting eggs. It’s impossible to tell from this distance what is going in with yours.

Chickens can molt at any time, either a full molt or a mini-molt. When they molt they pretty much stop laying and use the nutrition that was going into egg production to grow new feathers. The normal cause of a full-blown molt is in the fall when the days are getting shorter, but stress can cause a mini-molt about any time. I seriously doubt that is your problem but I’ll mention it anyway.

Don’t get too hung up on that 14 hour thing. There is a lot of myth and mysticism about that. The 14 hours is irrelevant. It’s the days getting shorter that cause the molt. It’s the days getting longer that helps kick off egg laying. Chickens that live so close to the equator that they never see 14 hours of daylight anytime in their life go through the same cycles with the days getting longer and shorter.

Something else that can cause that is disease. Again I seriously doubt this is it because you are getting the other eggs. If it was caused by a disease I don’t think you’d be getting those or, if you were, they would be misshapen or somehow not right. I’ll mention this mostly to say I really don’t think this is it.

Did yours go through a molt last fall and winter? They should have but often pullets hatched in the spring skip the molt their first winter and lay all through the winter. With yours being 18 months old and hatched in the fall, I’m not sure what happened with them. If they did molt they should be laying beautifully. If they did not molt, well, they need to molt and recharge their system. If hens lay for a really long period of time, egg production can seriously drop. So if your hens laid pretty well throughout the winter and never molted, this is my main guess.

No, they are not past their most productive years. After their first adult molt should be their most productive year with about the same number of eggs per week as the time before the molt but the eggs should be a bit larger.

Next on my list of guesses is that they are hiding a nest from you. They are laying, you just don’t know it. I don’t know what you set-up is like but if this is a possibility it may be time for a treasure hunt. Or maybe lock them all in the coop and run and see if the egg production goes up.

It’s possible something is getting the eggs. There are a whole lot of possibilities here. A lot of things would probably leave some sign behind, like the shell or a soggy mess, but some things will eat the whole egg or take it somewhere else to eat it. To make it harder, your hens may eat the shells if they are left behind to hide the evidence.

It’s possible that one of your hens is opening an egg and eating it. If one opens it, they all might join in eating it. Then joining in is not what I call egg eating. Most chickens will do that. It’s when a hen actually learns to open a good egg to eat it that it’s a problem. I had that happen once. She’d open maybe two eggs a day, no more. Often though there was some evidence left behind, some shell or a soggy mess.

Rats, skunks, possums, things like that will eat eggs, but they usually leave evidence behind. They tend to be more active at night, but rats and skunks will come out during daytime. Raccoons will normally take an egg away to eat it.

It does not sound like a snake. A snake will come out day or night and swallow eggs so they leave no evidence. But a snake is not going to be there every day. They tend to eat an egg or a few then stay away a few days while they digest them. They are usually not as consistent as you describe.

Do you have a family dog that has access to the coop? It’s possible your pet has learned that the egg song is an invitation to a free snack. No evidence would be left behind.

Something else I have to mention if eggs are disappearing without a trace. Is a human getting some?

Again I don’t know your set-up. There are a couple of things you can maybe do. Lock them in the coop or coop and run so you stop certain predators from being able to get in there. If you get more eggs you don’t know if they are hiding a nest or if something is getting them but at least you know they are laying.

You could put a decoy egg out there and see if it disappears. That way you would know if something is getting them.

Hens are living animals. They are not all alike. Some hens just don’t lay that well. If you got yours from a hatchery they should be laying better than you describe. Should be. Maybe you just had some really rotten luck in your specific hens.

I wish you luck with this. These things are not always easy to figure out.
I think this is the problem. They stay in their chicken tractor all day so they can't hide eggs. They did not have any moult last fall and I got 5-6 eggs each day throughout the winter. Thanks everyone for your help!
 
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