Egglaying...timer or no?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by happinesshill, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. happinesshill

    happinesshill Out Of The Brooder

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    O.K., so we have 16 gals, all about 6-7 months old. They've only been laying for about a month (except the 4 white leghorns, about 2 months)
    Now that the days are getting a bit shorter, we went from 6-7 eggs per day down to only 1 today. What gives?! We are still getting at least 12-13 hours
    of daylight per day. If hens lay almost every day, shouldn't we be getting more than only 6-7? I think 7 is the most we've ever gotten. It's discouraging.
    I was just wondering if we should do the timer thing and have them lay all winter? I have a friend who does this. We live in the south, no real harsh winters
    here...usually not below the freezing point, at least not for long.

    What do you think is wrong with them? Why so few eggs?
    Thanks for any help, I am new to this.
     
  2. roosters4sale

    roosters4sale Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi. Are they molting. (sheding feathers)
     
  3. Ohhhdear

    Ohhhdear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How many eggs you get can depend on the breed of chicken, if they're moulting, if they have worms or other parasites. Maybe one or more of them is hiding her eggs in a nest someplace?

    I've read if you want your hens to keep laying through the winter you need to give them 14 hours of light. I've got an LED strip fixture hung in the roofpeak of my coop, to go on at 6am and off at 8pm. Takes only 10 watts of power.

    I also remember that the first month or two my 12 girls only laid 5-6 eggs. Gradually the other pullets "came on line" and became more consistent. I have production chickens, though, that may make a difference.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2010
  4. happinesshill

    happinesshill Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi, thanks for answering. No, they aren't moulting. No, they aren't hiding eggs. We have them in a large pen most of the time and they "free-range" (i.e, get to run all over the 5 acres like mad beasts) for several hours every night before bedtime. Hmmm...they are: 4 white leghorns, 6 buff orpingtons, 5 new hampshires, and 1 cherry egger
     
  5. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    I'd do a bug check on them. They are too young to be going through a hard molt, and they are all production birds (except cherry egger; not sure what that is) so they should not be affected by the shortened days, yet. Ergo, it must be something else. Bugs or worms would be my guess.
     
  6. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    They are at the right age for a partial molt which usually slows down the egg laying.
     
  7. happinesshill

    happinesshill Out Of The Brooder

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    How do I check for bugs or worms? They are so beautiful, full feathers, healthy-looking. I have never seen anything wrong with their poo. They are my "girls", super pampered and loved on. Since we are always holding them, we'd notice any parasites or bugs in their feathers.
     
  8. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    Mites are usually active at night, so you may not be aware of them until the load gets so heavy that the birds are in danger. Lice are easy to look for. Just check the birds' skin especially around the vent area. Keep an eye out for white to gray clumps of eggs at the feather bases. The eggs are usually more obvious than the bugs themselves. For mites, use a flashlight after dark and check the skin to see if there are rapidly moving specks of brown to reddish brown on them. Mites are tiny and hard to see. They may just look like dirt particles, but they move. Again, look very well around the vent area.

    Good luck.
    ETA- worms would be visible in the poop if they had a heavy load, but if they appear healthy then it is unlikely to be worms. Fat, glossy and sassy hens don't usually have worms; skinny, lusterless, and pale ones are more likely to have them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2010
  9. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Overrun With Chickens

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    IMHO 12-13 hours of light will not get you top egg production. 14+ will do it. We are below 12 now here in the MidAtlantic. Feed makes a difference also. My sister is feeding 16.8% soy-free feed and has 8 birds that I raised for her that were hatched 4/12. Her 8 are giving her 2-3 per day. My 13 (same age) are on a blend of soy-free & whole seeds that make it about 17.8% protein and I'm getting 6-10 out of 13 pullets. Her feed has crab meal & mine has fish meal. Both of us use lights to maintain 14 hours of light. So many little things can affect production.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2010

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