Ex battery hens not laying


In the Brooder
8 Years
May 18, 2011
Yorkshire, England
Hi everyone. After years of wanting them, we finally have chickens! We adopted 8 ex-battery hens last weekend and they seem to be in generally good health. They're foraging happily, eating and drinking well, and their combs are coming up much brighter. The one problem is that they've gone almost completely off lay.

Here's a breakdown of their laying so far:

Collection day: no eggs as I collected the hens in the afternoon.
Day 1: 6 eggs
Day 2: 4 eggs
Day 3: 3 eggs
Day 4: 3 eggs
Day 5: 2 eggs
Day 6: 2 eggs
Day 7: 1 egg
Day 8 (today): 1 egg so far

Am I right in thinking that they're simply going through an adjustment period, and can be expected to recommence laying? If so, how long do you think that will be? I must own up to being a little disappointed that we're only getting 1 egg from 8 hens, especially considering how much food they're eating. These ladies can trench!
Do they free range? Have you looked for hidden nests? If not, how old are they? There's a reason ex-battery hens are, well, ex. The commercial places get rid of them after they hit peak production and begin slacking on production.
They do free range in half of our garden. I've been able to find all the eggs they've been laying so far. Some are still laying outside but others use the nest boxes well. It's the sudden and dramatic nature of the decline that has me asking questions. I'm fairly confident that I'm doing everything right and they seem to have adjusted well to their new surroundings so I'm rather stumped.
I'd keep them locked in the coop for a week or so.....

Free range birds sometimes need to be 'trained'(or re-trained) to lay in the coop nests, especially new layers. Leaving them locked in the coop for 2-3 days can help 'home' them to lay in the coop nests. They can be confined to coop 24/7 for a few days to a week, or confine them at least until mid to late afternoon. You help them create a new habit and they will usually stick with it.
I don't think I'd feel right doing that. They've just got used to having some nice space for the first time in their lives so it seems cruel to stuff them all away in a box again.

The laying does seem to be on the up again. We're now back up to 2 eggs a day, and have been for the last 3 days.
I would guess that it's a combination of both - settling in and not sure where to lay their eggs. I'd lock them in the coop for a few days until late in the afternoon, then they still get an evening of free ranging, but also learn where to lay their eggs.
The two eggs we've been receiving for the past 3 days have all been left in the nesting boxes. (Well, box - they much prefer the one at the back of the coop and the front one seems only to be used at bedtime by the hen at the bottom of the pecking order as she isn't allowed to roost.) Before that our 1 daily egg was in the nest box so I think we have some clever girls, actually. Those laying do indeed seem to be doing it in the right place.
Just wanted to leave an update for anyone who might have read this. We are now consistently receiving 6 or 7 eggs a day from our 8 girls. I can only come to the conclusion that they were indeed resting and recuperating. :)

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