FRUSTRATED!!!! Not laying and/or laying soft shells

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by The Hen, Sep 30, 2012.

  1. The Hen

    The Hen Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have 4 chickens miss rusty quit laying about a month or so ago, belle has been laying soft shelled or none at all, miss rustie i think is still laying by the size of the eggs, but still not positive that they may be belle's and tallula is still laying, but not every day. I bought this HUGE bag of oyster shell (not knowing exactly what it was) that will last me until i am 100. To my knowledge, the chickens have nothing to do with it. They pick up the chunks and spit them right back out (it looks like rock salt). i have put some on the ground and in their food (which they then won't eat) and also have a container in their coop. I have also tried crushing it, what a pain the in butt. It's way too hard. I give them the old egg shells by crushing and baking them (they seem to LOVE these). They do have 3 different kinds of food because they quit eating the one from the mill so i bought another which they wouldn't eat so of course feeling bad i bought another. The one from our local mill they are now eating again. the layena crumbles i mix with water and night before they turn in and they love it that way and the pellets (they don't like) i sprinkle in their run (sometimes they will pick at it). plus they get scraps however, they are very picky (they don't like warm oatmeal, sweet pots, carrot shavings, yogurt, ham, or barley). With all the different food i can't believe they are not getting enough calcium or protein. Oh yeah, i will let them free range often and when i started w/ that i found it does cause them to lay soft eggs (which i don't understand when several ppl let theirs free range and to my knowledge have no problems), but i would think with all the food they get and the egg shells it would be no problem. Should i maybe keep them locked in their coop for a few days to a week and see if that works? I also have not put a light in their coop yet however, all this started before our shorter days did. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  2. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    Are all the feeds you offer layer rations? Many of the foods you listed are calcium deficient and not high in protein. They should be getting 85% of their daily calories from a layer ration, and only 15% from other foods.

    Your birds will likely get much less picky if you stop feeding then so many different things and stick to one layer feed offered free choice, dry, in either pellet or crumble form (I have yet to see a chicken starve themselves when offered only pellets).
     
  3. Cool Peeps

    Cool Peeps Out Of The Brooder

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    and to maybe fix those soft shells give them oyster shells feed
     
  4. blondiebee181

    blondiebee181 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, firstly how old are your birds? 16-28 weeks is normal for hens to start laying and when they first start it is also perfectly normal to get wierd eggs (aka shelless, yolkless, soft-shelled, deformed, double-yolk) It takes time for the girls to get in the swing of laying good hard eggs. I know your frustration, I have a good friend on here who was so worried about hers too with the same issues.
    Secondly, have your girls ever been ill? Had any recent mite infestations or coccidia? It will take time to recover from those instances and laying to recover as well.
    Thirdly, sometimes it takes chickens time to warm up to different foods. If you don't notice them eating it right away and get frustrated, don't. Chickens are aften leery or picky about new things but a hungry chicken WILL eat. Also, if you are overfeeding them they will tend to be more picky. They will scratch away the pieces they don't deem the best and eat their favorites, wasting a lot of food on the ground. Get them into a schedule, now that they are older they don't need to have full-to-the-brim feeders. Feed corn and scratch sparingly and kitchen scraps are always good. Sometimes when I feed scraps the girls won't touch them at first but if they are in the run and they get bored, they always clean it up. Don't get me wrong, chickens do have favorite treats and things they won't eat as well and it is good to narrow these down. Free ranging is perfectly fine. If you find them beginning to not eat as much of their feed this is OK, it means they are eating more grass and bugs and don't have as much need for their feed (saving you $$) In my experience free-ranging is not a cause of weird eggs. It should improve the nutrient content and well-being of your hens, however I can see that if they aren't used to free-ranging or if you suddenly switch diets on them that may affect their laying. Try to be consistent, everything should work out. Good luck.
     
  5. blondiebee181

    blondiebee181 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    X2.
     
  6. The Hen

    The Hen Chillin' With My Peeps

    thanks for ur responses.
    1. the bags of food say they r for layers. i will ck the rations.
    2. i have 3 containers with oyster, feed and another feed, and of course water.
    3. at 630 pm i take some of the layena and miix with warm water, they love it.
    4. got the chickens from a friend thinking they r at least a year old.
    5. no mites or illnesses that o know of. however, i did see belle picking at miss edwards back end yesterday...so hoping not mites or bugs.
    7. the food from the mill does have ground corn in it, but most most ppl around here use it. we r a very small country town.
    8.didnt get a single egg today. they free ranged all wkend plus today.
    9. cant think of anything else. hmmm....definitely stumped.
    hoping they get back on track soon.
     
  7. blondiebee181

    blondiebee181 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, how long ago did you aquire the birds? When you move grown chickens from one place to the other it can stress them out and may be responsible for their picky eating and laying. If the person who owned them before fed something different that may cause some picky-ness but they should be fine it sounds like your feeds are good. When chickens are moved from one home to another they will often stress-moult part of their feathers which will affect their laying. If you have noticed some strange feather-loss that is why. Also, it is important to check your birds over every now and then for parasites anyway...I would go ahead and check them over just in case.
     
  8. The Hen

    The Hen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Wow, thank you for the info chillin w/ my peeps. I have had the the ladies now for guessing a month and a half. they have been losing feathers since shortly after i got them which i thought they were molting, but maybe they are still stressed. Miss edward is losing feathers like crazy now, which i do think she is molting ...Yes??

    dumb question, but how do i check them for parasites when it is so hard to catch and hold them. also, when checking for parasites am i lifting up feathers and looking underneath and checking the rearend area?

    the food i buy at the mill is the same food my friend was feeding them. after i got them the very next day all four were laying everyday then like i said in my first post i started letting them free range and it all went down hill from there (maybe just coincidental). that was partly why i bought a different food thinking that with free ranging the food from the mill wasn't enough for them because it does have cracked corn in it, the mill makes it themselves.

    they also have a spot in my wild flower garden that i let them take over to dirt bathe. they love it in there.

    when exactly should they start molting in full?
     
  9. soler

    soler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    that sounds like they are molting - they stop laying during molting.

    this would be a good time to worm them too, so you don't have to worry about egg withdrawal, if your friend hadn't wormed them in a while (depending on how much they free range, you should do it from once to 4 times a year). Look into safeguard, that is well tolerated and attacks a bunch of different worms.

    re skin parasites, You can go and check on them in the evening, when they are roosting, use a flashlight and check the skin at the base of the feathers.

    Adding DE to the coop and their dust bath areas helps control skin parasites. Will not however eradicate them if they have them.

    Also, i would offer them some good quality, wet cat food right now. The extra protein really helps them during molting.
     
  10. blondiebee181

    blondiebee181 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    X2 They are moulting whether it is their normal moult or stress related or both, that is what it is.

    If you do catch and hold them, turn them on their backs, this hypnotizes them because all the blood rushes to their heads and then, yes you want to check the skin at the base of feathers.

    Soler has good suggestions. Good luck!
     

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