Help! All my chickens have stopped laying for the last month!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lovechooks, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. lovechooks

    lovechooks Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 25, 2013
    Hello,
    I had 13 five mo old chickens of various breeds who were laying great until Oct 4th, when the neighbor's dog attacked them and killed 4 of them. I moved them into a bigger coop, and bought 3 new hens to replace the dead ones. I expected them to go off the lay while they got over their shock and re-settled down with the new pecking order. But its been 4 weeks now and I only get one egg a day! I know which 2 are laying, but the others aren't laying at all. They get fed food craps, laying pellets in a hopper, free range during nthe day and scratch by handfulls in the evening. They seem happy but no eggs. Oh we also have lights that come on from 6pm-8pm, so they have enough light and we have enough nesting boxes per chickens. I have also followed them to look for secret egg nests but cant find any and no shells, so no hens eating them. Just nothing in the nest boxes but my golf balls! We did see signs of rats and I have set out bait and traps. What should I do? With the new ones I now have 11 hens (two are not old enough to lay yet) and am feeding them but get nothing in return. Any advice? I have tried everything I can think of.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Mine quit recently because they are molting. It's the time of year that many will. Are you seeing a lot more feathers around, or bare spots/new growth, esp. around the head and neck? If they're not molting another possibility is a snake, which is usually why I stop getting eggs, other than molt time. Of course, rats could be eathing them, too, but you'd probably see wet spots.

    A complete guide to the problem:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/423023/why-arent-my-chickens-laying-here-are-your-answers/0_20
     
  3. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    Mine have quit, too. In the spring and summer, we have an 85% rate of lay. Yesterday? 42%. And all my EEs look like porcupines, with all the pin feathers coming in! We were getting 12+ green and blue eggs a day, but none at all this week. My customers are not thrilled with me. Ah, well, they want "natural" eggs, they get natural eggs!

    This too, shall pass. It's just part of having chickens. And do check out the link Flockwatcher posted; it's a good one.
     
  4. PrairieChickens

    PrairieChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A combination of factors may be at work here. In addition to the shock of the move, the days are also getting shorter (If you're in the northern hemisphere), and chickens tend to slow down or stop laying altogether in the winter. Some other things to check for would be parasite infestations. Mites or worms can both put chickens off laying, as can any other illness or ailment that would otherwise affect them physically.
     
  5. lovechooks

    lovechooks Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 25, 2013
    They are only 6 months old so they are not molting yet. 2 of them are only just 5 months old. They were doing terrific until the attack and now nothing. I even locked them inside their barn last night and only one egg this morning (from the Barred rock). They like to roost on their outside roost at night and so I have outside lights on in their enclosed run (with the roosts to extnd the day, although I have calculated if its 15 hours exactly). the barn is attached to the run and all predator proof (raccon and coyote) but not rat proof. I had no problems with rats in my older flock (that I culled this year for the new ones- they were 4 yrs old!) until last winter. Now I have rats digging underneath everynight. woudl the rats scare them? They are getting enough protein (well layer pellets and free ranging after 11am). Yes I live in the Northern hemisphere- Washington State. This is the frist time that my young hens have stopped. normally, they are so young the hormones keep them laying throught the winter. I know that after 1-2yr old they molt and that slows it down but they are too young for that. The only one who have new feathers are those who lost them to the dog ripping out while he tried to "play" with them.
     
  6. PrairieChickens

    PrairieChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is it possible that the chickens that were killed were your strongest layers, or have you already confirmed that some of your surviving hens were already laying prior to the attack?

    I doubt the rats would alarm the chickens, though they can do a number on eggs and very young chicks, so I'd see if there are ways you can put a stop to their visits.
     
  7. lovechooks

    lovechooks Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi Prairie Chicken,
    Yes its very possible that the ones that were killed were all good layers, in fact I know my wyandottes were laying well as I miss getting those lovely dark brown eggs. I lost a white leghorn, RIR and 2 goldn wyandottes. But prior to the attack I was getting 9 eggs a day out of 13 hens. I had one hen injured too who I nursed back to health (buff orp) and she is now back with the others. So, if I add those up that's 7 hens that I have accounted for (4 dead, 1 injured, & 2 now laying). That means at least 2 more should be laying who are not. I know at least 2 of my new ones (replacements) won't lay yet, but I am not sure about the others. I checked their combs and some look plump and red. There are 2 hens that are smaller: a buff and a sex link. I have quite the mixed collection as I love the different colors and such. But I know that some breeds are better layers than others. Normally my buff orpingtons, sex links, RIR, white leghorns and barred rocks lay the most. If I sent a picture of the ones with the small combs, is there anyone who can tell me if they are not ready to lay yet? Or is there a post that already explains it. Thanks for the chat :)
     
  8. lovechooks

    lovechooks Out Of The Brooder

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    New info: OK so I went out today to look around and I let the girls out to test their "sqwatting" posture. Guess what? only 2 of them sqwatt, and one is the one I know is laying! So, maybe some of them aren't ready? but their combs are nice and full, so they should be! (they also dont sing or sqwark to indicate laying either) Also, I had another thought: these girls are only 6 mo old and have never been wormed. while they are not laying, should I give them some Wazine to treat the worms and then I wont be wasting eggs, given they aren't laying anyway? Or, are they too young to de-worm? I have been putting crushed garlic in their water and I even put DE in their food, but maybe they need more strongr meds, incase they do have worms. how can you tell if they have worms anyway?
     
  9. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    DE in the food will do nothing except possibly irritate their sensitive lungs as they breathe it, no matter what the internet says. I had this info from a highly-respected avian vet, and I have watched mealworms and even slugs crawl across dishes of DE in the lab with no ill effects.

    If you want to do it right, take a stool sample to your vet to check for parasites--that's how you know.
     
  10. ChirpyChicks1

    ChirpyChicks1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes. They are being stressed out and that can lead to decreased laying. I've read what feels like a ton of post on this site about rats causing problems with chickens. Beside the stress they will spread diseases and eat eggs.

    This really doesn't matter too much, their combs/wattles will grow larger and redden but that doesn't mean they will start laying at a set time. I have six chickens and every single one of them had a different length of time between "signs of laying" and actually laying an egg.

    I have read so much information over chickens and DE and I have never read this. [​IMG] I personally would believe the information I have read time and time again instead the belief of one person, but that's just my opinion.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2013

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