1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

HELP!!! --Chickens aren't laying...at all!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sharleeh, Jan 26, 2017.

  1. sharleeh

    sharleeh Hatching

    Jan 26, 2017
    So, we live in the northwestern part of MT and have been experiencing a lot of below zero temps and snow. I have 40 hens, mixed ages, with the majority being 1,2, and 3 yrs old. They are free-range and get a great diet of produce scraps, scratch grain, layer feed and fresh water daily. Also, have access to a pan of grit. We get our feed from the local Hutterites in bulk and they've been getting it for years. I do keep artificial light on them for approx. 12-14 hrs. a day on a timer. They do not get any additional heat sources. The majority of them did molt towards the end of November and that's when egg production greatly slowed down. I don't think they really even left the coop in December due to the feet of snow on the ground, as well as the freezing temps. Since then I have noticed a couple hens still molting. But, since the end of November I have only been getting about 1 egg a day. On a good day I'll get 3 and their record day was 5. I have never had them ALL stop production like this for this long. Does anybody have any suggestions as to why? Or is this normal? I have a lot of egg customers in town that are getting awful antsy for their farm fresh eggs again, lol! Thanks for any and all input!

  2. Peeps61

    Peeps61 Songster

    Apr 19, 2014
    NW Florida
    Hmmm. My thoughts would be that they might need more protein to cover the feathers growing back in. I live in NW Florida and it takes my hens that have molted a good 4 or 5 months from start to finish before they begin to lay again. I'd try upping the light to 14-16 hours a day and increasing their protein and see if that helps.
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    My birds older than a year haven't started laying yet since their molts. I would expect them to in the next month or two.

    If you feed a layer ration you shouldn't give them all that extra stuff as it cuts their protein intake down too far. Layer is 16% protein, which is minimum daily requirement, and is formulated to be fed to a laying hen. It isn't enough protein often to get them through a molt. I would switch your hens to a higher protein ration, a non medicated grower or an All Flock. Calcium need can be met by keeping a separate bowl of oyster shells.

    Since you are in a colder climate, your birds need extra energy to stay warm and to molt as well as to replenish body reserves that were used up during the previous laying season. Egg production requires a lot of energy and will suffer if your birds don't get enough from their feed. The older the hen, the longer it takes for them to resume laying. Birds older than 2-3 years are often thought of as done even though they will still lay but at a decreased rate.

    Extra lighting needs to be done correctly or else it can mess them up and cause odd molting.

    It's best to add chicks in the spring in order to get eggs through the winter as most hens in colder climates stop laying in the fall to molt, than don't resume until after the winter solstice under increasing daylight. When using artificial lighting it need to be slowly increased to simulate that.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by