Help! My Chickens have not laid eggs in several Months~

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by beaches4me, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Should really keep OS in a separate container....
    ....calcium in layer feed should be enough for most birds.
    ChickenCanoe likes this.
  2. path.otto

    path.otto Songster

    Jul 10, 2017
    Mason City, IA
    My chickens started laying in the fall of their first year and continued throughout the winter even though some went through a heavier molt than I anticipated.

    This year, most all went through a very heavy molt in the late fall/early winter and stopped laying at that point. We started getting an egg or two a day (I only have 7 hens) during the polar vortex, (great timing, girls :lol:). I realized something yesterday that I hadn't noticed before. When the girls stopped laying, they also stopped squatting when I reached down to pet them or pick them up; they tried to run away instead. Last week I noticed they were squatting again when I tried to pick them up. I interpret this as a signal to the rooster (if I had a rooster) that they are back in business again.

    Which begs another question. When hens stop laying do roosters become less interested in mating?
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    and yep...a good cockbird will not mount a bird that is not in lay.
    micstrachan likes this.
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    I may sound redundant here because you have already received excellent advice.
    As for feeding, it isn't rocket science and one doesn't have to be a poultry nutritionist unless they decide to try and make their own feed or insist on adding a lot of supplements.
    Protein and calcium percentages are the only things that vary by much in chicken feed. We go by general names and what is typically in the feed. Layer is normally about 16% protein and 4% calcium. All other feeds (starter/grower/finisher/all flock etc.) will vary from 13% to 28% protein and are all about 1% calcium.
    That's because only chickens actively building egg shells can make use of that high calcium content.
    Species and stage of life dictates the protein percentage needed.
    In case one is confused about what birds should be fed layer feed, it is in the name. It is for layers - only. If a female chicken isn't laying eggs, she is a hens NOT a layer. Roosters and young birds aren't layers either.
    Since none of your birds have been laying for months, they shouldn't be eating layer feed till laying resumes.
    Instead of going to a forum, all one has to do is read the feeding instructions on the back of the feed bag and on the guaranteed analysis tag. It is right there when you go to the feed store. It will tell you what animals it is intended to feed and has been printed on every bag in modern times. As knowledgeable as folks here are, no one knows more about what is in that specific bag of feed and what animals it was formulated to feed than the manufacturer of that feed.

    Sweet Feed is normally a horse feed. The bag you posted a picture of is All Stock Sweet Feed (not All Flock). That means horses, cows, sheep and goats (potentially llamas, alpacas, etc.) Definitely not for poultry. That information is printed on the bag.
    All flock feed is nutritionally complete for poultry.
    Sweet feed in not a complete feed for stock as they also require grazing/forage as well. And for everything but sheep, a copper supplement is also needed.

    Corn is the main ingredient in about 90% of the chicken feed sold in the US. If corn was a magic food that causes chickens to lay, they would already be laying. The person that told you to add corn to the diet to stimulate laying knows nothing about poultry nutrition or egg production. Don't seek animal husbandry advice from them again.
    Adding lots of things like vegetables and grain will lower the crude protein percentage of the total intake and essential amino acids even more so.

    Chickens (and all animals) need to be photo-stimulated to produce eggs/offspring. However, that doesn't mean light 24/7. All animals also need a daily dark period. It is the gradual increase of day length that stimulates the gonads to induce ovulation. 24/7 light just screws them up.
    24/7 light is how prisoner of war soldiers are tortured.
    Add to that a small cell, that's enough stress to prevent ovulation.

    As for the suggestion of cat food, again it is necessary to read the label. My wife has several cans of cat food in the pantry to add to the cat's dry food as a treat. The canned food is only 12% crude protein so that will lower the overall protein - not increase it.

    And one shouldn't mix things in a complete chicken feed - especially not oyster shell. It must be in a separate container. Doing so will force them to over consume calcium if they want to eat.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  5. path.otto

    path.otto Songster

    Jul 10, 2017
    Mason City, IA
    Very interesting, thanks, @aart!
  6. imneva

    imneva Songster

    Apr 9, 2018
    north central Wv
    Excellent info /post
  7. micstrachan

    micstrachan Free Ranging

    @beaches4me, great job coming to BYC for advice on this issue. I agree diet is likely the primary cause for the cessation in laying in your young birds. I can tell you want to do right by them, so I hope you do take the advice to provide a quality poultry feed only. I would also not add any supplemental light. They will start laying again when their bodies are healthy and rested enough to do so.

    You shared a brief description of your coop, but not the dimensions. The more square feet per bird the better, but another important factor is ventilation. Is the coop well ventilated? Also, stressed birds are more prone to illness and parasites. How does their poop look, and could you submit a sample to a local vet for a fecal float test?
  8. jdlx4

    jdlx4 In the Brooder

    Nov 2, 2016
    You might also want to add oats to their diet.
    alex5chickens likes this.
  9. alex5chickens

    alex5chickens Chirping

    Dec 2, 2018
    DON'T leave lights on 24/7! I think they might have a hard time sleeping. Good luck!
  10. Akrnaf2

    Akrnaf2 The educated Rhino

    Jul 5, 2014
    Center of Israel
    Give them light= very light/almost no molt and eggs all year.

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