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Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Sandra11, Nov 6, 2013.

  1. Sandra11

    Sandra11 New Egg

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    Nov 6, 2013
    I have three batches of chickens ranging from three years old to a new batching from March. The first flock layed well and continued until approx one month after the second where introduced. Over the years the egg production has diminished and stopped. Even the new flock isn't laying yet. I have added light for extended days, put live traps to catch any wild life (haven't seen any signs), changed the food, added a rooster (whom was active and now stopped mating and crowing), checked for broody hens ect. I did an examination of the dead bird and found no parasites.
    Suggestions?
     
  2. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    Sounds like stress to me. How much space do they have? What are they eating?
     
  3. Sandra11

    Sandra11 New Egg

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    I feed them Minor brothers layer feed and have oyster shell available as well. I play music as well, as I thought of stress as well. I can't figure out what. I also feed them table scraps of vegetables and fruit. No meat.
     
  4. Sandra11

    Sandra11 New Egg

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    Nov 6, 2013
    They have a 40x40 coop inside and then out and they also are out in the yard during the day.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    How many birds in that 40 x 40 coop?

    They don't need oyster shell if they get layer feed.

    How many molting?

    March babies might not be ready to lay yet, what is the breed?
     
  6. Sandra11

    Sandra11 New Egg

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    Approx 30 birds and one rooster. The breeds are mixed leg horns, columbian rock x, black sex linked red sex linked and rhode island red. The inside coop is 40 x 40 and app roc the same outside. I do let them out during the day where they have free range of the yard approx 2 ache.
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    There are so many possibilities and so many things I don’t know about your specific situation. It’s quite possible there are a variety of reasons you are not getting eggs.

    I assume you’re in the northern hemisphere? It’s normal for hens to molt and quit laying this time of year. Pullets will often skip the molt and continue laying their first fall, but practically any mature hen will molt when the days get shorter. I know you said you have added light, but the key is not a magic number of hours of light. The key is that the days are getting shorter. That started in June at the summer solstice. It’s quite possible that they started to molt before you added light.

    With those breeds I would have expected your pullets to be laying by now but they don’t always do what they should. Adding light can help kickstart them if they are not already laying. I had 9 month olds start laying last December without extra lights. Pullets can be really inconsistent about when they start to lay.

    It’s not unusual for some to hide a nest from you when they free range. They may be laying and you’re just not finding the eggs.

    Adding the new rooster can stress some of the hens and maybe cause a few to stop laying for a while, but that should not stop all of them and they should get over it pretty fast. But any kind of stress like adding or taking away flock members to shake up the pecking order, them going without water for a long time like a full day, changing the way you house them or about any change can cause a disruption to laying, but it is usually not that severe or that long lasting.

    It’s possible something could be getting the eggs. Many egg eaters will normally leave some evidence behind, but not all do. The hens may even be cleaning up the shells. When I see eggs disappearing without a trace my thoughts go to snakes, canines (fox, coyote, dog), or a human. A raccoon will often carry the eggs to eat them but they normally don’t go far. You should find a pile of eggshells somewhere around, maybe even on top of the coop. Snakes are normally not consistent. They will eat a few eggs then stay away a few days while they digest them. If it were a fox or coyote I’d expect you to be missing chickens. Do you have a pet dog that may have learned that the egg song is an invitation to a snack?

    There are some diseases that can cause them to stop laying, but you should either be seeing some strange eggs or the hens should be acting sick if that is the problem. You said you had one die. How was she acting before she died and are any of the others acting sick? You said you checked her for parasites. Did you cut her open and check her guts for worms? It’s not that unusual for a chicken to just die; heart attack, stroke, injury, so I would not be that concerned if it is just one. But in case another dies you might want to contact your county extension agent (in the phone book under county government or probably contact info online) and find out the cost and procedures for getting a hen autopsied. In many states the cost is not much but there are certain procedures you need to follow to preserve the body. If you know the cost and procedures you can make an informed decision if you are faced with that.

    What I suggest is to leave them locked in the coop or coop and run to see if you get eggs. If you see eggs, that might mean they are hiding them on you or maybe you locked something out that is eating them, but at least you would know they are laying. Another strategy is to mark a couple of eggs and put them down there and see if they disappear. It’s really hard to solve a problem if you don’t know which problem you’re facing.

    Good luck with it. I know it can be frustrating, like my 9 month old pullets that waited until the darkest shortest days of the year to start laying.
     
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  8. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    I agree with everything Ridgerunner said above.

    I wanted to add that if you start adding supplementary light, adding it all at once and going from 10 hours (what we have in the US right now) to 14+ hours in one day won't help you. You must add the light in small increments, 15 or so minutes every three days, until you're up to that 14+ hours. That's a bit tricky this time of year, because you don't just add the 15 minutes, you have to add the 15 minutes plus the number of minutes of daylight that you've lost each day, if that makes sense. It's about 2min a day, so every three days I add 15 minutes + 6 minutes, if that makes sense. You have to add the six minutes just to keep the amount of light steady, then add the 15 minutes.

    Once you start doing that, the light isn't a magic bullet. It takes as long as 6 weeks for lighting to affect chicken egglaying once they have shut down due to lack of light.
     
  9. Sandra11

    Sandra11 New Egg

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    Nov 6, 2013
    Thanks for the advice. Yes I am in Ontario, Canada. I didn't know about the light. I left them locked up and no eggs. I did check the intestine and there was no worms present in the digestive tract although there where undeveloped eggs and one egg developing. I will give them some time and see what happens. Thanks for the input; I will keep watching.
     

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