Hens Alternating on Molting and Egg Laying?!?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by my sunwolf, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    This is my first winter with chickens, and it's been a pretty entertaining ride since this spring.

    Zoe, who went through a partial molt before we adopted her (she looked like a rooster had gotten on her and not gotten off for months), finally went through a true seasonal molt and grew all her feathers back. She looks full and red and fluffy and today she laid her first egg of the season! Back on the job for her.

    But now my two best layers have stopped laying their eggs [​IMG]

    I see a lot of others complaining on the forums about how their hens have stopped laying altogether. Now, after we got 6 eggs a day from 6 chickens in the summer, I am grateful for 1 egg a day from 8 chickens in the winter.

    So, here's the sort of community questions:

    • Do you ever find that your chickens seem to alternate egg-laying days on purpose? As if they all sit around in a circle and discuss who will produce the single daily egg so that you won't get frustrated with the lack of production and kill them all?

    • Do you ever feel that certain small changes (weather, foods, number of hens, talking to them, etc.) can make a big difference in egg production?


    Also, to make you happy, here are some of my fluffy butts:


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2012
  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Lovely pic!
    You know, I used to think the same thing. I had about 50 hens in production and I used to get around 28-32 eggs a day. They did seem to alternate, except for one day when they slipped up and I got 42! I've noticed that the weather did seem to play a part. If we got a rainy day or a really hot day I'd get less or more eggs. Luckily winter didn't seem to bother them much. They carried on laying up a storm throughout.
     
  3. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Interesting that winter didn't seem to bother them! I've heard that fermented feed can help laying over the winter, and lights, but have not heard much else. Were they specifically cold-hardy breeds? (Though I've heard mixed reviews on the winter laying prowess of even these breeds.)
     
  4. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    They were mostly mixed breeds. Not sure what went into them... We had some RIR X's and an Australorp X hen and the rest is anybody's guess. I got them from different people and we crossed them all to each other. Ended up with a very colourful bunch of chickens who laid very well! And none of them molted.
     
  5. dreamcatcherarabians

    dreamcatcherarabians Chillin' With My Peeps

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    #1 - They are definitely in cahoots on the egg laying thing. There are days I go out and ask if they're all on strike and what did I do that violated their contract? I think it usually boils down to their bowls are not overflowing with Layer ration. Not empty mind you, just not overflowing. I fill up the bowls until the feed is heaped in them and bam! 3 more eggs magically appear....OR so it seems! LOL!

    #2 - My feed ration never changes, Purina Layena and free choice Oyster shell plus whatever they free range, so no to that one.

    Weather? Yes, it goes up and down. I know during the really GAWD awful hot spells we had this summer (110-115 F in OKLAHOMA for God's Sake!) really impacted the egg production, like down to zero a couple of times. Those poor hens were miserable.

    I try to keep around 25 laying hens all the time, that works out for me for #'s of eggs and amount of feed and management time, on top of my horse herd and it's a good fit. So, more hens would probably see less production because I'd just have more than I could manage well. At night, after a busy day, once I've cleaned the coop, I like to go in and sit down in the clean shavings and let it get dark and the girls all come in and kind of roost on me. I find it very peaceful and relaxing and judging from the amount of cooing and chortling going on, they seem to like it too. I talk to them, pet them, sing to them and they all lay pretty well. Does any of this impact the egg laying? LOL! I have NO idea but it seems to work for us, and really, that's all that matters isn't it? [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
  6. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug this just makes me want to breed a flock of mutts and cull based on my own standards. When you say none of them molted... you mean the first year, right? They have to molt sometime...?

    This is the greatest chicken-bonding time I've ever heard of! [​IMG]

    With my adopted flock it's always me inching towards them, and them inching away, until they get so freaked out they run off squawking.
     
  7. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Nope, none, never [​IMG] Not even a partial molt. And I had many of the hens for ±3 years. One I had for about 6 years. She stopped laying for a few weeks when she went broody, which happened 3 times and the rest of the time she laid like crazy. Must be something in the water...
     
  8. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    I still can't believe this! I'm a little jealous. Do you live in a climate that's warm all the time?

    And I have to let you know that another hen has started laying again, so I'll take my 2 eggs and call it acceptable [​IMG]
     
  9. mrsc1951

    mrsc1951 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I live in a climate where is is warm - west central Florida and my girls are molting. One at a time it seems. One of my Lt Brahmas started early last month and lost almost all her feathers. Now that she has fully feathered and her comb is starting to turn red again, her sister started dropping all her feathers. Do they usually take turns? I thought it was seasonal/age? They are about 17 months old. I seem to remember as a kid that all the ones that were old enough to molt fully did so at about the same time, however they were raised for food and eggs and not spoiled like my girls.
     
  10. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have a friend who swears it's by age, but then was baffled when his flock of 30 2yr old hens (all the same age) molted for almost 6 months, some molting earlier and some molting later. I think it really depends on the individual.
     

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