Hens appear to have stopped laying after the flood

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Steve777, Oct 2, 2013.

  1. Steve777

    Steve777 Out Of The Brooder

    23
    0
    32
    Jul 14, 2013
    This is a flock of 5 middle aged (2+ yr old) hens that I inherited from a neighbor who moved away in July. I had been taking care of them before they moved to my place, and they were laying 2-3 eggs per day. That slowed down quite a bit after the move but had recovered, and by August they were back up to their previous level for a month or more. Then we had the rains/floods a few weeks ago (the floods in the news in Boulder and elsewhere in Colorado). We did not have any flood damage, thankfully, but the chicken run area had 1-2" of water running through it over the ground for 8-10 days (normally bone dry), and it was cold and wet for a week. The girls made it through the rain, but I could tell they weren't happy to be wading through a "stream." Their coop was dry (up on stilts 3'), but the rain and water on the ground made for a very cold wet week or so.

    Since that event, their laying has tapered off, to almost nothing. I am continuing to feed them layer feed, and occasional garden extras, but they just aren't laying eggs. I sometimes see one of the hens in the nesting boxes, but no eggs get left there. And I have not found any other eggs hidden around. For a while it was one egg a day, then one every other day, and so far this week none. I have noticed that they seem to be eating less of their feed than before too (it is available all the time so the decline is their choice). Otherwise the hens seems fine, are active, going after bugs in their yard, and come running for scratch and extras when I come over.

    So I am not sure what, if anything, I could or should be doing about this. Is it just the trauma of a week of cold wet weather that has shocked them into not laying? Could there be something else wrong that needs attention?

    Thoughts, suggestions?
     
  2. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

    36,684
    4,713
    566
    Feb 18, 2011
    Ohio
    This time of year a lot of chickens are going in to molt, especially the older birds. Have you noticed yours losing feathers, or that they have pin feathers coming in? Yours have had a couple of things going on lately and the combination weather, shortening daylight, and their age would make me think that might be part of the problem.
     
  3. Steve777

    Steve777 Out Of The Brooder

    23
    0
    32
    Jul 14, 2013
    Hmm. I have noticed a few more feathers around the place, but nothing noticeable on the birds. I had considered that it may be molting season, but I have to say that I have no clue what that really means; guess I should study up on that. Also had given some thought to reduced light too, so perhaps it is time to put that light in the coop...
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,451
    3,545
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    It's not the weather, it's just the shorter days and the age of the hens. It's the time of year to take a break.
     
  5. Steve777

    Steve777 Out Of The Brooder

    23
    0
    32
    Jul 14, 2013
    Thought I'd follow up on this.

    About a week after the original post I put a light on a timer in the coop. I also switched to a higher protein layer feed. The hens did go through a molt, not as severe as some I've seen pics of, but a bunch of feathers lost. Also added a heat lamp in the coop for use during those real cold days and nights we've had.

    Molt seems over now for most of them and the hens have been hanging out in the nest boxes, which they have not done for some time. Today found the first egg in over two months. We'll see how quickly this ramps up, considering that winter still has a ways to go. But I am happy that things are getting back to normal again. So between the molt and flood stress and no auxiliary light, it took about 10 weeks to start the laying cycle again.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by