Hens aren't laying... what's up?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sabrina514, Nov 29, 2016.

  1. sabrina514

    sabrina514 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 4, 2015
    Cincinnati, OH
    I have 5 hens. RIR, white leghorn, minorca, buff orpington, and speckled sussex. 4 are about 1- 1.5 years old and the RIR is one that I rescued as a stray last summer (she's what got me into this! ;) - no idea how old she is but she's older than the others (I'm thinking maybe 2.5 or 3 years old?). I just know she looked like a mature 1+ year old hen when I got her and was laying about 4 eggs/week.

    Egg production dropped end of last summer, possibly partially from the awful heat (we're in SW Ohio but still get some nasty summers). This past one was pretty wet and hot. They were scratching in September so I treated for mites/lice. The scratching stopped. I wormed with Wazine strictly as a precaution in October (did not see worms or evidence of worms).

    They started molting in the past month or two (my speckled sussex had quite a yucky one!). My buff orpington and RIR started later and are still molting.

    I used to get 4 eggs on average per day. In September it decreased to 2/day. Now we are getting about one egg every other day, and I'm fairly sure my white leghorn is laying all of them. Previously she laid 6-7 days a week- she's a machine! None of the eggs are brown. My speckled sussex has grown all her feathers back and looks very healthy. I can tell the brown eggs apart and she hasn't laid any in well over a month. It's been a couple weeks for my other brown layers. I've never truly been able to tell the white eggs apart.

    Do chickens cease laying completely when they molt? How long until they start again? Could it be the shortened daylight (although the RIR, white leghorn, and minorca laid all through the winter last year). Other 2 were too young to lay last winter and started in early spring, so idk what their winter laying habits are.

    Should I expect them to increase laying again and when? Could something else be going on? Or should I just go ahead and order more hens for next spring? 4-5 eggs a day is plenty but 1 every other day... if they don't pick back up soon I'm going to have to buy grocery store eggs (gasp!).
    Any insight appreciated :)
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Go to the top of this forum and click on the sticky "Why aren't my chickens laying." Several factors are probably causing the cutback in egg production among them: Time of year (shortening day length), the molt, age of birds - they are taking a break in the laying cycle, and the list goes on. Many people add a few young birds to their flock on a yearly basis to offset this slump in egg production.
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    What's up is molting and birds in their second and subsequent autumns.

    They can't grow a new winter coat made of 93% protein and kick out a big lump of protein every day.

    Young birds may lay right through the first autumn and winter but not in subsequent years.

    They may start again after completely recovering from molt but not guaranteed till after the winter solstice when days get longer.

    As days get shorter, it is a signal not to reproduce. When day vis a vis night increases, it is a signal to reproduce.

    Leghorns are machines, as are minorcas but they are still chickens and need a yearly reboot.
    Commercial egg farms have birds based on the leghorn but they usually only keep them in lay for about 18+ months and then they cull them all and start with new birds so they don't have to feed non-layers. All in/all out.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2016
    1 person likes this.

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