Hens stopped laying after dispatching "other" chickens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by RichardandTresa, Nov 6, 2014.

  1. RichardandTresa

    RichardandTresa Out Of The Brooder

    51
    2
    33
    Jun 23, 2014
    I've been searching here for answers to our decrease in egg production.

    We have 9 hens in a LARGE coop and LARGE run. They were all hatched this past spring and egg production slowly (but steadily), grew (Most eggs ever collected were 8)... They've been on 17% layer feed for quite a while. Home made automatic feeders in the coop and in the run (never runs out). They also have an automatic watering system inside and outside the coop. 3 nest boxes, plenty of roosts, Coop and run kept very clean... They all look healthy and content always rushing the run door when we step out of the back door.

    As fall began, we added lighting to compensate (I must admit that I just this morning, learned to start the light in the early morning and Not in the evening, although the lighting has been running like this for at least a month without a drop in egg production.

    Last week I found 5 old hens for free on Craigslist that had stopped laying. Since we're also breeding and raising Quail (Far from the chicken area (actually inside our breezeway) out of sight), we decided to check if these hens were truly not laying and if so, send the new chickens to join our Quail in "freezer camp". We kept the Craigslist hens in very large rabbit cages for a few days just to check if they were laying or not. We got a couple of eggs (one every other day and probably from the same hen), but we never got a chance to continue because they began fighting... We kept separating them until we ran out of cages.

    We set up a cone at the far end of the yard (opposite of our chicken coop/run... Maybe 80' or more.) There is a boat and a garden still growing that blocked the view of our butchering area from our hens...

    Could butchering these five chickens have stressed out our laying hens? Of the nine, we have only gotten one egg a day from them since the butchering... I've read that stress can cause them to stop laying...?

    I will go ahead and change the lighting schedule to begin in the morning instead of the evening, but I just can't see any difference in their environment other than maybe their "hearing" what little squawking there was (We are VERY humane in quickly, dispatching our meat animals (Quail and rabbits)...

    PS: Our hens are not molting, are very friendly (we talk to them when we bring them treats and collect eggs)... some even let us pet them without treats...

    Thank you!

    Richard & Tresa
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,536
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    This freaks some folks out, but when we butcher, we do so right outside the coop/run. There's a tree there that's perfect for hanging birds from. My layers have never skipped a beat when we butcher. In fact, the older girls have started treating it as a buffet--they love the innards [​IMG] and pace back and forth, hoping for a bucket to be dumped in the run. This is processing birds that have been flock members since birth. I can't imagine what you're describing would affect your hens at all.

    What breeds do you have?
     
  3. RichardandTresa

    RichardandTresa Out Of The Brooder

    51
    2
    33
    Jun 23, 2014
    I'm seriously laughing my head off! (Really!)

    Our chickens used to be terrified of the lawn mower when we'd mow the back yard... Now (Actually they learned pretty quickly), they pace along the edge of the run trying to get as close as possible to it! (They've learned that when the grass catcher is full, they get it all, bugs, green delights...)

    Sounds like you have your chickens trained to learn that dispatching chickens means they get meat protein! LOL!

    We considered giving them the "guts"... (We saved the livers and hearts for ourselves), but I'm curious, are there parts of the dispatched chickens you don't give them? We've been scared that they might "catch something"... Tresa has shared that they'll eat old road kill! So I guess my fears are paranoia? I've heard they'll eat the heads too!

    We have 3 RIR, w Speckled Sussex and 3 black Astraulorps (SP?)... We've never had 9 eggs from them in one day... mostly averaging 5 or 6 figuring they're still growing into maturity... They were hatched 3/25/14...

    Still laughing here... I have to share this with Tresa!

    =D

    Thank you!

    Richard

    PS: This thought (of exposing our hens to a butchering came from something I "think" I read regarding rabbits and the same situation... We have three grow-out bunnies on our back porch (separate cages... We had to separate them from those in the hutch (expanding to twice the size this coming spring)... I built a captive bolt gun and dispatched a few within 15' of the porch rabbits. The gun worked perfectly with instant kills, no stress (as they love being petted on their heads and we pet all of them (we just don't name our meat bunnies)... They seemed a little "freaked out" afterwards, but it my have been my concern for them and projecting... I'll have to go and post the question over there... We do care so much about our animals... Treat them like pets, even the ones destined fro freezer camp... I figure that if we're keeping them in captivity, they deserve the best lives possible and this also includes the quickest, painless stress free dispatch possible as part of the "care package"...

    Thanks again for sharing! (Still interested in what parts of a raw chicken the hens can eat... Still searching Craigslist for more! ;)
     
  4. Peeps61

    Peeps61 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,191
    554
    206
    Apr 19, 2014
    NW Florida
    Yes, the one way to any animal's heart is to feed them and treat them with kindness. I would not think that butchering the chickens would bother the others too much. They associate most human activity with their getting fed, or getting scraps. When my husband mows, they know they are getting a few bucketsful of clippings - along with any bugs that may be present, so they all cluster at the gate to the coop, eagerly awaiting their salad. It may be something else, or just coincidence since the days are getting shorter.
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,536
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    We just give them the innards. Heads and feet go to the dogs. Feathers get buried in the garden. I'm not aware of any diseases a bird could catch from eating innards, but I've not worried about it so much as I'm only dispatching my own birds.

    I completely agree with you on the mindset of "A great life and one really bad day". That's how we do it. I've got 4 pigs that are happy as can be right now. Come Jan, they'll have a bad day, and my family will have ham [​IMG] and bacon, baby [​IMG]
     
  6. RichardandTresa

    RichardandTresa Out Of The Brooder

    51
    2
    33
    Jun 23, 2014
    Thanks you two!

    Feeling MUCH better now! Next batch of Craigslist Chickens will also contribute some protein to the hens as well!

    We do treat out animals with total kindness...

    I like how you put it...

    "A GREAT life... and one bad day"... We should all be so lucky!

    Still waiting for answers regarding rabbits in the same situation...

    I'm really thinking it the lighting set up I installed... I have it backwards! I need to (Didn't get to it today... really crammed with work), go out there and re-set the timer so that it goes on in the morning and goes out before it gets dark so they have a natural lighting situation to get back in the coop and find their roosts... It will be interesting to see if that's it.

    Thanks again!

    Richard & Tresa
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by