Hens stopped laying completely. Please help.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Geolguy, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. Geolguy

    Geolguy New Egg

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    Dec 30, 2010
    We have two bard rock and two Sussex. All four a two years old this month. About 3 months ago they just stopped laying completely. Started by occasional thin eggs, then broken eggs because the shells got too thin, and for 2 months not a single egg! They have a nice big coop, a enclosed run that is 12 feet by 4 feet, plenty of water and food (pellets for layers), lots of snacks including yogurt, cat food, cooked rice, cheese bits, bread etc. They seem happy and healthy, certainly no big clucking episodes like they had while laying eggs. They are allowed to roam the yard for a couple hours every other day (have many wild raccoons so have to watch closely). They have a dust bath in their run. Have they just ended their egg laying days... ? We thought that they would keep laying past 2 years old.. but no eggs at all?
     
  2. remarkikkin

    remarkikkin Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 10, 2009
    Berkeley, CA
    This same thing just happened to us with our best layer. She's only 3 years old and after the winter molt she laid a couple of thin-shelled eggs which broke (and of course she ate). Then we got one normal egg from her and she stopped laying altogether and hasn't laid a singe egg for a month or two. It's spring and our other two birds are going full force. She's healthy, has free range of the yard where she digs worms, eats my cabbage and also has layer pellets, which she barely touches. I wonder if she has access to so much other food that she's not eating the layer pellets and getting proper nutrition? She has access to calcium but doesn't seem interested so I've started drying and crushing the eggs from the other birds and mixing with things she'll eat to trick her into getting calcium.

    A side note, she nests separately from our other two birds because they were picking on her. They all free range together in the day but at night she goes to her own coop (of her own free will!). She doesn't roost at night but sleeps in the next box.

    Any advice?
     
  3. remarkikkin

    remarkikkin Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 10, 2009
    Berkeley, CA
    Really, no one has any insight or advice on this? I'm actually starting to be a bit concerned about her. Anyone, please?
     
  4. tyjaco

    tyjaco Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 4, 2010
    Cloverdale, CA
    I wish I could help.

    I would say to check for mites and/or worms. Are any of them moulting? Have they had a recent scare or trauma? Is there any chance they can hear digging or anything that sounds like raccoons (or other predators) trying to get in?

    What kind of oyster shell are you offering?

    At two years old - they should still be laying - maybe not as much as when they were 1 year, but you should still be getting eggs from them - at least occasionally!!

    I have one hen who - at one year old - stopped laying completely. It was Christmas time and I had moved one of the roosts in the coop. For some reason, she stopped sleeping on the roost and started sleeping inside the nest box. she didn't lay an egg for 14 months! But now she started laying again (NO clue why), but with very soft shells. I offer oyster shell, but she doesn't seem to care for the kind I can get here. she likes the kind that looks like broken up shell - Not Purina's that looks like white grit...
     
  5. remarkikkin

    remarkikkin Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 10, 2009
    Berkeley, CA
    Thanks so much tyjaco! She seems to be clear of mites and worms (I'm no expert on the matter but can't find any signs). After three weeks of eating crushed up eggs shells plus free access to crushed oyster shell calcium (the big chunks, not white powder), she's still not laying and hasn't laid a normal eggs since last fall before the moult. She's been fully-feathered for three months or so now.

    I wonder if it isn't the nesting instead of roosting, like with your bird? She's not broody - runs around all day long but she doesn't roost at night. Maybe that affects their laying?

    I'm at a complete loss.

    As a side note, she thinks she's a dog and spends her time sunning on the deck with our pups and trying to sneak in the sliding patio door - what a character. Sure wish she'd lay though!

    Any expert chicken owners out there seen this behavior before?
     
  6. tyjaco

    tyjaco Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 4, 2010
    Cloverdale, CA
    When I was worried about mine - I did a lot a research and I found some people talked about moulting. Not sure I totally understand, but it seems that if your bird goes through a partial moult - they will stop laying. I THINK that might be what happened to my bird. She lost a few neck and tail feathers, they grew back, but that was it - no new wings or anything else. somehow maybe she stuck in some moult cycle...I dunno -
    keep us posted!, and don't lose hope :)
     
  7. mholland

    mholland New Egg

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    Mar 29, 2012
    hi- i have owned chickens for 30+ years- in the winter if i want them to continue to lay i put lights on- usually from dusk for about 4 hours. even then, they don't lay at full summer production, but at least i get eggs. i live in VT and i also think the cold can affect them. i do have a heated water bucket to keep water melted. (they really like it when i give them warm water in the cold!). so, other than a scare, which i usually think it takes 3 weeks for eggs to start, you may have a hen that just needs a rest. another thing that i think chickens really like in the winter is greens, such as lettuce, etc. in the summer they have grass, weeds, etc and my girls really like it whe i give them older lettuce in the winter. chickens are funny- that's why i have had them for so many years!
     
  8. FreestyleFarm

    FreestyleFarm New Egg

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    Apr 28, 2012
    My 2 year old Ameracauna also stopped laying for a month now. She was a good layer, then produced 2 tiny "wind/fart/fairy" eggs and now nothing. She will cluck around making the sounds and motions of laying. Even sits in nest making all sorts of noise, but when I check, nothing! Lots of false alarms but no eggs. She appears healthy, is free to roam in the garden and has access to food and water. No sign of molt, though she does feel lighter. Will she lay again?
     
  9. CorinneP

    CorinneP Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 19, 2012
    Up State New York
    Some say Lights through the winter do not help I say They Do !!! I wonder about changing their food . A Good Laying mash is important .. Perhaps adding some oyster shell if you shells were thin before . I am wondering if they were thin enough to break before and your hens got a good taste of them they may be eating their eggs as fast as they lay them . Have you seen any evidence wet bedding etc ? Is there any where they can hide them .. they can be soo sneaky I have found several hiding spots with my Free Rangers .. I think my production is dropping then stumble across a pile of old eggs. If you dont see mites or other parasites I would really beef up their diet .. A Good Laying mash .. Maybe some chopped up boiled eggs. Oyster shells some meal worms ... They might be deficient in something .. I have had molting temporarily decrease Egg production but never completely stop it for months .. Wishing you all The Best of Luck !
     
  10. Here is what I would do. (her egg laying days should not be over)

    1. Make absolutely certain that you don't have any critters getting in and scaring the crap out of them at night. This can halt egg production as well as make the one feel like she might be more secure in the box. Set a couple of mouse traps and place some poison in places the chickens can not get to. Check really good for anyplace that something is getting into.
    2. Go ahead and treat with Ivermectin pour-on. You can get a small pint size at TSC that will last a long time. See my coop page for instructions if you are not familiar.
    3. If you have a good quality laying pellet you should not need additional calcium. That 3% or more in a layer is already pushing it anyway.
    4. Cut way way back on the treats, especially the cat food and other nutrient packed treats. At her age she does not need all that protein and it is hard on her kidneys. I would not give anymore than 1/5 cup of scratch per day as a treat. (especially in the warmer months) They will get good exercise searching for treats like grubs in the yard and they need to be hungry enough to eat the complete feed.
    5. Get that girl a roost. Place it above the nest box but not real high up. Even if you have to drop the nest box a bit. I think as they get older some may not like to jump down from real high roosts.

    I just realized how old the post is.........but maybe the information will help others as well.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2012

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