Hens stopped laying. (Well, that's what I thought anyway.)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by spookychick, Apr 15, 2009.

  1. spookychick

    spookychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have a small table laying flock of a dozen birds. They lay very well. Honestly, an egg a day from everyone, almost without an exception. Two days ago, I noticed we were short a few eggs at collections. Then yesterday, only two eggs! And one of those had a whole in it and had to be tossed.

    My girls are all less than a year old, and just started laying in February. They have 14 hours of light in their coop, and a fantastic diet of protein, grains, greens, and vitamins - nothing has changed there.

    The only change has been the addition of a rooster to their pen in the last week. He's a gentle roo, and doesn't seem to be stirring up any trouble. No body seems sick, or stressed.

    I'm baffled as to what is going on. Could this new rooster be eating a dozen eggs a day without me seeing signs of shells or spillage in the nest boxes? Anybody have any guesses?
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2009
  2. chickNjake

    chickNjake Chillin' With My Peeps

    435
    0
    129
    Sep 3, 2008
    east tn
    I'm not sure, he could be eating them but usually they'll leave evidence. hmm, i'm kinda stumped are they all the same age? maybe in molt? hope you find some answers! [​IMG]

    ps: this might get more replies in the egg laying section.
     
  3. Mrs.Puff

    Mrs.Puff Chillin' With My Peeps

    627
    1
    151
    Apr 16, 2008
    Southern Iowa
    Even if it's just the roo breaking the eggs, the hens will eat the broken ones. They'll eat up everything too. You might keep a close eye on them. Like maybe put an egg on the floor in front of them and see if it gets eaten. Or even better, mark an egg plainly with a magic marker. Put it in the coop. If it goes missing-- you've got an egg eater.

    They should not be in molt at this age.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,136
    3,342
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    You might check out this site for clues.

    http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/poultry/factsheets/34.html

    The addition of the rooster could upset the pecking order and cause some stress, which could cause some to stop laying.

    It is possible one learned to be an egg eater and is teaching the others. If a hen sees an egg shell, she will eat it. A dozen hens could clean up all the egg shells.

    You could have a predator taking the eggs.

    They could be molting. There are misconceptions around here about molting, such as they only molt in the fall. Not true. I'll include a molting site you could check on.

    http://msucares.com/poultry/management/poultry_feathers.html

    This sounds like something you may really want to get to the bottom of quickly, especially if it is egg eating or a predator.
     
  5. spookychick

    spookychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you to everyone who responded. I put a camera out in the coop this morning, and found that the girls are indeed still laying. So I started hanging out in the coop this afternoon and discovered my hens ( at least two of them) getting ready to eat the eggs. I don't know if the roo taught them this new trick, or if they figured it out on their own, but I'm not impressed. [​IMG]

    I put out a whole bunch of oyster shells, and gave the misbehaving hens a good tongue lashing. I'm not sure how many of the girls are eating eggs at this point, but since it only started two days ago, I'm hoping it won't be impossible to break them of the habit.

    They have wooden eggs in the nest boxes, and ample nest boxes at that, although I've found most of the girls prefer to share a box.

    Aside from trimming their beaks - which I really wouldn't want to do - does anyone have any other suggestions to stop the egg eating?

    Honestly, I was surprised at how thorough a job they can do at cleaning up the evidence. Naughty girls!
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2009
  6. Mrs.Puff

    Mrs.Puff Chillin' With My Peeps

    627
    1
    151
    Apr 16, 2008
    Southern Iowa
    Beak trimming is not an option. It won't help. You just need to be very diligent about collecting the eggs. You could try something icky in an egg. Maybe hot sauce. Another thing is to cover the nest boxes with a cloth, so the hens can go in, but they can't see the eggs to easily. You could also raise the nest boxes higher, so they have to jump up to lay an egg, then when they come down they can't see the eggs anymore.
     
  7. Rusty Hills Farm

    Rusty Hills Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2008
    Up at the barn
    As we came out of winter, my favorite roo took to breaking eggs and the girls cleaned them up in a hurry. I upped the protein WAY up by using 27% starter and adding oyster shell. I didn't just put the shell in a box and let them have it. Instead I manually mixed a scoop into each quart of feed as I added it to t feeder. It took about 2 weeks or so but now nobody is eating any eggs. Just this morning I laid one in the middle of the run and nobody bothered it. When I did that 2 weeks or so ago, you'da thought I hadn't fed them in weeks. They fought over that dang egg and gobbled it up in less time than it's taken me to type this post.


    [​IMG]


    Rusty


    BTW hot sauce etc does not work. They LIKE it. Grape soda did help--for about 2 days and then it was back to eating 'em.
     
  8. spookychick

    spookychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mrs.Puff :

    Beak trimming is not an option. It won't help. You just need to be very diligent about collecting the eggs. You could try something icky in an egg. Maybe hot sauce. Another thing is to cover the nest boxes with a cloth, so the hens can go in, but they can't see the eggs to easily. You could also raise the nest boxes higher, so they have to jump up to lay an egg, then when they come down they can't see the eggs anymore.

    Thanks for the advice. I usually make frequent trips to the hen house during my day, but for two days I had so many errands I slipped up a bit. I've been keeping a close watch now, and things are improving. I do have nest boxes that require the girls to jump up, but I hadn't thought of the cloth curtain. Might definitely be worth a try.​
     
  9. spookychick

    spookychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:I currently feed 25% protein to my layers because I have large breed birds, but I'll try raising it a little more to see if that will help. I've also substantially increased the oyster shells I've been giving them. Hopefully this will help too. Thanks for the advice.
     
  10. Mesa

    Mesa Chillin' With My Peeps

    365
    0
    129
    Nov 21, 2008
    New Mexico
    I've read that hot mustard helps too. Put it into a blown out egg and set it in the coop.
    This is one of my worst chicken keeping fears....egg eaters! I hope you figure out something, keep us posted.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by