I am stumped....egg laying issue

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by fasschicks, Oct 3, 2014.

  1. fasschicks

    fasschicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 2 Ameracauna's that I picked up in early July from a breeder. They were just a over 1 year old at that time. The breeder that I got them from had them on 24 hours of light a day to keep his girls laying. He had them for breeding and egg sales. Of course when I got them, I did not add any extra light - they got just regular old sunlight. These 2 girls are extremely bonded with each other and can't hardly get them more than 3-4 ft. away from each other. They will sit on the roost for half the day without coming down for food/water until almost 11 a.m. each day. So, they probably spend about 18 hours on the roost without getting down for food and water. They don't let any of the other hens split them up on the roost.

    The first 2 days I had them, I got an egg from each of them. After that, they have completely stopped laying. They are getting close to being 1-1/2 years old. They are very dependent on each other and tend to get picked on. Not in a cruel way, just general pecking order picking. They just seem very sensitive to it and are of course the lowest on the pecking order. Not sure if this has helped them any with the egg-laying issue. When we first got the girls, they liked to hide in the nesting boxes and tried to sleep there, but I kept putting them on the roost and finally they just go up to the roost at night. Maybe I discouraged them?

    I just started adding some supplemental light because egg laying is pretty low overall for most of my girls. I have 10 and only getting 1-3 eggs max per day. They are getting an extra 3 hours right now (about 15 total for the day). I was hoping it would stimulate the new girls to lay, but it doesn't seemed to have helped. I got into chickens as a hobby for eggs, but just wondering how long I wait to see if these girls will ever lay an egg. I feed organic, so it is pretty costly to be feeding extra birds. I don't mind keeping them over the winter, but they just seem to be mentally frail.

    The guy I bought them from said that if I stopped the 24/7 light, they would stop laying. I didn't think he meant literally forever. [​IMG] I thought that they would stop for a couple weeks or a month, but not indefinitely.

    Has anyone ever encountered this before? I am just at a loss. I know that their life is better with me by cutting out the 24/7 lighting, so for that I am grateful. I just don't know when one decides....you know?

    Wendy

    ETA: I know they are not hiding their eggs anywhere. I have a small area for them to range outside of the run. I have searched and haven't found anything.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2014
  2. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

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    Oh the poor things, they are probably suffering from a form of post traumatic stress. No animal should be made to have 24/7 light, can you imagine a human coping with that?

    I would just accept they have been mistreated and it's going to take a while for them to recover and their bodies to get back into a more normal rhythm. A few weeks to a month isn't very long after a year and a half of that, I'd just give them longer to recover.

    I believe I've read chickens have a predetermined amount of eggs they will lay in a lifetime, I'd much rather they lay them over their life time than have them forced out in half a lifetime then the hen disposed of when it's worn out. I hope you can give the poor things a bit of a better life.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2014
  3. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Gee! Chickens do need some time to "feel at home again" if they are relocated, but that's a pretty long time. They should be right at home by now. Can you look them over real good to make sure they don't have any issues, like maybe parasites? I wonder if he kept them in cages while he had them. I recently purchased a rooster for my flock, and the fellow I bought from had him in cage, kind of like a rabbit cage. So this rooster wanted to sleep in the nesting boxes at first. I had to keep taking him out. (Yuck--poo on the eggs is gross.) Maybe they're still not used to having more freedom? Could they be molting? If you're seeing lots of feathers, and they're a year old, the molting should start during their first autumn.....Could that be it?
     
  4. fasschicks

    fasschicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, appps and chicmom! I do have to say that the guy I got them from was a very nice man who has been doing this for many years. That being said, it doesn't mean it was right conditions for the birds. He had them in a barn sorted into different color groups (splash, wheatens and blue wheatens, blacks, etc.). These 2 girls were in the hay loft area. It wasn't a huge area, but not small either. But, these girls had never been outside on the ground as far as I know. That was a huge thing for these two - they were scared to go outside. They spent their entire life on a wood floor. For 6 weeks, I went out every day and picked them off their roost and took them outside. I finally built a small ramp for them as it appears they didn't know how to get down. I figure now they will come down to eat as they need. I have tried not to put food in the coop portion - I want to discourage them from staying in all the time. My other 8 girls "free-range" in a small area of our lawn. So, they are out of the run.

    What makes me nervous is that they will fail to thrive in the winter. They seem to feel safe on the roost and am afraid they won't want to come down when all the girls are enclosed in the coop/run area during the winter.

    I am a pretty sensitive person and can't imaging culling them out for this - just doesn't seem fair to them. A lot of my girls seem to be molting right now - looks like they are over the worst of it, but that could definitely be playing into it. Maybe it is a wait and see game if they will ever produce anything. I have a barnavelder who is still on the payroll even though no actual work has been done....ever. [​IMG]

    Wendy
     
  5. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Those poor girls! It truly sounds like they're having a hard time adjusting, especially with having had light 24/7. That's terribly hard on the body - be it chicken or human - and I would think it may take a while for their systems to recover and for them to find their true "rhythm".

    With us now getting shorter days and it beginning to get cooler plus it being molt season, it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't come around to laying again until spring. Maybe they'll adjust to Real Chicken Life in the interim and learn the joys of scratching in the dirt and dust bathing. I sure hope so!

    As an afterthought, since they're not laying, you might want to go ahead and worm them, especially if they've not been wormed before. I find my girls lay better after they're wormed.
     
  6. fasschicks

    fasschicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, Laurel for your recommendation on worming. That is a great idea.

    I guess I never realized how hard of a toll it was on their bodies to have so much light for a year of their life. I will definitely give them the benefit of time to sort things out.
     
  7. aatx

    aatx Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Have you weighed them periodically to make sure they aren't losing weight by not coming down often enough to eat?
     
  8. fasschicks

    fasschicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Honestly, I have not. And to be even more honest....how does one go about weighing a chicken. Especially one that is not a huge fan of being held? Curiosity is killing this cat. [​IMG]

    I am guessing the easiest time would be when they roost at night? I have never weighed any of my girls before, but probably a good idea. I just started feeding them FF this week, so it would be good to know if that is adding on any extra weight.
     
  9. aatx

    aatx Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I guess it would depend on what kind of scale you had (or wanted to buy).

    With my cat that I have to monitor, I use our dependable bathroom scale and just hold her, get that weight, then weigh myself, and subtract that. My chickens are small bantams so they fit on my kitchen scale right now. Can use a towel if needed - tare it out with the towel on there, then wrap chicken in it and get weight. I bring them inside and they are normally so confused by everything new that it's pretty easy to get them to pause long enough to get a weight.
     

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