If the hens not molting, why do they stop laying eggs?

Olekushka123

Chirping
5 Years
Jan 7, 2015
54
2
64
All my hens almost a year old. Just over night dropped laying eggs.I have 31 hens. Was getting 24-29 eggs every day. Now it is only 12, the highest 18. I'm reading post after post, but cannot find similar situation. Nothing changed in their routine. I thought they are molting, but no feather on the ground, still all hens nicely feathered. They did lay more eggs in the winter than now.
Any thoughts?
 
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lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
27,005
917
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
You might try giving them some oyster shell in addition to their layer ration. I had some egg eating going on, and started tossing oyster shell on the ground for them several times/week. problem solved for me.
 

gillisjordan

Chirping
Mar 31, 2015
111
6
68
Antigonish County, NS
Sounds like they're eating them to me. It can be a tricky situation to tackle but not impossible. We have dealt with this in our flock and we had to send a couple of hens to another farm, either that or be culled. Once they begin eating them they won't stop. There will be a select few that will almost hunt the eggs that are being freshly laid and peck them open. Once they are broke other chickens will join in and then they will eventually start pecking them open, and the cycle continues. Try to pin point which hen is pecking the eggs open and remove them from the flock. If they are eating them you will notice yolk on their heads and above the beak, this doesn't mean that that is the particular chicken that is breaking them, as stated above, once its broken they will all eat it. We had one particular chicken that would wait for another hen to go into the nest, jump up and wait for her to lay, then peck the hen out until she could get at the egg.
 

Olekushka123

Chirping
5 Years
Jan 7, 2015
54
2
64
No hidden nest. They are just sitting in the nests inside of the coop. I have only 5 broody out of 31. Still, 12 eggs a day from 31 hens - too little.
 

crazyfeathers

Songster
6 Years
Aug 24, 2013
844
98
138
Auburndale, Wi
Did you use artificial light during the winter months? I know in the cold months here egg production slows if supplemental light is not given but most use this time to give their girls a much needed break.
When i notice a decline in egg production in the warm months i clean out the nest boxes and put fresh bedding in them, my girls are so curious they just have to check them out and must figure well as long as im in here..... works every time.
Again good luck.
 

Olekushka123

Chirping
5 Years
Jan 7, 2015
54
2
64
Thanks for the reply. In the winter I would turn the light on at 7am in the hen house for 2 hours till 9am. And it was it. They would go outside for all day till 5pm and back to roost when it would get dark. I just recently cleaned their boxes, but will try again. Thanks again "crazygeathers" for replying.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
95,334
126,551
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Not sure if you actually have broodies in the nests???
If so they may be scaring off the other birds from the nest area.
How many broodies and how many nests do you have?


If you're free ranging, I'd lock them in the coop for a few days to a week......at least until mid to late afternoon.
Free range birds sometimes need to be 'trained'(or re-trained) to lay in the coop nests, especially new layers. Leaving them locked in the coop for 2-3 days can help 'home' them to lay in the coop nests. They can be confined to coop 24/7 for a few days to a week, or confine them at least until mid to late afternoon. You help them create a new habit and they will usually stick with it.
 

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