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Inconsistant laying

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by whitey4303, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. whitey4303

    whitey4303 In the Brooder

    Apr 1, 2010
    Hello all, I am an owner of 6 birds...3 amberlinks and 3 golden comets. I am looking to get some info on why they are not laying consistantly. They are all full grown and we bought them in March.

    In the past 2 1/2 weeks we have been getting anywhere from 0 to 3 eggs. I am not sure when they start if they are early or what not. For about a week, I had noticed that one started laying on a top box in coop. That was the only chicken laying for a while. She laid daily for about a week. They became bigger throughout the week. (golden comet) Walked in on her by mistake one day.

    Then I noticed another egg in lower box. (amberlink) I know this because I saw her one day! About 2 days later I had noticed 2 eggs in lower box and 1 in upper box. This went on for about 3 days then the one on top stopped laying. Now for the past week I am lucky to get one egg. Today I got none :-(. I dont know whats going on.

    I have a run that is about 10' 7' in one area, with slight coverage from tall weeds. I keep them for sun blockage. The run then turns into a laneway about 20' long and about 3 to 4' wide. This goes up to our gate. There are minor weeds, an old large plastic tube (for coverage).

    The coop is about 10'x8' with a straw floor and straw in boxes. There are 12 boxes (bought a dozen more but they did not get along). There is a perch at both levels of the nesting boxes. I also keep the light on 24 hrs a day (having read that it promotes egg laying). I dont know if its too hot and I should shut off the light during the day and turn on at night? They have water in a homemade waterer that is cleaned when dirty and filled daily. They have ample food from a homemade food dispenser that works and they are on the egg layer feed. I have recently started giving them more and more vegitable scraps to eat.

    Is there anything I can do or what to do different. Any help that you folks could help me with would be amazing! Thank you
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I'm a little confused. You said you got them in March, that they are full grown, and that the eggs get noticeably bigger the more they lay. That sounds like pullets just starting to lay to me. If you got them as chicks in March, they are not full grown. They are probably around 18 to 20 weeks old. That is old enough that they can start laying, but it is not unusual for a pullet that age to not be laying.

    You do not need light 24 hours a day. 14 hours a day is all you need to keep them laying. They need a period of dark to rest. Constant light can stress them out and can cause certain egg defects. I suggest you get a timer and leave the lights on no more than 14 hours a day.

    Too much heat can cause hens to lay less. If they are just learning to lay, they can be very irregular in their laying. It's very possible you are experiencing that irregularity. Is it possible someone is stealing the eggs?

    What I really suspect is that they are either hiding a nest from you or something is eating the eggs. From what you have described, it sounds like they can find plenty of places to hide a nest from you. As far as something eating the eggs, it could easily be one of the hens. They will clean them up pretty good. Sometimes rats, skunks, or possums will eat an egg and the hens will clean up the egg shells they leave behind. I have had a snake eat eggs too, up to 4 in one visit. They swallow them whole, go away to digest them, then come back for more. One way to testif something is eating eggs is to put a marked egg in the nest. If it disappears, something is eating them. That won't tell you what is eating them, just that something is.

    This is a hard one. It may be that there is nothing serious wrong, just that they are learning to lay or that the heat is slowing them down like it is many of us and you just need patience. Or you may have a serious problem. I wish I could tell you for sure what is going on. Good luck!
  3. whitey4303

    whitey4303 In the Brooder

    Apr 1, 2010
    well thank you so much for your response. I do check daily in their run for any type of eggs being laid and I have found nothing. I look very thourough in the spots that I cannot see in the over grown weeds.

    This is my first experience with chickens and when I called a local farm market in which I purchased them, they told me about 2 months ago that "within 2 months they will be full grown and start laying". So I guess half true. lol

    I have a door closed to the coop so nothing can get it. I also wedge a board between the bottom roost and the door so nothing can push in...may be hard to picture. Now if they are eating the eggs...will they eat the shell? I did notice one day when I found the one lonely egg in the bottom box...it was laid by an Amberlink, and one of the Golden Comets jumped in but didnt mess with the egg. moved slightly about in the little space she had, but didnt disturb the egg.

    Also, its been about 90 degrees where I live. I dont know if this plays a part, but from what you say it does. I hope this is all that is bothering them. With the light, I usually work till about midnight, when I get home should I shut the light off when I get home and turn it on during the day, or should it be vice versa? Or should I just leave it off at all times? its getting dark about 9pm here where I live and If I do this...they will be in dark from 9pm till about 8am when i get up to let them out. Which then in turn they will have natural light.

    I guess I better give a better description of the coop for help. The coop is located in the back corner of my barn. Used to be my GF's grandfathers. He built it origanally as a chicken coop then in the later years...about 10 years ago used it for a dog. It 2 walls metal and 2 built wooden walls making it close to a large square. There was a door cut out in metal. This door opens one way and stays open while they are out. The coop door is located near a large sliding door in which I open as well to let air flow and provide a bit more amount of light (if light is off).

    I will definately do that egg marking trick to see whats going on. Thank you again for all your advice. I will definately start shutting light off until I hear from you again with more helpful advice. Thank you so much
  4. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Songster

    Feb 4, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Factory hens in cages have lights on them 24 hours a day to maximise egg production and make bigger profits for the producers, but with no thoughts for the welfare of the hens. Like someone else said, they only need about 14 hours of light a day. That includes natural daylight, so it doesn't mean you should have a lightbulb on for the full 14 hours. I don't use a lightbulb in the summer because in Scotland we get about 19 hours of daylight which is more than enough. In the middle of winter though, it gets dark around 4pm, so I let my chickens go in to roost naturally with the fading daylight and have their lightbulb set on a timer to come on from 3am to about 9am, depending on when sunrise is.

    For you, if it gets dark at 9pm and light at 8am, you probably don't really need artificial light at all. But if you want to encourage them to start laying earlier in the day, maybe so you could (hopefully) collect some eggs before you go out to work in the morning, you could set your lightbulb to come on from 5-6am till just after 8am. That way your chickens would be encouraged to get up and think about laying their eggs a couple of hours before the sun comes up.

    Hope that helps you some!
  5. whitey4303

    whitey4303 In the Brooder

    Apr 1, 2010
    Well, thank you for the help I really appreciate it! I think its time to get myself a timer!! I will try that. Thanks again!

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