Inherited Chicken Coop & Chickens Not Laying

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by VikingMom, Aug 15, 2010.

  1. VikingMom

    VikingMom In the Brooder

    Jun 21, 2010
    Last weekend we got a call from our neighbors who decided that their seven chickens were too expensive to keep. Of the seven chickens only one was laying an egg every other day (we were told). Since we have had so much fun with our Little Ladies, who are only 3 months old, we jumped at the opportunity to have older chickens.

    What we got that weekend was 3 (we think 8 months old) Austrolops (sp?) and 4 Leghorns (we think 4 months). Included in the deal we acquired the re-purposed plastic playhouse turned coop. We discovered they only had 2 nesting boxes. My husband quickly built 4 more that weekend.

    Since we have acquired them we have had exactly 1 egg-Aug. 11,2010

    Changes we have made from previous owners

    1. Better quality food-changed from 90% compost forage with 10% "scratch."
    2. Better access to water and fresh daily-changed from duck pond water
    3. Four more nesting boxes-added to the original 2.
    4. Large free range yard....

    The Austrolops like to roost while the Leghorns crowd into one nesting box. We have looked around the yard for hidden eggs and have found none.

    Given that:
    1. When do they normally lay?
    2. Age and time of day of laying?
    3. Frequency?

    From what I am have read in BYC and other sources, I am theorizing that the coop maybe to small and not dark enough and the "Older Seven" are actually too immature to lay eggs...yet.

    In the meantime, the Little Ladies are growing just fine, but are no where ready to lay eggs yet. The Little Ladies are 2 Americaunas, 2 RIR and 1 Leghorn/Barred Rock mix. They are only 3 months old. They still "peep" instead of "bawked."
    Yes, the two "flocks" are kept separately.

    Ideas/Theories/ Comments/Re-directions muchly appreciated

    The Newbie!!!!
    P.S. The Vikings didn't have chickens until they settled in Britain and France... So, this Viking Mom is scratching out new territory. [​IMG]
  2. Kansaseq

    Kansaseq Prairie Wolf Farm Asylum

    Feb 12, 2009
    NE Kansas
    Welcome VikingMom, and congratulations on your new acquisitions!
    Firstly, yes, your coop is too small for so many birds. The rule of thumb is 4' of floor space per bird for the coop, and 10' of floor space,per bird, for the run. 1 nest box per 4 birds is plenty.
    8mo old is old enough to be laying, but 4 mo is a little early. 18-22 weeks is the average age chickens start their laying cycle. I'm not sure what your weather is like where you are, but it's been 108* here with the heat index, so I'm not surprised if your girls are not laying in this heat.
    Chickens will lay any time from early morning to afternoon. Frequency depends on the breed and the time of year/weather. Breeds like Australorps and Leghorns are egg-laying machines, and will lay almost every day. However, I have some Easter Eggers that are fairly prolific, too. It varies with individual lines within a breed, as well.
    It sounds like you are doing a good job taking care of your new and current girls. Keep up the good work, and you'll be awash in eggs before you know it!
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2010
  3. VikingMom

    VikingMom In the Brooder

    Jun 21, 2010
    Thank you Kansaseq!

    As I read your post to my husband we discussed the current size of the re-purposed Playschool playhouse-turned into a coop. We were thinking that it may have been fine for the original 3 Australorps, but with the addition of the Leghorns it may be too crowded. It would explain why the Australorps like to roost above the boxes too.

    It has been hot here too. I live in Southern California... East of San Diego-in the mountains but not in the desert. The hottest day has been 100 degrees. We were wondering with the plastic material of the coop it could also be making the inside hotter. [​IMG]

    Do you line your nesting boxes with pine shavings or straw? That is our current debate right now.
  4. Kansaseq

    Kansaseq Prairie Wolf Farm Asylum

    Feb 12, 2009
    NE Kansas
    For nestboxes,I use shavings, or grass clippings when I have them. Some people use shredded paper, or hay. Really depends on your preferences.
    I would also worry about the play house getting too hot. Does it have plenty of ventilation? Lots of people on here have converted those play houses into coops. You should do a search (try Little Tykes Playhouse coop) and see how others have transformed theirs. It can and does work, if you do it right. CoyoteMagic is working on a whole 'town' of those playhouse coops. I think she has pictures and how she did it on her BYC page.

    I'm going to bed now, but most of the people on here are very helpful if you have more questions. I hope you like it here. I sure do [​IMG]
  5. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Songster

    Feb 4, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Quote:I put shavings in the bottom of my hens' nesting boxes and then straw on top. The hens scratch it all out on to the floor of the coop each day, but if I don't replace it, they won't lay in their boxes. They are free range, so if they're not entirely happy wwith their nesting boxes, they sneak off into our straw shed and lay their eggs in amongst the bales in there. They definitely prefer straw to lay their eggs in!
  6. harewizard

    harewizard Songster

    Apr 5, 2009
    Quote:Hi There !
    What a blessing to be able to help out a neighbor and 7 young hens. [​IMG]

    I agree that the coop sounds to be on the small side. IMHO, the Leghorns are a fairly small size hen and tend to do well in less than perfect situations. The Australopes are bigger birds and do need some room to spread out. ( I have both [​IMG] )

    My ideas to share with you are:

    *Make sure you are feeding the big girls oyster shell and/or egg shell. They will need it for egg production. Add some to their feed or feed seperate in a small bowl. They will eat as needed.

    *What do their feathers look like? If they have been with less than optimum protein, the first bits of any protein will go to their bodies and feathers; than egg production.. My advice is to feed all your girls Flock Raiser by Purina. 20% protein, for starting, growing and finishing.

    * Enclose an area they are allowed to free range in for a week. This way thay still have greens, but you may be able to find the eggs!![​IMG]

    * Lastly, Enjoy them! [​IMG] They are getting to know their new surroundings. Even moving a house away, there are still noises and sights thay are adjusting to. Leghorns are flighty, cautious birds to begin with. [​IMG]

    Hope some of this helps, [​IMG]
  7. they'reHISchickens

    they'reHISchickens Songster

    Oct 31, 2008
    Expect it to take two weeks for them to adjust to their new surroundings. The heat and feed are contributing to lack of eggs. If the birds look good and well feathered and all else seems well, consider they might be egg eaters. Crowded conditions, boredom, and protein deficiency can start egg eating. Check them frequently, listen for the egg song, and see if that could be part of the egg problem.
  8. VikingMom

    VikingMom In the Brooder

    Jun 21, 2010
    they'reHISchickens :

    listen for the egg song, and see if that could be part of the egg problem.

    Egg Song? What does that sound like or look like?

    From a naive perspective, the feathers don't look bad. How should the feathers look? All of them have feathers with no raw spots or are plucked. I have seen what stressed parrots look like and these guys don't look like that.

    After looking at the other Playschool/Little Tykes house/coop plans that Kansaseq posted ours look similar too. We are looking at plans to build a larger coop to house all the 12 in the future. We may just start earlier. [​IMG]

    [​IMG] The yard they are in is pretty good size. We are encouraging them to be free range, which I don't think they have ever had. We have changed the feed to a Purina brand. It will take time for them to adjust.

    OMG! Thank you everyone for the help and excellent advice.

    My kids and now hooked husband are having a blast with these birds.

  9. Kansaseq

    Kansaseq Prairie Wolf Farm Asylum

    Feb 12, 2009
    NE Kansas
    Helen, it took me forever to figure out what the 'egg song' was. I would hear them sound the alarm call, and go running outside to see what horrible predator was attacking them. They would just look at me like I was crazy. Took me forever and being on this site to realize that the horrible racket they make when they see a predator is very similar to the 'song' they sing when one of them lays an egg. Let me tell you; it's not very melodic! And sometimes they will fake you out, too! I've seen and heard them doing it, gone out to the coop, to find NO egg. They really are funny and amusing creatures. [​IMG]

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