Inherited chickens, no longer laying

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by potater, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. potater

    potater New Egg

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    Jan 13, 2009
    Hi All,
    I am in need of advice. We bought a house in the fall (August) and with it inherited 20 chickens. Seems like a mixed variety. They were laying about 6-9 eggs a day then thru November. Now we are now getting no eggs. I have no clue on raising chickens but am willing to learn. No idea as to age of these chickens.
    Here is what I do know about them
    4 roosters
    16 hens
    Feeding a "complete" layer feed in crumbles that I picked up at local farm store. Have grit and oyster shells in seperate feeder always available. Food scraps as we have them.
    Enclosed coop with about 6-8 inches straw bedding that I have been turning over about once a week, taking some out, adding some fresh in.
    Some are losing feathers. Lots of feathers.
    Outside temp was up to -25 in December About 30 degrees now.
    Putting clean water in coop 2 x a day.
    Leaving 75 watt lightbulb on for most of day. Only have 8 hours daylight at this time.
    ANY input would help.
    Thank you in advance
    Wendy
     
  2. katrinag

    katrinag Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sound like some of them are molting. It is normal for them to take a break in the winter b/c of the lack of light. When they molt alot of them stop egg production.
     
  3. wateboe

    wateboe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 8, 2008
    Lebanon, Ohio
    Just to second that last motion... as a first time chicken keeper I was amazed at the quick onset of moult and corresponding decrease in eggs this fall. Don't give up! Ours get a minimum of supplemental light, that is, I do keep one CFL bulb on through the day because their coop can be pretty dark in the winter. I am not trying to extend the daylight hours in this case (I wanted to give my girls a break this winter, but lots of folks provide hours of supplemental light to keep egg production up through the winter.)

    We have a mixed flock of sixteen hens and (just by pure chance) many are considered to be good winter layers. Once they all came out of moult we started getting plenty of eggs again (still fewer than summer though.) You might want to search for posts about moult, moulting, molting, etc. to get some good nutrition tips and helpful information.
     
  4. wateboe

    wateboe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 8, 2008
    Lebanon, Ohio
    Oh... and welcome! You will find so much information on this forum that you will never want to leave the computer.
     
  5. meriruka

    meriruka Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 18, 2007
    If they are molting, a handfull of dry catfood or two a day helps them. They are probably using most of their energy to stay warm.
    When the days start getting warmer and the temps increase, they will most likely start laying again.

    Just curious, with temps that low, how do you keep the water from freezing? So far here, it has not been all that cold, but I wonder what to do about the water if it does get colder.......
     
  6. eggzettera

    eggzettera Chillin' With My Peeps

    [​IMG] & [​IMG] Providing extra protein during a molt is never a bad idea Black Oil Sunflower Seed (BOSS) is usually recommended as well as LIMITED amounts of cat food (not too much due to sodium content). Cayenne Pepper in their feed can also help boost their metabolism to help boost laying frequency during winter months but during a molt I would not want to stress them so that is an option you may want to try AFTER they are done molting IF you do not see any increase in production once they are feathered back in......
    HTH
     
  7. KrisRose

    KrisRose Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 9, 2007
    Davison, MI.
    It sounds like you are doing real well taking care of your inherited chickens.
    During the early part of winter, when days are the shortest of the year, is when egg production falls off. You would think that with the light you provide that they would be able to give you at least 1 egg a day [​IMG].
    With all the feathers you probably have a few that are in a molt, which is a reason they are not laying. Provide some protein. I use cheap bologna.
    I would check to make sure you don't have medical issues bothering your flock. Check poop for worms and the vent area for mites and/or lice.
    You might want to think about the number of roosters you have- about 3 too many.
    Other then that I would just wait out the lack of eggs.


    Edited to add- Welcome to BYC.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2009
  8. potater

    potater New Egg

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    Jan 13, 2009
    Thanks to all who responded. I was kinda figuring that the roosters were just eating food, taking up space but what to do with them? I cannot find anyone who wants them. Anyway, I will do as you all have kindly suggested. I will go catch one or two of the hens (if I have to:)) and take a closer look at them for mites. Also will add a very little bit of cat food and see if it helps.

    As for keeping the water from freezing, as long as it is 25 degrees or warmer, it seems to do ok. But when it is colder, which it mostly is, I have to take water to them a couple times a day. A guy at the farm store suggested that I put a sinking deicer into the metal waterer to keep it from freezing. Any suggestions? I am always out taking water to my goats so doing the chickens is easy.

    I hope they are all just molting. I would like to learn a little more about how to care for them before any medical problems occur. I know, I know, that is how we learn by doing. But maybe a few things at a time.

    Thanks again
    Wendy
    Power, MT
     
  9. potater

    potater New Egg

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    Jan 13, 2009
    Ok , took your advice and went out and caught 3 different hens. First of all, I can catch a goat in a 5 acre pasture easier then any one chicken in an enclosed coop. Do you have leg crooks for these critters?? The roosters added to the fun by chasing me as I am trying to catch the hens.

    The findings are: it looks as though they do have mites. All 3 hens have tiny crawling mite looking bugs on them.

    I have at home Sevin-5 Ready to use 5% Dust. Other then that I only have pour-on ivermectin for cattle. Will the Sevin work or should I get something else. Does all the bedding have to be removed and replaced and do I have to get some onto each chicken?? How do you do that anyway???

    I appreciate your help.
    Wendy
     
  10. KrisRose

    KrisRose Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 9, 2007
    Davison, MI.
    LOL- They are fast!
    You can use the sevin dust. The best thing to do would be to remove all the bedding and clean out the nest boxes. Then sprinkle the dust on floor and in boxes. I use a broom that I can spread it around to get in cracks. Then replace bedding and, yes , catch the hens and sprinkle some dust on them. Also put in their dust baths.
    However I don't know if you want to do that much in the middle of winter. Perhaps just do the nesting boxes, sprinkle on the hens, and then just throw some on top of their bedding. Leave a major clean up job for spring.
    As for dusting the hens, I sprinkle a small amount on their backs and then place some on my palm and rub belly and vent area. The hen will shake herself out spreading the dust everywhere.
    The bonus to this is that YOU will not have mites after you get through dusting your hens [​IMG]. I do not have alot of experience dusting hens, only on a hen I was introducing to the flock. Perhaps someone with more experience has a better method??
    You might want to worm your hens, I used Safegaurd crumbles for my introduced hen, but other folks use Eprinx (sp). Do a search for wormers, I only have first hand knowledge of the crumbles.
    Lucky you- I want goats- but need different fencing due to a neighbor with out a sense of humor [​IMG].
     

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