Is this normal for non-laying hens?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by SusanD, Dec 9, 2015.

  1. SusanD

    SusanD Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi,

    I noticed now that my two layers have called it quits for the winter, that they are not eating as much (their food is going down slowly) and that I am not picking up as much. Does that sound normal to you, or should I be checking for crop issues (no obvious ones) or trying to minimize the shavings/straw that they eat (I wish I could teach them that shavings and straw aren't food)?
     
  2. OrganicFarmWife

    OrganicFarmWife Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hens often stop laying in the winter, when daylight becomes shorter, they will start again in a few weeks.
    As for eating straw, most likely they are rooting for insects under the straw.
     
  3. SusanD

    SusanD Chillin' With My Peeps

    I hope it's mostly insects and not mostly straw:) They do love to scratch, and it is not always easy for me to tell what they are finding.. As far as making sure they get enough nutrition, I suppose I can keep an eye on their weight. Also long as they maintain their weight, I would imagine they're ok.
     
  4. OrganicFarmWife

    OrganicFarmWife Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you are feeding them commercial feed, they are getting enough nutrition. Scratching is natural behavior, they are just being chickens. They might also be trying to take a dust bath, do they have any sand?
     
  5. MikeTheGardener

    MikeTheGardener Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My 6 seem to go through the same pattern that you describe, however, they always come out of it, laying plenty of eggs and looking healthier than ever. I just monitor it closely, but haven't had to do anything specific.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    It’s been a while since I’ve done the math, but a hen regularly laying an egg is equivalent to a woman giving birth to a full sized baby about once a week or maybe it was once a month. I can’t remember and I’m too lazy to go back and reason out the math this morning. But in either case think how much a woman would have to eat to maintain her body weight if she is giving birth that often. Think how much that hen no longer has to eat to produce an egg.

    When they molt they quit laying and use a lot of the nutrients that were going into eggs to grow new feathers. Different hens molt at different speeds, it’s genetic and mainly controlled by how fast the feathers fall out. Hens that lose their feathers slowly don’t have to eat as much as hens that molt quickly to replace those feathers so a drop in them eating is perfectly normal.

    Also some hens don’t start laying after the molt is over until spring, though some start as soon as the molt is over. Hens that have finished the molt and are waiting until spring don’t have to eat much at all to maintain their body.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Pfft! <rollseyes> Releasing and encasing a chicken egg compared to growing/carrying a full term human fetus?!? Hahaha!

    Chickens eat more to stay warm in cold weather too, laying or not....
    ....tho it's been freakishly warm here and the yearlings are still not laying they have not cut back on their feed consumption.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2015
  8. OrganicFarmWife

    OrganicFarmWife Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah I was wondering about that too. :D Perhaps the other poster is male...
     
  9. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    Nine months of carrying around a slow growing fetus, then in the final weeks, barely having space for your organs to function properly, then "labor" of some 12 to 24 hours duration to get liberated from this human that has colonized your body for almost a year, gimme-a-break. My hens certainly aren't going through anything like that.

    What I notice in molting is they start hard, on average, lose their appetites and lose weight, then slowly regain appetite and weight over the weeks of molt, and many of mine begin laying again right around the new year.

    Over all, the amount of feed consumption remains at a pretty constant level throughout molt and into resumption of laying.
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Come on guys. I was talking about the need for food to form the egg. That’s why laying hens eat a lot more than a rooster.
     
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