Little advice needed please.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by brothers, Sep 8, 2014.

  1. brothers

    brothers Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello folks, As per normal my Buffs egg production slowed down in the winter.As spring approached they moulted and we were down to about 4 eggs a week from 12 layers,They seemed to get through the moult OK and by mid june we were back up to 4-7 eggs a day.But since mid July they all started moulting again and now we get maybe 2 eggs A WEEK!! I have done everything I can think of to up their protein to help them along,but nothing works.I aint feeding them for nothing.They are only 1.5 years old.Whats going on with my flock?They seem happy and healthy.They just wont produce eggs and seem to be constantly moulting since around March?!? Please help,what can we do so I dont have to slaughter them and start all over again? Thanks Brothers.
     
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Some chickens go through what I call a mini-molt in the nine month old range, but I've had just a few birds over the years that did. The first adult molt comes around the 18 month old range, which sounds like what your birds are doing now (common this time of year).

    Please give more information. What are you feeding them? Have you checked well for mites? Have you checked for egg eating or an egg eating predator? Do these birds free range, and could therefore be hiding eggs on you, or are they penned? Have they ever been wormed?

    Lots of questions, but I'd hate for you to slaughter them too, especially if their slack off isn't their fault.
     
  3. brothers

    brothers Out Of The Brooder

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    Ok,thanks for the reply.

    We feed them "Lay Pellets" from out local Farm Supply store.They are penned.Although we are constantly adding sticks,leaves and lawn clippings for them to rummage through.Some of the Hens have bare skin backs.We used to keep 2 roosters with them but we kicked one trouble maker out last fall.Earl (our resident Rooster) hasnt been seen mounting any of the ladies since,but they still havnt grown their feathers back?I have checked a few of the hens closely for parasites and didnt notice any at all.I know they are moulting because the run and hen house is full of feathers.But it has been since early spring.
    I dont want to replace them.But I cant feed them for nothing either.We only really got 3 months or so of good egg laying (7-10 a day from a dozen birds).Then it was winter 4-5 a day,then this crazy lull since about March!

    Is their something I could be feeding them to speed up this process? I have tried putting them back on "grower pellets" Mixing in smashed up dry cat food,and they do get our table scraps.

    Thanks so much.
    Brothers
     
  4. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Things I would try:

    1) Up their protein. Find the highest protein feed you can or add treats that are high in protein. BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds) are a good protein booster, a bit on the pricey side. You can get them cheaper by using the kind sold in the wild bird feed section of feedstores.
    2) If possible, gather eggs several times a day for a week or so. If you have an egg eating predator this should confirm whether you are losing eggs to one. Here, snakes are bad about it.
    3) Check for mites again. Best way I've found to definitely confirm mites is to arm yourself with a good flashlight and go in the coop at night. Select a hen and check her closely around her vent, under her wings and under her neck feathers; repeat with another hen. The mites could be black, red or white.
    4) Worm them! Use a broad spectrum wormer, not that Wazine stuff which I personally feel is about useless. Don't use Ivermectin to worm while they are in a molt, as it is believed by some to cause feather deformities when used during a molt. My personal preference is Valbazen (albendazole).

    Something is going on with your hens, but I get the feeling it's not their fault.

    By the way, it's not all that unusual for a rooster not to attempt mating during molts. Roosters can sense when a hen is incapable of producing offspring and normally won't waste his time with a molting, non-laying hen. This is also why you will typically see more back damage in hens that are your best layers. Roosters know which ones are the best, don't ask me how.
     
  5. Cheryl1948

    Cheryl1948 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My girls are beginning to molt also. Mine are also in a huge pen area. They get mealworms every day, plus a lot of greens, fruits, turkey, scrambled eggs, sometimes a bag of crickets. It was recommended I feed them Nutrena Featherfixer during this time also. It is high in protein and also on the bag it indicates it helps prevent mites. After their molt I plan to mix this in with their Layena pellets to help with mites all year. I read that's ok.
     
  6. brothers

    brothers Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the reply's!,

    I have looked and looked,I cant find any signs of mites on the ladies.I am going to up their protein intake and hope for the best.

    Thanks again everyone.
     
  7. brothers

    brothers Out Of The Brooder

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    Last night I checked each on eof our hen's.No signs of mites.I suppose we are just dealing with another untimely moult.I will be uping their protein and providing them with some light at night to bring their total light hours to 14.

    Thanks for your input.

    Brothers
     
  8. Cheryl1948

    Cheryl1948 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I must have missed something somewhere. How does adding light hours help with molting? Just asking.
     
  9. brothers

    brothers Out Of The Brooder

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    Oh,I dont believe it does. I have just been told to ensure 14hrs of light for maximum egg production.
     
  10. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    If you are keeping chickens just for the eggs, then adding light fools their bodies into laying during the time of year (winter) when a lot of breeds would slack off. The downside to that is that chickens kept under lighting tend to go into hen-o-pause at a younger age and must be replaced.

    I've never used lighting to control their natural cycle. When I first started keeping chickens I decided to go with a breed - brahmas - that are known for good winter laying instead. I have hens that are six and a half years old, still providing a few eggs a piece each week. It all comes down to what you are keeping chickens for - pets, egg production or a combination of the two.
     

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