Major stress then no eggs

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by mbodamer, Nov 15, 2019.

  1. mbodamer

    mbodamer In the Brooder

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    Hello,
    This is a very sad story but a very valuable lesson I learned.

    So I have had my chickens for almost 2 years now. I built an automatic watering system for them which consisted of a 55 gallon drum in the rafters of the coop roof and a pvc pipe that comes down and goes to horizontal nipples. This has worked well for over a year.

    I recently got rabbits and was sick of manually changing water bottles so I got some tubing and rabbit nipples and tapped into my chicken waterer. The problem is I turned off the chicken water valve to plumb in the rabbit nipples. When I was done I turned on the rabbit nipples to test them and I forgot to turn the chicken nipples back on.

    I check my chickens daily. They come out of the coop and run every day and have free range in the yard. I spend time with them and I did not see any signs of an issue and their water was left off for some time. Eventually one of my hens was acting extremely weird and lethargic and then it was discovered the water was turned off and I had been dehydrating them!!!

    I immediately called the vet and we worked on the sick hen for a few days but unfortunately she was too far gone and I lost her. The rest of the hens have survived my mistake, thankfully.

    Now it has been about 2-3 weeks since the incident and I have gotten only 2 eggs from 11 hens in that time. I totally understand that a stressfull situation will cause them to stop laying. To top it off, my hens had never molted before and I think this event triggered or as bad luck would have it they decided to molt right after this event.

    So they have recovered from the molt but I am not getting any eggs.

    Did I harm them beyond recovery that they simply will not start laying again or is it just all part of the recovery process and the major stress they went through that they need more time? will they start laying again???

    I feel so terrible I put them through it but it has taught me a valuable lesson and I now have a routine of touching the nipples to ensure water is flowing and they aren't clogged or out of water.

    Thanks for any advice.
     
    ValerieJ and glassdragonfly like this.
  2. SueT

    SueT Crossing the Road

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    Aside from the dehydration thing, it is normal for 2 yr old hens to molt in the fall and stop laying till spring. They usually lay thru their first winter but not thru subsequent winters.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Ditto Dat^^^
    Sorry for your loss.
    Curious, @mbodamer how you keep your watering system from freezing?
    Would love to see some pics of it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2019
  4. Acre4Me

    Acre4Me Crowing

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    They are alive, and now hydrated, so I think they will lay again. But, it is that time of year for molting, and the stress may have kicked that into high gear. That, in addition to less light, will affect their laying.

    my kid was the quail keeper, and we had a few cages of quail. As parent I would verify water got refreshed/cleaned/changed. But, as is life, occasionally I was late on checking that the water task was complete and they were without water for up to 24 hours a couple of times. Yes, the quail stopped laying for a few days bc they didn’t have enough water to keep the egg laying operation moving as fast as usual. And yes, the kid improved on their animal care skills and keeping all animals watered.

    your system sounds great! What a good idea! Sounds like you found one main weak point (human error, as usual), but now have a habit to keep it in check!
     
    trumpeting_angel likes this.
  5. mbodamer

    mbodamer In the Brooder

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    Oh that explains a lot. I thought they slowed down during winter but did not stop laying. Last year I went from about 12 a day to about 5-6 so I was expecting the same this time. Good to learn and now know that its normal for it to stop in winter.

    Also here is part of my setup. The barrels are above the actual coop in the rafters. I have a small pond pump that transfers water from barrel 2 to barrel 1. Then gravity causes barrel 1 to equalize and push water through the looped system refilling barrel 2. So I have a constant circulation of water. To avoid freezing I have that heated cable that you put on your roof to melt snow wrapped all around the pipes (except in the chicken run where the nipples are). I also have tank heater in barrel 2 so warm water is pumped into barrel 1 and then it gravity forces the water down through the system and cold water reenters barrel 2 to get heated and transferred back to barrel 1. 20190809_154619.jpg 20190809_154654.jpg
     
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  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Nice concise explanation, thanks.
    I was going to do something similar(heater and recirc) but decided it was too complicated for the number of birds and space I have.
     
  7. RoyalChick

    RoyalChick Chirping

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    Sorry about your hen hopefully all is well with the others now. I am thinking of creating a similar watering system fed from a rain barrel. I want to use side-mounted nipples in PVC pipe coming off the barrel. My question is, how far apart should the nipples be? And how many nipples do I need for 25 chickens?
    I currently only have 4 chickens and they use a 5 gallon bucket with 4 side mounted nipples. It comes from Rent-a-Coop and it says it is suitable for 30 chickens - but that seems a lot of chickens for just 4 nipples.
    Thanks for any ideas!
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Do another bucket...harder to keep pipe thawed, unless you want to copy the system explained in post #5 of this thread.
     
  9. RoyalChick

    RoyalChick Chirping

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    Yes, that is exactly what I was thinking - something like the set-up in post #5 of this thread. I am just not sure how far apart to put the nipples and how many I need for about 25 laying hens. Thanks.
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Not really sure on how many...have seen anywhere from 3-8 birds per nipple.
    I would suggest, and guessing really, about 4-6 inches apart for spacing.
     

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