Many Hens (35+); but not many eggs...expert opinion to share?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ChicknCharm, Aug 12, 2010.

  1. ChicknCharm

    ChicknCharm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 25, 2009
    Alpine
    Hello! I have about 36 hens that just celebrated their one year birthday. But, they are not laying, we are lucky to get 5 dozen eggs a week. There have been several changes...
    We have many new hens that moved into the coop about three months ago...they all seem to get along fine. We added nestboxes and roosting bars.

    We hatched eggs this Spring and had MANY roosters, most have gone to new homes, but about 5 amorous gents remain. I have made a seperate fenced area for the cassanovas until their new owners pick them up. They do molest the ladies and chase them quite a bit. I just did this today.

    Because of the low egg production, I got food grade Diat. Earth and have sprinkled it in their evening "leftover casserole with oatmeal". Sprinkled it in the coop and in dusting spots. I was worried some bugs may be bothering them, though I have never seen mites on them.

    It is hot here, but not crazy hot. Texas hot, in the 90's.

    There are feathers everywhere and my year-olds' feathers are looking dull and scraggly. But, they are not bald or anything. Some have feathers missing from their throats...could they be molting? I thought it was the roosters messing with them.

    I am so bummed, our friends at the farmer's market have about 15 hens and get 7 dozen a week.

    Am I doing anything wrong, do I need to look for something in particular? Is it possible to feed hens TOO well? Ours are quite spoiled. We keep their food hopper full of Layena, scatter scratch and corn daily, and they get the "casserole" several times weekly. Plus, family members come by all the time with veggies and melon skins.

    Trying not to take it personally....any ideas???

    THANKS SO MUCH.
     
  2. mississippifarmboy

    mississippifarmboy collects slightly damaged strays Premium Member

    Sounds like they are molting. My older chickens are starting to look raggedy too, but it's about the time of year for it. The heat also seems to slow down the laying of some breeds. I've heard that too much corn & scratch can make hens lay less, but I've also heard the reverse. Fresh veggies are great in the summer.
    We feed layer pellets and I give a small handful of scratch in each pen in the mornings when I turn them out and again late evenings before roost time, mainly just to keep them tame and so they will come running anytime they see the treat can. In the winter I give them a bit more.
    What breeds do you have?
    maybe someone else can be more help.
     
  3. TrystInn

    TrystInn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 16, 2009
    Southern Arizona
    Sounds like you have a molt going on - they won't generally lay during those unless you really boost up their protein levels, we're talking 18% or more. I have a friend who swears by catfood to pull them out of a molt and laying again, not something I would do (I sell eggs) but might work.

    Also, what breeds are these?
     
  4. ChicknCharm

    ChicknCharm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 25, 2009
    Alpine
    We sell our eggs, too, as "veggie fed"...so cat food will not work. We did give them the game cock feed and they like munching on that...but so costly. With only a few dozen eggs to sell, we cannot justify the caviar right now.

    I am going to look up molting here and see if that is happening.

    Any ides on how to get more protein? I checked my grocery store for vegetable protein powder....but that was super expensive here (we are remote and groceries are costly).

    Thank you!

    Also, our coop is a little dirtier than usual. We do deep litter and the litter is looking a little brown. I just dusted with diat. earth and we will cover with another layer of shavings...I just never think of the hens worrying about a clean coop, since they poop everywhere. We clean bi-weekly, with disinfectant on the roost bars, the nest boxes are always clean and we even have a seperate set of nest boxes on our back porch. Our hens are outside all day, with access to all our yards. They only go in at dusk and are out again at 7:00am. Please tell me my hens aren't like my mother-in-law and want a pristine coop to lay eggs.

    Can the roosters pester them out of laying?

    Happy Wishes!
     
  5. justtoni44

    justtoni44 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 13, 2010
    oregon
    what breed?
     
  6. TrystInn

    TrystInn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 16, 2009
    Southern Arizona
    From your sig line, I'm gonna assume these are EEs. In the case of veggie fed, I'd try soy - should boost you right up.
     
  7. ChicknCharm

    ChicknCharm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 25, 2009
    Alpine
    Well, we have all kinds. We wanted chickens from every continent...help my girls learn that important geography. So, we have Japanese Bantams, Millet Fluer Bantams, Easter Eggers, Wyandottes, Silkies, Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks (Bantam and Standard), Cochins, Production Reds, Polish Buffs and Brahmas. I am probably missing someone there.

    I just got sunflower seeds to help with protein (read about that here, very helpful) and will make them oatmeal and sunflower seeds tonight. The amorous adolescent roos are quite disturbed as they are now contained behind a fence. I thought maybe they were driving the girls nuts, they are about 4.5 months old. We will count eggs here in a minute.

    Just can't figure it out, I know we will not get an egg every day from every hen, but it seems with 36 hens we should have about 20-24 daily. Does anyone know the math on that????

    THANKS AGAIN!
     
  8. mississippifarmboy

    mississippifarmboy collects slightly damaged strays Premium Member

    From my experiance you can't expect many eggs from the cochins & brahmas, I love both breeds and raise cochins, but they just aren't great layers most of the time. We get around 2 - 3 eggs a week from each of our cochin hens both standard & bantam. I can't speak at all about the other bantams because I don't know much about them. The production reds, barred rocks, easter eggers, wyandotts & orpingtons should lay better, we get an average of around 5 eggs per hen per week from these breeds, Haven't had polish or silkies for several years, but the ones I used to have were a bit less than our regular hens but better than the cochins. Every chicken is different though, I've had rocks that didn't lay well and a few rare cochins that would give at least an egg every other day. All our breeds start laying from 5 - 6 months of age and will slack off or stop laying in the heat of the summer, the coldest part of the winter and when they molt.
    I'd expect if you have roughly equal amounts of the chickens you listed to get around 15 or so eggs a day.

    If you have all good laying breeds you could expect between 20 and 30 eggs a day for 36 hens.

    This is just my opinion based on our personal flocks, everyone's milage will vary. [​IMG]
     
  9. rubyrogue

    rubyrogue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 8, 2010
    Quote:Hidden nest? I have 22 hens of laying age. It is hot here too and I get about 18 eggs a day. If they are allowed to roam I would say they could be hiding a nest somewhere. One of my coops is really good about going back to the coop to lay. The other coop I dont let girls out of the run until after 4pm so that they all lay in the boxes instead of wherever on five acres
     
  10. DaniLovesChickens

    DaniLovesChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 18, 2010
    Michigan
    I agree with rubybogue. Our chickens used to be free range and we would end up with eggs in all sorts of places, regardless of how many suitable nests we had. Especially with it being hot - I would think that the girls would rather be outside where it might be cooler.

    From our experience, I would say check under all bushes or low hanging trees. Also, anything else low to the ground where it would be dark and quiet. We had a couple that loved to lay eggs under a hauling trailer that was parked in the dirt. It was quite cool under there in the dirt.

    The brahmas definitely don't lay that well. Ours will lay for several days and then not for a week. I wouldn't trade their dorky, silly, friendly faces though. [​IMG] Some of the hens will tolerate the heat better too. I'm from Michigan, so we have a hard time deciding on breeds because we hot, very humid summers and very cold snowy winters. It can be difficult to find breeds that can handle both.

    Bantams handle the heat well. They should be laying fine. I've read chickens shouldn't molt until fall but mine always start in the summer.

    Good luck![​IMG]
     

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