Molting and Egg Laying and Stress?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Swedishfish55, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. Swedishfish55

    Swedishfish55 New Egg

    Aug 30, 2013
    Hello Chicken Lovers, so unfortunately I feel like our backyard chicken adventure has not totally panned out as I had hope. We finally got the mites away (Amen!) that was a long awful process. I feel like we got back on track for a few weeks and now again no eggs. First off about 10 days ago I heard a lot of commotion outside near the coop at 4 am and sadly there was a giant raccoon that had gotten one of our sweet gals. I fended him off and got the rest of the gals back where they belong and the door secured. Second off 3-4 (of my now 7 birds) are either molting or losing feathers from the stress of the predator last week. We have placed a light in their coop that comes on around 2am and off at 6:45am and for the rest of the day they are free roaming in our yard (with a fence). We have not had any eggs now for several weeks and I am just not sure how long this should go on. I have checked around the yard to see if for some reason they were laying somewhere else rather than the nesting boxes and no luck. Any advice on what I can do. I have even placed golf balls in the nesting boxes again to encourage egg laying there but its not working. All my birds are 2 1/2 or younger and we expected that we would be getting at least 4-5 eggs a day. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    You'll get eggs from most breeds of pullets through the first winter no matter what. The second autumn and every one thereafter, they will molt. You will get no eggs until they completely grow their new winter coat.
    The 2 AM light will do nothing while they are molting.
    It is even a little early if they aren't molting. It's likely getting dark about 5 PM where you are. 12-14 hours is plenty.
    Also it's better to slowly increase light to simulate naturally increasing day length.
    A predator attack will definitely stress them enough to stop laying for a while. It won't induce molt.
    I had a severe dog attack and didn't get an egg from that flock of 10 layers for 2 months.
    I used to add light but don't any more since it's most effective if all birds are the same age. Going into autumn I had 21 laying age birds and between predator attacks, molting and some being POL pullets I was down to 2 or 3 a day. One day I got none.
    If one wants uninterrupted laying they would be best to start a new flock every 2 years. Otherwise, let them take their break and when days start getting longer they will kick in again.

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