Molting blues

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by UrbanBirds, Oct 25, 2015.

  1. UrbanBirds

    UrbanBirds Out Of The Brooder

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    This happens every fall. I have about 15 laying birds and they always have a huge drop in production right at about September first. I'm used to getting up to a dozen a day.

    I haven't seen an egg in 3 days!

    But they still want to eat, of course!

    I can't bare to consider, ahem, purchasing eggs. But my family is starting to get impatient.

    I have a timer light going like they say to do. It comes on about 3 hours before dawn and about 3 hours before dusk. Doesn't seem to help.

    I wonder if part of it is where I live. I'm on the gulf coast of Florida. When I lived in Maryland, I don't remember the eggs drying up so badly.

    Anyone else suffering though really bad molts?
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Yep. I've been buying eggs from Costco. I have three teenage boys who love pig and eggs for breakfast, so we gotta have them.

    I finally broke down and bought 4 layers yesterday. They're this year's birds so they should lay through the winter. Got 2 eggs today---yippee!

    My young birds have about 2 months until they start laying.

    I hate buying eggs and chicken feed.
     
  3. UrbanBirds

    UrbanBirds Out Of The Brooder

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    Haha. The rest of the year I'm eating eggs for dinner, I have so many.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My yearlings have been on extra light since September and are up to 14+ hours now....it didn't keep most of them from molting.
    Luckily the pullets are still laying pretty well.
     
  5. 7littlegirls

    7littlegirls Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm down to 1-3 eggs a day from 6 laying. I still have one that did not lay her first egg. I believe the girls are molting, finding feather all over but not the feather pillow exploding experience. My EE is one that gives me an egg everday even with molting. My 2 newbies that I got beginning of April are slightly molting and have stopped laying. [​IMG]
     
  6. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Same here.

    I'm not even sure how many hens I have at the moment but definitely in the region of 15. Plus some young pullets that are due to (hopefully) come into lay in a month or so and more young chicks (5 weeks old) and far too many cockerels that need to go the journey soon [​IMG].... all free ranging together. I've been down to 2 eggs a day for the past few days but got a big fat zilch yesterday.
    The only 2 girls producing are my wonderful reliable broodies Tasha (an araucana cross) and Frances (a bantam cochin/silkie cross)....who raise chicks all summer and lay me eggs through the winter.... you really can't ask for more from a hen.... I love these girls! I don't begrudge them having a day off together yesterday as long as they don't make a habit of it.[​IMG]

    Most of the girls and guys are looking a right scruffy state though!

    It's going to be coq au vin on the menu instead of omelettes soon!
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Urbanbirds, how old are your hens? That might have something to do with it though zero for three days sounds pretty dramatic. When was their last molt?

    I don’t quite understand your timer, maybe a typo. “3 hours before dawn and about 3 hours before dusk”. Do they ever go out? When did you start the extra lights?

    Older hens normally molt when the days get shorter and quit laying but first year pullets will often skip the molt and lay throughout the winter. I normally have some pullets laying but like Donrae my timing is off this year. I’m still a month or more off for the pullets.

    I had a broody hen molt while raising her chicks late summer/early fall so she has finished the molt and is back to laying. That’s happened before, I expect her to lay pretty well throughout winter. Got to love those broody hens. I have another that hasn’t started the molt yet so I’m still getting two eggs most days but I think that will drop soon.

    It’s certainly possible they are all molting and quit laying even with the extra lights. That’s what I really suspect. But you might consider a few other things. Other than the molt the most common cause for a drop in production is that hens are hiding nests from you. I don’t know if that is a possibility or not the way you manage yours.

    The other possibility is that something is getting the eggs. Most things that eat eggs leave evidence but a few things don’t. A snake swallows eggs whole and leaves no trace, but a snake doesn’t visit every day. It takes some eggs and crawls off to digest them, waiting a few days to come back. Since it is every day I doubt it’s a snake. A canine like a dog, fox, or coyote will swallow eggs whole, not leaving a trace. Coyotes and foxes are more likely to be interested in the chickens more than the eggs, but do you have a pet dog that has learned the egg song is an invitation to a snack? A human normally leaves no trace either.

    I really think it’s the molt, it usually is in the northern hemisphere this time of year. If they started two months ago it may not be that long before some of them crank back up. Good luck!
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I was wondering about this....I haven't had an older hen go broody late in the year before, but this year my cuckoo Marans did. Not really late-late, but late enough she molted while raising the chicks. Since she was hatched in May of 14, I didn't expect to get eggs from her this winter, but she's still faithfully laying. I thought it may just be a fluke and I'd only get a few weeks' worth, but sounds like in your experience they go ahead an lay right through....that would be wonderful!
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Aart think about your lighting regimen. One of our friends in Pennsylvania provides 14 hours of light yet her older hens generally molt. Her longest day is about 15 hours. That one hour drop in daylight seems to be enough to trigger a molt.
     

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