Molting/laying

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by eloisep13, Aug 9, 2014.

  1. eloisep13

    eloisep13 New Egg

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    My white leghorns and reds have laid great for over a year. I'm doing anything differently but now they have really slowed down. They have been molting but I think they're through. Does their age have anything to do with it?
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    Always. Chickens can lay eggs for 10 years or more. They lay like gangbusters from about 20 weeks and go non-stop till their second autumn (for most breeds). Then they'll molt each and every autumn (or late summer) thereafter. It takes a lot of protein to make feathers that are over 90% and to make eggs and they can't do both. Besides, they need the break for their reproductive tract to regenerate itself.
    Each year they'll take a longer break during and after the molt. But if they haven't started laying shortly after they have completed growing their new winter coat, they'll definitely start up again as days lengthen at the end of winter (provided they're healthy and well fed)

    At this time, it's a good idea to switch the flock to a slightly higher protein grower feed. Since they're not producing egg shells, they really shouldn't be getting 4% dietary calcium in the layer feed. You can provide oyster shell in a separate container for those still laying.
    IMO, people that continue to feed layer year round are unknowingly shortening the life of their birds.
     
  3. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    Hello there and welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    Molting takes a lot of energy away from the birds. Feathers are made up of 85% protein. So when bird is molting, generally they stop laying as a lot of protein goes into feather making and little is left over for egg laying, although some birds will lay occasionally during a molt. Birds can become very tired, lethargic and shy during a heavy molt.

    Molting is also controlled by hormones. So even after the molting is finished, their hormones may not be telling them to start back up on laying yet. Especially if they need to replace a lot of vitamins, minerals, amino acids ect...from having gone through a heavy molt.

    So give them time and they should get back to laying soon. :)
     
  4. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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  5. Mountain Peeps

    Mountain Peeps Change is inevitable, like the seasons Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC! Please make yourself at home and we are here to help.

    Molting happens usually once a year. Feathers take up 85% protein so you can't expect much from your birds during this rough process. Give them foods with extra protein including peas, quinoa, meat, mealworms and oatmeal.

    Like Two Crows said, they probably won't start laying again for a bit. Their bodies are still getting over the molt.

    Chickens molt differently. A way to tell which hens are your best layers is after their first molt. Your best producing hens will molt late and fast while poorer produces start early and take a long time.
     
  6. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    Welcome to BYC! Glad you decided to join our flock. Moulting is definitely the cause of their slow laying and they should begin to pick up again at some point. Please feel free to ask any other questions you may have. We are here to help in any way we can. Good luck with your hens laying again.
     
  7. HugHess

    HugHess Chickrack Addict

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    Hi EloiseP,

    Welcome to BYC!
    I am new here as well, and am learning like gang-busters, your thread included (thanks).
    Best wishes for a speedy molting recovery for your ladies so as they can get back to egg-laying!
     
  8. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

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    If you really need the eggs - you could start a younger flock for that purpose to fill in the down time of the older girls.
     
  9. Whovian

    Whovian Out Of The Brooder

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    My three Americaunas stopped laying a couple of weeks ago due to molt. Is grower feed more protein than layer? I give them black oil sunflower seeds as treats and meal worms and they free-range for a little bit every day, bu I think they may need a change in feed for the molt.
     
  10. Xiao Casa

    Xiao Casa Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome to BackYardChickens!! [​IMG] Grower feed is higher protein than layer, many of them contain about 18-20% protein while layer feed is more like 16-19%. You can certainly change feed if you would like, or you can simply give them protein supplements like mealworms, which in fact you are already doing! If you switch to grower feed, be sure you also provide oyster shell for supplementary calcium; they will need it when they start laying again!
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014

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