My big black/gold EE has all but stopped laying

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by HHandbasket, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    Big Bertha is 10 months old. She is not molting, does not seem sick in any way, has not displayed any symptoms of lethargy, continues to dig in the dirt and forage, etc. I've seen her at the feeder and at the waterer, and she seems otherwise perfectly normal. Three things, however, are concerning:

    1) She suddenly and without fanfare "acquiesced" her position as flock leader to Lola, another EE. Lola has always laid in her own area separate from the rest of the layers (the rest were all using just 1 nest), and now Lola has stopped using "her" nest and is laying in the nest with everybody else, where Bertha had been laying.

    2) Her egg production has tapered off over a few weeks. She went from laying 5-6 eggs a week to laying 4-5 eggs, then 3 eggs (1 every other day), only 2 eggs last week, and only 1 this week (Monday) and nothing since. That is the only egg she has laid in the last 6 days. She is also no longer squatting at all. I caught up with her today and put my hand over her saddle area, and she has always squatted for me since she started laying in October. All of a sudden this month, though, nothing.

    3) She has stopped visiting the oyster shell tray completely and is not coming for treats, though she has never been much for "human food" anyway. She does come for scratch, though, and eats it rather vigorously, as does everyone in the flock.

    Nobody else's egg production/laying has slowed down. Someone told me they sometimes molt around 10 months--could she be getting ready to molt? In the middle of winter??? It is not a particularly harsh winter here... I am in northern California, and we sometimes dip into the low 30s at night but that's about as cold as it gets. They have an open-air coop with an attached playhouse where they can go for warmth when it gets too cold (though they rarely use it except for a place to play and scratch around for stuff in the ground).

    Could the slowing down in laying have anything to do with the shift in hierarchy? She doesn't seem to mind not being in charge and there wasn't any fighting over it. For a long time, she and Lola were the only ones laying, and now we are up to five laying (light brahma just laid her first egg today). Just all of a sudden, Lola seems to be the Queen and there is an obvious difference in pecking order.

    Thanks for the insight of you more experienced chickeneers!
     
  2. simpsoncj

    simpsoncj Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't have an answer for you, but I thought I would post a reply in order to bump you up the list. It is interesting and I hope others will chime in!
    CJ
     
  3. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    Well, it has now been a week since Bertha has laid an egg. She still seems otherwise fine, foraging in the yard for weeds and bugs, eating and drinking, poop looks fine. Just no squatting and no eggs. Oh, and her comb/face have lightened, are still pink and healthy looking, just not red like they were.

    Do they take a break in laying sometimes? She started laying the first week of October, produced 4-5 eggs a week the first 3 weeks or so and has been producing consistently 5 to 6 eggs every week since then until January. She produced about 10 eggs for the whole month, with her last egg laid early in the morning on January 24th.

    Any ideas? Should I separate her and medicate her? We decided to put vitamins/electrolytes in the chickens' waterers, just in case and to help boost everybody's winter immunities anyway.

    Edited for typos.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2011
  4. dsqard

    dsqard Crazy "L" Farms

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    I am in a similar situation. I have a black Ameraucana pullet about the same age as yours. She was my second chicken to start laying back in November and was a very regular layer. She hasn't changed in the pecking order but I don't think I have seen an egg out of her in over two weeks. She is not acting sick, is eating just fine and is spunky as ever so I haven't been too concerned. I am chalking it up to the winter cold and short days and hoping that production will pick up. The only other thing that has occured to me is that her eggs might be lighter in color now and she has been laying but I don't think so. I would say, don't worry too much as long as she is not showing any signs of being sick.
     
  5. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Chances are, she's getting ready to molt. The "symptoms" you are seeing would coincide with a molt - slow laying to a complete stop, pale comb, cranky (not wanting to be mated), etc. I would not medicate her if she's acting normally.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2011
  6. mstricer

    mstricer Overrun With Chickens

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    I agree with Happy Chooks. Sometimes you can't even tell they are molting. I hope you don't think as I did? You walk into the coop to nothing but feathers and bald birds roosting and cold. Most of my girls I couldn't even tell. It just look like oh my your feathers are looking marvie, I imagined being able to gather piles of feathers to stuff a pillow what a silly girl I was.
     
  7. BethieofVA

    BethieofVA Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Both of EE's have stopped laying and are molting. They too are the same age as yours. I don't expect to see anymore eggs till spring.
     
  8. EssexGirl

    EssexGirl Out Of The Brooder

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    I have an EE that's just about 9 months old and she stopped laying some time over Christmas when we were away. She is eating and drinking and taking part in all the chickeny goings-on, and I really didn't expect any of my hens to molt this early, but I guess she'll just start again when she's good and ready and not before. As long as she seems healthy, I'm not panicking. Much.
     
  9. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    She still seems normal/healthy. Y'all are probably right about her being ready to go into molt. She's about the right age for it from what I've read.

    Thanks to all for your responses. [​IMG] (I do miss her pretty green eggs in the basket, tho.)
     

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