My chickens haven't laid an egg in months - what's up??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mermaidgoat, Nov 15, 2010.

  1. mermaidgoat

    mermaidgoat Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 22, 2009
    Vermont
    I have a chicken mystery on which I was hoping some of you might help me shed some light.
    A little background: As of this spring, I had a very healthy flock of year-old layers (10 of them). We had some predator issues in the spring which reduced our flock to 4. In July I got 4 new girls who were a few months old. I think these girls came with an illness, because within a month of bringing them home, I had lost 2 of the new ones and 1 of my original girls. A friend of mine got 3 birds from the same place (a local-ish lady) a week or so after me, and hers seemed to be a bit sickly, as well. She also had a couple of birds get sick shortly after getting the new girls. I think we deduced that it was probably cocci and after the original incident, we lost no more birds to sickness and the health of the survivors seemed to improve. After I was sure the illness had subsided, I took 5 layers from a relative who needed to offload them. These girls are the same age as my original layers. So I now have eight 1.5 year olds and two 7 month olds.

    Here is where the mystery lies: we haven’t had a single egg since August and neither has my friend. At first I chalked it up to the stress of predation and the integration of strange birds. Then five of the girls went through a molt and they are now out of that and I have 2 in molt right now. The new birds have never laid a single egg. My friend and I are so confused. Why are we not seeing any eggs?? We were both consistantly getting eggs until the new girls were introduced (I was selling 3 dozen/week). I’ve tried keeping them penned, in case they were laying somewhere outside (they free-range during the day) but still no eggs. I’ve tried checking the boxes every few hours in case I have an egg-eater – nothing.

    Any ideas? I’m stumped.


    x-posted in Diseases
     
  2. Stevo

    Stevo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 14, 2010
    Howell, NJ
    May have gone on strike. I heard the chicken union is in hot debate with corporate over overtime LOL.

    I have no idea what could make them stop. Mine slowed down since the weather stated getting colder but I still get eggs everyday.

    Are you sure someone isn't sneaking in there helping themselves?
     
  3. suzettex5

    suzettex5 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 26, 2009
    California
    Have you done a search on this site for cocci? I am not sure, but I think it can affect the reproductive tract, but I could be way off and thinking of infectious bronchitis. Your new hens could be too young to lay, it could be moulting (which puts some hens off laying for months) or it could be the weather. Some hens stop laying or slow waaaay down in fall and winter. I have 8 month old hens who arent laying yet, so you could have some late starters too.

    What are you feeding? Breeds and ages? Maybe post something asking what diseases harm the reproductive tract?

    Sorry I wasnt much help. [​IMG]
     
  4. biddyboo

    biddyboo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 27, 2008
    Ashland, Missouri
    I'm not one of the "masters" of chickenology on this forum, but I have a couple of years' experience under my belt which have taught me a little about the mysteries of egg laying. This is what I suspect: Your seven month old pullets just have not yet matured enough to become egglayers, but probably are on the cusp of doing so. Their immaturity, coupled with the shortening of daylight and encroaching cold temps, may be holding up their egg laying, but they will probably begin some light laying in midwinter. Your 1.5's, ending their first molt with all the resulting stress on their body systems, coupled (as with the younger ones) with shortened daylight and colder temps, may not resume laying until well up in the winter or early spring, and then not as steadily as when temps warm and day lengthens with springtime's return. Don't take my word as any kind of gospel, but I've learned to be grateful for any pullet eggs when they finally arrive (usually well past the time I had assumed) and larger mature eggs from my older hens when they've revived from their fall molt and winter rest. Best wishes, and patience is the name of the game here at our Chicken Rescue Ranch:) ~G
     
  5. chickaddict

    chickaddict Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2009
    Bristol
    If you girls free-range you might want to search your property for a secret nest. I thought my girls had stopped after a couple of weeks with no eggs and no -one was molting.

    I found a secret nest full of eggs.
     
  6. Resolution

    Resolution Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hours of daylight are diminishing and its time for the hens that did lay as well as the pullets growing rapidly into adults in their last growth phase- they both need optimal nutrition. Up the % of fat and animal protein through the winter. A decent bird suet placed out every few weeks is a good place to start. Supplement with dry cat food every few days and cut back on the layer pellet. Increase millet. Agway sells Farmers' Helper products which are designed to increase reproductive health and increase laying, especially in older birds that have ceased laying altogether. It's an issue of nutritional deficiency accentuated by the stress of moving and new social mates. I'd also recommend you provide more than one feeding table . Please click on this link for more information about getting ready for winter.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010
  7. MyBlackHen

    MyBlackHen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 26, 2010
    Upstate New York
    Are you using a light to extend the shorter daylight hours? We are using a light in both the morning and evenings (they get about 16 hours of light per day) and we are getting 4-7 eggs per day from nine 6-month old chickens.
     
  8. mermaidgoat

    mermaidgoat Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 22, 2009
    Vermont
    Thank you all for your replies. You brought up some good points. I don't think anything is sneaking in - our coop is very secure (entirely lined with hardware cloth). I don't think they are laying in a secret spot, because there are no eggs even when I keep them in and these birds were loyal to their nest boxes for over a year. I suppose it could be the daylight, but this issue started this past summer, when daylight was at its longest. This all happened right after they were ill. Could there be a connection there? If so, what? The reproductive damage seems plausible, but ALL of them??

    It's also strange and worth noting, that my friend who also got (probably ill) birds from the same place I did at the same time is having this same issue. Maybe she will chime in on this thread.

    My birds get very good nutrition - they free-range and get kitchen and garden scraps along with a high protein mash. They consistantly get oatmeal and yogurt and meat scraps. I've also put baby vitamins into their water, although not for a few weeks now since I ran out.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010
  9. sotelomary

    sotelomary Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm not sure I can help you. But sometimes these mysteries remain a mystery in my opinion. I have a glw 1.5 yrs that laid only for a couple weeks and now it's been over a year that she hasn't laid. She appears healthy. The daylight, temps, etc. don't really apply for me. We have very mild winters and my other layers lay throughout the winter time. And since it's been over a year she has gone through all the seasons and different lengths of days and still no eggs.

    I have another one that hasn't laid in over 5 months and her eggs always had a small soft spot on them when she did lay.

    I've tried everything and still no eggs. [​IMG]

    Mary
     
  10. Rowtag

    Rowtag Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 18, 2009
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Having a similar issue here, only we haven't had any illness or new birds. I have just assumed our bad year for eggs is due to nature. We had a late end to winter, then the flood that came through the area back in May. They stopped laying for a few weeks during the cleanup, my run and coop were in about 3 feet of water and they spent a few nights in cages. After that we had an issue with hawks. And then we lost four birds to a fox who I have been fighting to catch/kill for close to 3 months. And now they are molting and they days are shorter. I think I might have gotten like 6 dozen eggs all year from eight hens and like 2 dozen from the two duck hens. I am just hoping spring brings better luck.
     

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