My chickens haven't laid in months. What have I done?

guinea fowl galore

10 Years
May 12, 2009
First things first, I have about 50 chickens now. 14 laying. They started laying around spring last year (I'm in Australia so about september/October) we started with one egg and had another chicken join in laying every 1-2 days so in no time we were getting a dozen eggs every day.
Now, This started MONTHS ago. so far back I can't even remember now what happened, all i know is that we are getting TWO eggs a day for the past 5-6 months. and now this past week we haven't had any. I know chickens stop laying when they moult and my chickens have moulted. they started moulting quite a while after they stopped laying and they finished moulting ages ago with only one chicken left looking scrageldy now. They all look reasonably happy and healthy. what could this possibly be.
Also I have noticed that the chickens are eating feathers. they have all been moulting and I haven't seen a single feather anywhere. then one time when I was in the run one of the chickens flew up onto a roost and lost a feather. As soon as it hit the ground ALL the chickens dived for it, jumping over each other trying to get to this feather, which lasted about .10 of a second before being gobbled up.
What are you feeding them? I have a chicken or two that sorta likes feathers, but they don't go crazy for them. My first thought is they don't have enough protein. I know when I feed too many table scraps my chickens don't lay as well.
I feed them a mix between organic laying mash and a laying grain mix. I have also started feeding them HEAPS of black sunflower seeds since about a month ago.
This makes me very sad but they don't free range anymore as our chickens don't live where we do at the moment and I only go there once a day. so if the do get let out it's usually only for about half an hour to an hour.
I hate not being able to look after them to my best abilities, it makes me so depressed.
I've only started feeding them a few scraps recently. not very many at all though.
I wonder if your chickens have discovered how yummy eggs are? If they go crazy over a feather, I wonder if they have also sampled the eggs? Their protein requirements go up when they are growing new feathers (hence the sunflower seeds). Maybe try putting a flock block to avert boredom.
Another thought...if you aren't on site, is it possible that someone else could be gathering your eggs? I hope not.
Good luck, I hope it all balances out for you and your chickens.
Speaking of egg gathering, snakes can wipe out a large number of eggs. I found a chicken snake that was FULL of eggs - you could see the individual bumps inside the snake where the eggs were.
When C.C. my Australorp molted this winter she was moody and very stand-offish. (She actually growled at us!) It was really sad all she wanted to do is sit on the freezer in the laundry room all by herself.

She didn't lay eggs for a couple of months. I gave her lots of yogurt, scrambled eggs, and boss along with the layer feed she normally eats. They need all the extra protein to help their body recover. She started squatting again just before she started laying again. Hope this helps.

BTW she's back to normal now- sweet and snuggily!
I don't think They are eating them because the straw would be all soggy and get stinky.
and me coops are snake proof. Here, any snake that would eat eggs would also eat chicken
I really don't think people would be taking the eggs. I mean I can't completely rule that out But I very much doubt it. the weather here is varying a lot. It rained for months, now it's sunny raining occasionally ( once a week ) but my chickens should be used to wet weather. It's the second last day of autumn but not getting too cold yet, we did have a bit of a cold snap though a few weeks ago.
Sorry for your troubles. Hopefully you can be with them more soon.

I would revisit the protein level as KimberlyJ asked about.

I feed my hens 20% protein pellets (I go with pellets so when they spill them they can still pick them up and eat them so there is less waste-mash is great if they don't spill). The scratch grains are pretty low in protein so your girls may not be getting enough protein depending on the amounts. Check your bag's nutrition info and do a calculation. Feathers are really high in protein so that's why I am going back to that.

I wouldn't totally discount an egg eater, either. Maybe they discovered how to knock an egg out of the nest to the floor to crack it then it gets gobbled up.

Hens may go off lay if they don't feel safe and secure. Are they being harassed when you are away or another reason why their surrounding would make them feel nervous or wary?

If you could spare a day and just go out and hang out and watch their behaviours that might give you some important information.
Not sure how else to help, but good luck!

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