My healthy, well-fed hens have stopped laying for 2+ months. It's a mystery, help me solve it?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by wildlifezone, Oct 12, 2013.

  1. wildlifezone

    wildlifezone New Egg

    Oct 12, 2013
    I have five 2.5 year old hens (Buffs, a RIR mutt, Wellsummer, Polish banty) four 7 month old hens (2 Aracuanas, Brahma, Barred rock), one rooster (Aracuana) , and they are all free-ranging during the day, coop at night. All but my 2 Buffs have stopped laying. They tapered off to zero about 8 weeks ago - except for the Buffs, who are the heaviest of the gals.

    They are healthy, not molting, no feather loss, not fighting, they are active and spend most days out of the coop. I have searched our 1.5 acres and watched them, they aren't laying out of sight.

    The eggs produced by the Buffs are just fine, and they all eat the same stuff. We give them 'balanced nutrition' scratch, which they only eat when nothing else is available because they are spoiled, so we mix it in with the tasty stuff so they have to eat some. They don't like the scratch with oyster shell, and even when they do eat the scratch they leave the oyster shell ( or we crush up their own eggshells, and they avoid those too.) Every day we give them corn, peas, (unsalted) raw sunflower seeds, brown rice, and supplement with other things like melon, papaya, tomatoes, grapes, blueberries, leafy greens, etc. They eat better than I do.

    We've been feeding the adults the same for 2 years and they've all laid regularly until this summer. It got pretty hot for a while, so we figured that was why they stopped. But then it cooled, and they didn't start up again.

    In April we got the new chicks, and they keep to themselves unless feeding from a mutual spot. We house them separately with a common fence between coops so they see and hear each other. Although they are full grown and a couple are bigger than the older gals, they are still lowest on the pecking order. They are 7 months old, fat and healthy, but no sign of laying yet.

    Would having these new girls somehow interrupt laying? I'm doubtful, but anything is possible. The rooster protects and watches over them all, laying or no.

    Also, during the heat of the summer, we had an outbreak of stick-tight fleas, thanks to the squirrels and rats who raid the coop. We got rid of the fleas using vaseline on the hens, and diatomaceous earth in the coop, and encouraged our dogs to catch more rats and squirrels. The dogs watch over the hens, who are totally accustomed to them. (Don't worry, dog lovers, our dogs sleep on sofas and our beds, too, and live inside more than out, they are spoiled too.) We still have rodents, but managed to get rid of some of the rats.

    I have friends who suffer more rats and squirrels than we do, and their hens are still laying.

    We are stymied. Any suggestions?
  2. cackleberrycam

    cackleberrycam Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 28, 2013
    They might be taking time off to build up body reseves.[​IMG]
  3. raro

    raro Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 9, 2010
    Is it possible they have found a new place to lay? Or is it possible you have other predators (snakes?) that are eating the eggs?
  4. Sandstorm495

    Sandstorm495 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 2, 2012
    Darwin, Australia
    Sometimes, hens just take a break for a bit. No need to worry at all. Or else, like raro suggested, they have chosen a different egg-laying place.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Could just be the reduction of daylight in combination with their age.

    You can use a light on a timer that comes on earlier and earlier in the morning until they are getting 12 hours of light a day and let the natural evening dusk and sunset still control their going to roost.
  6. so lucky

    so lucky Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 31, 2011
    SE Missouri
    My four have stopped laying, too. One is in active molt, the other three are just uninspired, I guess. I'm going to put a light in their coop this week, hoping that will help.
  7. aldarita

    aldarita Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 2, 2012
    Brenham TX
    My neighbor and I have had a reduction in egg laying from our hens too. I have two or three that are molting but the others aren't. I used to have an average of 7 eggs a day out of 9 hens, now I am just getting 2 or 3.
    I had a fecal test done last week and came back positive for round worms (they free range everyday in an acre of fenced land). I am going to worm them this week for the first time (they are 18 months old) hopefully this will help with the laying.
    If you can have them tested for worms, you should do it, maybe that is the reason why they are not laying since they are not molting and otherwise seem to be healthy.
    Hope this helps
  8. wildlifezone

    wildlifezone New Egg

    Oct 12, 2013
    Thanks all. I hadn't though of internal parasites, that could be part of the problem. I know they aren't laying elsewhere. My boyfriend and I are both wildlife biologists, so we'd know if another predator was raiding their coop, since few critters enter our property without us eventually finding out. I'll let you know if de-worming helps...
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013

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