My hens aren't laying. They aren't molting. Advice?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by magistradomina, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. magistradomina

    magistradomina Songster

    Mar 6, 2010
    Where I live.
    We have 15 hens in an 8 ft. by 8 ft. coop with a 16 ft. by 16 ft. run. We also have a rooster but he is seperated from the hens. They are all Australorps and 18 months old. We were getting 10 eggs a day in December-January. Now we are only getting 4-7 eggs a day. They don't appear to be broody or eggbound. They should have finished molting in January, but 3 of the hens do not have all their feathers back. They all appear healthy except for the hens missing feathers. We have a very dominent hen who lays eggs and acts like a rooster and even hops on the hens back.

    Maybe she's putting to much stress on the hens? I was also wondering if possibly they might be sick. Please ask questions 'cause I might be able to guess the answer if you remind me of something I didn't do. Thanks in advance! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
  2. hensonly

    hensonly Songster

    May 15, 2008
    upstate NY
    Hens lay or not according to the length of the day. Mine slowed way down over the winter, are just now beginning to pick up. I have eight hens and have been getting an average of one egg a day. If I got two in one day, there would be none the next day. Today, for the first time, we had three at once.

    I didn't do the math, but your hens should have a minimum of four square feet of space per bird, ten square feet each if they are confined indoors other than overnight, though it sounds like yours have access to outside. I assume you have one nest box per four hens - my roosters were eating my eggs until we got the nest boxes and they are too small for the roos to get into and too high for them to do more than peer in (my hens started laying at four months, I didn't expect to need nest boxes that soon!).

    I don't know where you are geographically, but if you're not finding bits of broken shell indicating egg eating, it's probably just a bit too soon for your girls. They should pick up soon. Is this their first laying season? You don't say how old they are. If you only have one roo with that many girls, why is he separated? The lack of feathers on the backs may well be due to the bossy hen jumping on them. If you put the roo in with them, he might break off more feathers, or he might be more gentle - no way to tell unless you try it, that's up to you. I'm not sure why you keep him separate, but it shouldn't have anything to do with the hens laying or not.

    Others may have more suggestions in terms of your girls needing to be wormed or something of that sort.

    Good luck!
  3. magistradomina

    magistradomina Songster

    Mar 6, 2010
    Where I live.
    This is the hens 2nd laying "season." They are 18 months old. We have six nest boxes so I don't think that's the problem. We are in Missouri and the weather is pretty crazy here so I don't know if maybe that's the problem or not. The reason the roo is seperated is because the hens were loosing all their feathers because of him. (He is a very aggresive mater. [​IMG] ) We feed our hens the Homestead brand of chicken feed. I noticed that the shells on the 5 eggs I got today were kind of thin. Maybe they're not getting enough calcium. Thanks for your advice! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
  4. Qi Chicken

    Qi Chicken Songster

    Jul 3, 2009
    Sorry, I'm not sure. We are having the same issue. We were getting about 8-10 eggs per day from our 13 hens. All through the winter! The last few days we have gotten only 3-4. Crazy!!! The weather is warmer, the days are longer, don't know why! Hope you get some answers soon. We let ours free range and now that the snow has melted they are outside more again. Maybe they are laying in the grass somewhere? Don't know.
  5. magistradomina

    magistradomina Songster

    Mar 6, 2010
    Where I live.
    I just had a thought. When I turned on the heat lamp 24/7 in December- mid February, we got 10 eggs a day. It got a little warmer in late February and I turned off the heat lamp completelly and now we are only getting 3-4 eggs. Maybe they're not warm enough. It's around 30 degrees with a wind chill of 17 degrees. Is that too cold? Should I turn on the heat lamp at night? I am hoping an old timer comes through here and offers me advice! Thanks again! [​IMG]
  6. tinychicky

    tinychicky Songster

    Mar 24, 2010
    Hollis, New Hampshire
    do they have enough light? they need at least 14 hours of light a day to lay. and yes, you should probably turn on the heat lamp.
  7. Qi Chicken

    Qi Chicken Songster

    Jul 3, 2009
    Yes, I thought of that too. But if anything, I don't think it is the warmth factor, I think it is the light. We live in Iowa and turned the red heat lamp on only sporadically during the winter. In fact we only turned it on when it was more than 10 degrees below zero at night. So maybe 20 days or so total? Even with the light OUT we got more than 5 eggs a day. But when it was on, it is true, we often got more than 10.

    I think, hope, it is a period of adjustment for them. Ours will be a year old on April 5th if that makes any difference. We have a mixture of hens, you can read which ones in my sig line, but again we always got more eggs than this even with the light out and fewer than 14 hours of daylight. These chickens are crazy critters. We do have two broodies and they may be scaring the other chickens so they are not laying in the nest boxes. We have 4 boxes for 13 hens.
  8. LaurelRidgeDreams

    LaurelRidgeDreams Songster

    Jan 23, 2010
    Mountains of NC
    We used no supplemental heat or light during December. I've also noticed a slight slowing down of egg production. Weather has been crazy here too but in December we had record lows. Confusing.
  9. sheaviance1

    sheaviance1 Songster

    Apr 7, 2010
    Quote:Did your egg production drop off when you turned off the light? If that is the case, they probably went back to a semi-normal production for the time of year (length of daylight).
  10. The heat is likely irrelevant.

    However, using a heat lamp increases light and that is likely an issue. The rule seems to be to never, ever decrease light. Suddenly shutting off the light causes them to go into a tizzy. If extra light, during the winter days is added, it cannot be decreased or laying is effected.

    14 hour days, created by a light timer, is the best way to maximize production, if you wish. Personally, I do not push hens beyond 12 hours of light in the winter. I find egg production to be quite decent, while still allowing a solid 12 hours of darkness for rest and energy conservation.

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