My hens don't perch and have stopped laying eggs

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by dlarson, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. dlarson

    dlarson New Egg

    Apr 5, 2012
    I am a newbie with 5 Rhode Island Reds. I have only had the birds about 1.5 weeks and they are 6 months old. Laid 5 eggs the first day (one each I project) and then have gradually dropped off. I have read almost all the posts, FAQ's and many other links and cannot seem to find out what their problem is, unless its just stress.

    They have a coop off the ground 4 x 6 feet with a plank they walk up to get in or jump up from the end. NO perch inside, but we have 5 14" x 14" nesting boxes. Hay is the medium I chose to pad the coop and boxes. I clean their mess daily, water, and bought pellets from the breeder we purchased them from.

    Their behavior is fun and funny, however, they do put themselves to bed at night and are ready to get out before dawn.

    I feed them standard pellets supplied from breeder.
    Put in some egg shells to aide in egg production.
    Standing fresh water daily (water feeder)
    and a whole fenced back yard for them to roam (40' x 35').

    My husband thought they needed a perch so he created one on a wooden dowel extending from our fence up about 24".. NEVER has one hen jumped up to perch! LOL
    They roam, peck, and go under the coop (shade I suspect) and then lay in cool dirt. They come to the fence when I go in and want scratch snacks (corn) which I give twice daily, but now i have noticed their feed is not being consumed. So I reduced it to one and then none one day.

    What am I doing wrong? LOL Do they need a perch inside too? I am hesitant to try and squeeze one in since they don't perch or jump up during the day outside with lots of room.
  2. BuffOrpington88

    BuffOrpington88 Non-Stop

    Mar 20, 2012
    It is instinct for chickens to roost off the ground at night to seek shelter from ground predators. Although they don't sleep in trees anymore, chickens are still made to roost. When they walk around, they are actually using muscles in their feet to keep them flat. When they sleep, they naturally relax and curl around the roost so they do not fall off.
    They are probably laying their eggs outside. Try putting a couple golf balls in the boxes so they learn to lay there.
    The feed is probably being eaten less because they are getting grass, bugs, and grit from going outside.
  3. dlarson

    dlarson New Egg

    Apr 5, 2012
    Thanks for your wisdom.
    They do sleep off the ground i.e., in the coop that is elevated. However, they all seem to nestle together and sleep. They have laid what little eggs they have in their boxes, but I can guarantee there are no eggs outside. The yard is fairly groomed, at least enough I can see the areas. Being home most of the day, you can expect as a newbie I am watching LOL.
    I noticed this morning that I spread their feed on the ground and they went right after it instead of going to the dish to eat. They are truly a personality to learn.

    Any other great words of wisdom?

    Oh by the way, one of my hens hurt her leg (not sure how /when) but walks with a limp and lies a lot. Should I take her to have it looked at?

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