My hens stopped laying eggs, please help!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by cluckingchick, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. cluckingchick

    cluckingchick New Egg

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    Feb 2, 2013
    We have two Barred Rocks that used to lay very well who have stopped laying altogether. They are two and a half years old, who molted last year once for about 2-3 weeks. I've heard they can molt for much longer... They used to lay in their nesting boxes just fine and especially well if they got out of their coop (free-range) regularly. I'd notice that if they didn't get let out of the coop for a few days, they'd lay fewer eggs. Then they were getting more "free range" time and over time they had started waiting to lay later in the day after I would let them out of the coop, and started preferring to lay in their favorite bush once they were running free in they yard. Then our Rhode Island Red got sick last summer :( and she died, she was our best layer, and sweetest little soul. The remaining hens (3) continued to lay pretty well and our worst layer started laying more often.

    Then my husband re-seeded the lawn for an upcoming home appraisal...I don't now exactly what was in the stuff, and I was trying to keep the hens in the coop so the new grass would take. But I felt bad for them stuck in there when they loved being out in the yard, so I let them out here and there to graze a little. At that point, less eggs came and then laying came to a complete halt. I searched the bushes for hidden eggs, hoping they were just laying in the yard somewhere. I didn't know if they were revolting to being kept in the coop longer or if something in the re-seeding process made them stop laying. When I wasn't seeing any eggs at all, I tried keeping them in the coop longer, for a couple of days at a time.

    Then a predator got into the hen house one night (probably a raccoon) and killed our Americana. Our two remaining Barred Rocks got away fine, but I also don't know if that traumatized them to not lay eggs even more. It has been over 2 months since I've seen an egg from my wonderful chickens that once laid so well...I am so sad.

    I have several theories of possibilities based on my story above, but since this is my first flock, I guess I am still new to this. I got them all as day old chicks two and a half years ago, and hand raised them. They've always seemed happy and friendly but I've definitely noticed them not as friendly after the predator attack...I don't know if they're molting, if something in that re-seeding sterilized them, if they were traumatized, or if there's something else in their diet I should be adding.

    Any advice? I'd so appreciate it, I'd love to have my remaining 2 girls happy and laying! I was also hoping to get some more chicks later this year, but want to make sure everything is ok before I do that.

    Many, many thanks!
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    It's totally normal for chickens to take the winter off. To them, eggs are for making baby chicks and winter is a poor time to raise babies, so they take a break. Their bodies need a rest from the constant stress of production. Most birds molt at 18 months and don't start back up until the spring, then continue that each winter. Days are getting longer now, so they should start back up in the next month or so.
     
  3. RWise

    RWise Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you run a light in the coop? If you want eggs all winter the birds need 14 hours of light per day, bright enuf to read by (mine goes on at 4 am and off at 6 pm), at 16 hours per day the birds were a bit stressed, which resulted in some deformations in the shell (but only on one hen). This does shorten their life span to about 5 or so years.
     
  4. Johnn

    Johnn Overrun With Chickens

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    I wouldnt worry if i was you, my hens dont have light in their shed and havent been laying since november, ive got the odd one but thats about it. My hens are bad layers anyways so i dont expect much from them. The three that actually did lay all got killed in one week -__-
     
  5. cluckingchick

    cluckingchick New Egg

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    Feb 2, 2013
    Thank you for your reply! I already feel better, I won't worry. The girls are running around the yard as happy as can be right now. They just got lots of yummy scraps and its a warm sunny day. They have been such fabulous layers for most of their little lives so far I guess they need a break!
    Thanks again!
     
  6. cluckingchick

    cluckingchick New Egg

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    Feb 2, 2013
    Thanks for your reply :)

    Come to think of it, I did have a light in the coop at night for warmth last winter as they were just 5 or so months and had just started laying. I wanted to make sure all their feathers were in before I turned it off. Since we live in Los Angeles, the weather is pretty temperate, so they just kept laying. But we have had some cooler nights that have dipped into the low 30's, and I haven't put the light on at all.

    I think I'll just let them have a break, no need to stress them. They're so happy running around right now, nice warm sunny day, and they were just treated to some yummy kitchen scraps. They came running when I called them as cute as can be :)

    Thanks again!
     
  7. cluckingchick

    cluckingchick New Egg

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    Feb 2, 2013
    Thanks so much for your reply. I feel better already just from the support [​IMG]. I'll just give them a break and see what happens when the nights get warmer.

    I'm so sorry to hear about your chickens getting killed [​IMG] it really is heart-breaking. Much luck to your next flock!
     

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