Need a chicken whisperer...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by motyra, Nov 9, 2013.

  1. motyra

    motyra Hatching

    Aug 27, 2013
    I need a chicken whisperer.
    This spring we found a Brown Isa chicken wandering around the industrial complex where our office/shop is. No idea where she could of come from. Poor thing was starving! She was used to people, let us approach her even pick her up. So we rescued her and brought her home, made her a coop, and kept her fed and happy. She spent the summer following me around the garden, putting the dog in her place and giving us eggs on a somewhat erractic schedule. ( I figured this was the reason she got dumped off, probably too old.) We named her Doris. I knew that come winter she'd need another body to help keep her warm and give her some company in the cold dark evening hours so I set about trying to find her a friend.
    I found a woman who was selling laying hens in October. She had a large flock she was culling. I bought 1 hen, a Barred Rock, for me and two other hens for a friend who wanted laying hens to go with the rooster her daughter brought home from a school science project. These hens had 10 acres to free range on. They didn't get a lot of personal attention from the woman so they are kinda people shy too. Not at all like my hen. The woman told me my Barred Rock was about 15 months old. I brought her home October 1st and we named her Dinah.
    The day after I picked up Dinah she laid a small perfectly smooth light brown egg. Very different from the large rough dark brown eggs I get from Doris. I know it was hers because they were both in the nesting boxes with their respective eggs when I got the eggs that day. I thought that would be good ….I'd be able to tell who's laying and who's not now. Great!
    The 2nd day she laid another similar egg. After that I haven't gotten a single egg from her at all. Now I know Dinah's down about 30 friends and 9 & 3/4 acres of free range space. She's not vey happy with our dog and runs every time she see's her. She's very flighty around us too and just starting to come within 2 feet of me when I give them treats. I think the stress of the move put her into a molt because about a week or so after we got her I was finding her feathers all over the place. Doris, on the other hand, is estatic! She's perky and upbeat. And she started laying consistently everyday, same size and colored eggs. She's eating like a fiend and seems so happy. Dinah is not as enthusiastic about eating as Doris seems to be.
    They get Laying feed, and grit and oyster shell all in separate dishes. I give them scraps and veggies every morning in their run and then I give them oats and scratch when I let them out to free range in the afternoon when I get home. I want to figure out how to get Dinah to lay. I know it's the time of year when they stop laying as much but Doris is still giving me an egg a day pretty much so I figured Dinah should be following suit. I'd love some suggestions, advice, or insights into what's going on or what I can do to help Dinah become a more "productive" member of the family.

    Oh side note…the other 2 hens that my friend got that same day, from the same flock, started laying a week later and haven't stopped yet.

  2. PrairieChickens

    PrairieChickens Songster

    Jun 29, 2012
    Multiple factors could be at play. The stress of losing her entire flock and being moved to new surroundings, the shorter days, and the molt you believe she's going through would all put her off laying. A molt in and of itself will put a hen off laying for several weeks, so coupled with the other factors, it's not too surprising she quit on you. If you want to encourage her to lay, you can put a light on a timer in the coop to supplement their "daylight" hours, and you might make a point of getting her additional sources of protein in case the molting is to blame. Over time she'll adapt to her new surroundings and feel more at home.

    On another note, I'm very pleased your chicken likes her new flockmate! It's always good to hear of a successful integration.
  3. MoreHens

    MoreHens Chirping

    Oct 14, 2012
    Peidmont NC
    It's Fall, days are getting shorter and she's molting (common to hens over 1 year old, in the Fall). These are both likely reasons your Barred Rock stopped laying. Other breeds that are bred for high productivity are more likely to continue laying when the days are shorter and even through a molt. I would consider this normal chicken behavior - what do others think?
  4. motyra

    motyra Hatching

    Aug 27, 2013
    Thanks for your replies. I had installed a light on a timer about a week and a half ago. It gives them an extra 4 hours of light (5:30 to 8:40 pm) So far I hadn't noted any change except for a lightening of color in Doris' eggs. I do not think they're Dinah's eggs...too rough and large and Doris has produced light colored eggs in the past.
    What kind of supplementation do you suggest to increase her protein intake?
    I've never had chickens before and I'm not sure what is considered normal egg production for the winter months. Are we talking no eggs a week? 3 eggs a week? Less? More? Right now I get 1 a day from Doris with the occasional break of 3 days to 1 week of no eggs. If Dinah is too stressed to lay now will she even start laying this time of year? Or am I looking at not knowing until spring?

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