Need help! Considering the possibilities....

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by gritsar, Apr 18, 2009.

  1. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I have 14 hens and a rooster. They turned a year old on April 9th. Their coop has lots of natural light due to two large windows. They free range from the time I get up in the morning to let them out until they go to roost at dusk.
    With very few exceptions I have averaged 11 eggs a day since they all started laying well. A month ago my average dropped to 9 a day. Yesterday I got FOUR eggs.
    Usually they are out no matter the weather. Due to severe thunderstorms this morning and because we had other things going on I didn't let them out.
    I finally let them out at 2:30 and I found 10 eggs in the nest. Where were these eggs yesterday and the two that have been missing for a month?
    The possibilities I can think of:

    1. Somebody's hiding eggs outside - I've checked all their favorite stopping points on their free range route and I'll check again when it stops raining.
    2. Egg eaters (hens) - I don't think they could manage to eat that many without me seeing some evidence on their beaks or in the coop and I've checked carefully. The yolks are so thick on their eggs, surely somebody would have yolk stuck to their beaks?
    3. Egg eaters (egg predators) - There's an awful lot of human, cow & dog activity around the coop and chicken yard. The coop is open during the day, but sealed shut at night. I check for eggs several times a day.
    4. Moult - Most of the hens went thru a mini-moult between 7 and 9 months. Nobody is looking especially ragged and there's no profusion of feathers in the coop.

    What am I missing??? [​IMG]
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Doesn't sound like a snake or similar critter could get in thata often without someone setting off the alarm. I'm guessing a human predator is unlikely from your description. My guess would be this leaves you with finding where they are laying.
     
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:Yeah, our farm is pretty isolated. Our closest neighbor is 1/4 mile away and I can't imagine anyone coming all the way up our road just to steal some eggs. Besides, there's usually a police car parked out front and the bark crazy border collie.
    Okay, the sun is shining. I'm going on an easter egg hunt.
    And oh yeah, Lil'Bit laid today too so that's 11 eggs.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2009
  4. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    My free rangers have dropped production sharply as well, and I have eliminated all likely hiding places. I've penned them up for a couple of days to see if this is a real stoppage or if they are hiding eggs.

    Its a real slow down. They've been laying very steadily since Jan., so I'm thinking they are just going through a hormonal slow down and will recover soon. I did cut back on feed a little, as they were getting too plump. My son claims they've slowed because they aren't getting as much feed. I'm increasing feed to see if this is the case. If not, I guess there will be no stopping this loss in production.

    We could always try the old cayenne pepper trick, huh? [​IMG]
     
  5. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Well, I just came back from walking the fence line and going some places I'd rather not. I'm not finding eggs. You know beekissed your son may be on to something.
    Lately instead of keeping their 30 lb. feeders super full I've been just topping it off with a 3 qt. scoop each evening. It's never empty in the morning, so I figured that was enough. Last night however I went ahead and filled it up; anticipating the bad weather we got this morning. Today my egg count was back up to 11 eggs. Okay, so the feeder will stay full from now on like I used to do.
    Oh, and do I need to mention that the cows all have the "green grass s**ts" and I kneeled down someplace I shouldn't have? [​IMG]
     
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] Been there before!!! [​IMG]

    I was kind of hoping to taper off on the feed now that the grass is so lush and green. Also, because a couple of weeks ago I butchered some culls and they were the absolute fattest chickens I've ever killed! They had so much orange/yellow fat around all their organs that I felt it couldn't be healthy for them.

    I know that some animals....and people...are less productive when they have fat around their reproductive organs, so I decided to cut back on feed. Within a couple of days my egg production went from 24 to 12! [​IMG]

    Needless to say, I increased the feed and got 15 for the past few days, 18 today...... [​IMG] Looks like Southern States will still be making a killin' off me for awhile! [​IMG]
     

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