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Need some insight.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by rollaghens, Nov 3, 2016.

  1. rollaghens

    rollaghens New Egg

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    I have a total of 18 laying hens, they range from white leghorns, road island red, and new Hampshire red. I added 8 more chicks this spring. I put them in with the older 10 hens in June. Since around that time my older hens which at the time were only 16 months old, and now are 19 months old are only laying 1 to 2 eggs a day. The young ones are laying an egg a day. there are some days I don't even get an egg from the old ones. I thought maybe they are eating them but during the weekend I get down to the coop and pick early and still only 8 if I am lucky 10. every once in while I see that one has been eaten as I see what is left of the egg white in the nesting box. I am to the point that I am tired of feeding these birds with no egg production. The Road Island Red is a big bird and eats a lot. The have plenty of food given to them, I have a hanging feeder that I add food to when needed. the get some corn as a treat maybe every 3 days or so. Get plenty of water and the get outside time. The coop is 10'x30' and there run outside is 25'x15'. I tried to read some of the older posts on here and it is a little confusing as 95% of the replies to the post about hens not laying are people saying they have the same issue. I know they drop off in production as they age but not they don't stop at 13 months of age. this has been going on now for 5 full months. I have a light on a timer already so that isn't the issue. Any insight would be much appreciated. Thank you!
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    What are you using for a light? How many hours/day? What is the wattage? How long have you had the light running? What are you feeding them? What is the protein content of their feed? How secure is your coop? All openings covered with 1/2" hardware cloth??? Any signs of rats, snakes? You say that your production with the older hens has been down like this for 5 months? They will stop laying when they are going into a molt. But if they have not been laying for 5 months, that's an issue.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2016
  3. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    How many eggs were you getting prior to adding new girls? Sometimes additions can cause stress which will decrease laying.

    What do you feed?

    In all truth your older girls are old enough to molt and probably will if they aren't already. During which time they won't lay eggs. When do you provide your lighting? Your coop and run sound large enough for the size of your flock.

    Too much calcium as in layer 4% can cause long term kidney issues for non layers. Higher protein like a Flock Raiser 20% will help molting birds grow back in their feathers. I always provide oyster shell on the side.

    Sounds like you don't wanna support free loaders in the off season. So I would consider selling off birds of that age a little earlier in their second season so their new owners can get a few eggs before molt. Or eat them.

    Also, sometimes predators can have an impact if the girls have felt threatened.

    One of my BR born this year layed for a month or so and already quit for the season. [​IMG]

    I think your real issue maybe molt. I haven't tried, but many swear by putting black or red pepper in the feed to increase egg production. And they theorize it works because it takes water to make eggs and water consumption is decreased in the winter. And increased by the consumption of the pepper. [​IMG]

    Since I support 50 ish birds, I may sell or eat before molt, at least my non breeders. Haven't decided yet.
     
  4. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Any change has a tendency to stress chickens and that affects their laying. Adding the new girls will have triggered a slow down in production and since the older girls are over a year they will also be moulting which again causes them to slow down or usually stop laying. Moulting can be quite discrete or quite shocking but mostly somewhere in between. What you should notice is an increase in feathers lying around the coop and run. The older birds may not come back into lay until the days start getting longer or may start again as soon as they have replenished their feathers and come back into condition. If you haven't noticed feathers then expect to see some any time.
    As regards the occasional broken/eaten egg, my guess would be that a hen is laying thin shelled eggs as sometimes happens towards the end of a cycle and they are getting accidentally broken and then eaten. I've had this happen before and all other eggs remain untouched except the thin shelled one. I knew the hen laying them and tried to collect her egg as soon as she laid it to prevent the nest box being messed up but unless you are around all day to watch for it, it's not easy. The problem with my hen was just old age and it went on for months and the rest of my flock never once broke open and ate any other eggs. Sadly she died a few months ago and now she is gone there are no more problems.

    There is a reason why most commercial egg producers clear out their hen houses when the birds reach 18 months and it is because they are no longer economically viable. That doesn't mean to say that they will not lay eggs for many more years to come but just that they will probably take 2-4 months off each year to moult. The advantage of older girls is that they lay larger eggs each year and they provide stability in a flock.
     
  5. rollaghens

    rollaghens New Egg

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    I feed them Purina Layena pellets. I don't believe the issue is the light, the reduction in eggs started in the beginning of June with the longest days of the year. I have the LED light come on at 6am and shuts off at 8am the comes back on at 5pm then shuts off at 9pm. the coop is secure, only thing in it is a few mice as with any coop. the cat occasionally enter it to hunt mice but the hens don't seemed to bothered by the cat.
     
  6. rollaghens

    rollaghens New Egg

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    how long does it take for the molt? I have noticed more feathers. But honestly I only noticed 1 bird this summer that looked bad! Will they all molt at the same time? The Road Islands I have noticed have a lot of feathers missing on their backside. 5 months just seems to be a long time, or is it not??
     
  7. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    The laying issues in June were because of the newly introduced birds. And it's normal for your older birds to not be laying at this time of year. The shorter days and molting put a stop to eggs for the winter months. Supplemental lighting only works if you gradually increase the amount of light, simulating the lengthening days of spring. And layer feed should only be fed if all the birds in the flock are actively laying. The fact that you may have an egg eater in your flock indicates that they may not be getting enough protein.
     
  8. rollaghens

    rollaghens New Egg

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    so do you think I need to switch my feed option, if so to what? the light issue has already done it deal, as for a week I didn't have it and the production dropped to around 4 to 5 then I added the light and it came back up and has stayed there for the last 2 weeks or so.
     
  9. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The stress of adding the youngsters will have knocked them off lay initially and then probably moulting after that. Moult can start as early as mid summer and then just as they are getting over it, the decreasing length of day can suppress them from starting again. Or it can start as late as mid winter. I currently have over 40 birds of mixed ages almost all moulting and I'm getting 1 or 2 eggs a day and desperately waiting for the new pullets to come into lay. The old girls will come back into lay when they are ready and I don't begrudge them some down time. We all need a holiday. It's important to remember hens are not machines but living creatures that are affected by the seasons. To my mind it is not cost effective to produce your own back yard eggs, so you have to do it for the love of it and knowing that they are healthy hens producing healthy eggs. You cannot compete with the major producers for price so you go for the middle ground.... accept that there will be a lull in production at this time of year with older hens, keep raising a few pullets in the flock to partly cover the shortfall at this time of year and perhaps cull birds that no longer come back into production next year. As a back yard poultry keeper I'm not sure it makes sense to cull them at this time of year just because they stopped production for moult, when they may have many more years of egg laying left in them. After all it will take a significant outlay of money to replace them with POL pullets or feed to raise new pullets to POL. You might as well spend the money on feeding the birds that you have.... remember introducing new birds to the flock will cause stress and knock them off laying again and risk bringing in infection/disease.... lots of reasons to keep faith with the old girls in my opinion.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2016
  10. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Switch to something that is about 18 to 20 percent protein, and no extra calcium. Better to offer crushed oyster shell separately and allow them to self regulate so that nobody is getting overdosed.
     

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