Needing some advice on egg laying

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by newchickenista, Jan 29, 2016.

  1. newchickenista

    newchickenista Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 25, 2012
    Southeastern, Oklahoma
    Hello all!

    I have 12 hens that are of laying age. 8 of them are about 2 years old (2 EE, 2 White Leghorn, 2 Buff Orpington, 1 Australorp, 1 Black Sex Link), and 4 of them are about 4 years old (3 Barred Rocks, 1 Production Red) (I have another 17 waiting in the wings that are 18 weeks old and should start laying in the next few weeks). In about October, my pen of 8 hens caught Dry Fowl Pox, and at about the same time/towards the end of their fowl pox they started to molt and the pen of 4 hens started to molt right on their heels. I didn't expect to get anything through the molt, and I really didn't (except for my 1 Black Australorp who just kept on a chugging, one egg a day, and her feathers looked AWFUL as a result!). In December I switched all the layers to Purina's "Feather Fixer" feed just to encourage them to come out of that molt and I also added Oyster Shell free choice in the coop (Something I had never really done before). Well, after a few days with the Oyster Shell and the Feather Fixer I started seeing some action, my 2 EE's and my 2 White Leghorns started laying nearly every day (and I would also get a brown egg in their most days too), and their shells were as hard as a brick bat! I took they layers through 2 or 3 bags of Feather Fixer feed, I can't remember exactly how many, and as far as I can tell they finished molting and were starting to lay decently, getting 3-5 eggs a day out of the coop with my 8 two year old chickens, but still not getting any eggs out of my 4 four year old hens. After the Feather Fixer feed I put them back on Layer Crumbles, and then I have switched them for a few weeks to an All Flock feed (so I could then layers and the 18 week old chicks the same feed, it was a little cheaper for me at the time which was kind of a necessity), the whole time keeping oyster shell free choice. Just today I have switched them back to Layer Feed, still with Oyster Shell available, and I intend to keep them on that from here on out. For the last few weeks I am getting 2-3 eggs a day, all from my two year olds and if I get anything from my four year olds I might get 1 egg every week and a half or something. I do not offer any supplemental light. I put a young rooster in with the four year olds, thinking that might encourage them to lay, but it hasn't really, I got an egg right off, and one about 5 days later, and then nothing since.

    My questions would be, I am pretty much getting 1/3 production right now, if I am lucky, some days I might only get 1 egg. Is this normal for this time of year, or do I have some sort of problem I need to address? I am in Southeastern Oklahoma, and our high temps have been ranging from 37-50 degrees, depending on the week, and pretty consistently 27-37 at night. and we are getting roughly 10 1/2 hours of daylight right now.

    I wasn't too worried, thought it was pretty normal considering the fowl pox, then the molt, and then the cold temps and short days, I pretty much consider every chicken keeper in the world is experiencing about the same thing as me until I start seeing posts and pictures of people getting a dozen eggs a day and then I start thinking, maybe I am doing something way wrong.

    Any advice or encouragement would be so helpful. I have been keeping chickens for about 4 years now, and there is a lot I know, but still a lot I don't know and/or just haven't experienced yet.
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Im honestly not sure, but do you think it could be moulting, time of year and their age combined? Sorry i can't be of more help - i live in kenya and we don't do cold weather so I'm a bit clueless on the moulting / winter time stuff.

    All the best
  3. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Layers take breaks from laying periodically after laying so many eggs. It's an individual thing as to how long they will take off for this vacation from laying. I have a very lazy, entitled Black Cochin who lays for a month then takes off for the next two months.

    Molting is also associated with taking a break from laying, and it can begin anywhere from August here in the northern hemisphere, individuals starting their molt from then until early spring. Molt last from a month to three months or longer. It's usually triggered by the shortening days, and disappears when spring kicks in up here on the upper half of the world.

    Broody spells also interrupt laying, as does illness. Stress and sudden crisis like a predator attack can interrupt laying. So, it may be any of these things behind your flock dropping back in their laying.

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