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New hen adjusting...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ChickenBiffer, May 10, 2016.

  1. ChickenBiffer

    ChickenBiffer In the Brooder

    Apr 30, 2015
    So I'm pretty pleased with myself-- I managed to incorporate a new hen into my established flock and it all went pretty smoothly I followed a lot of tips on here to make it work... I kept April quarantined for a month, gave her supplements in her water, moved her gradually within sight of the other birds, let all the hens free range together until finally (as of two days ago) they are conflict-free in the same coop and run. However, this new hen has not laid an egg yet, which puzzles me. I had read that the transition might mean a wait of anywhere between 3 days and 3 weeks, but now we're at a solid MONTH of no egg!!

    April (the new hen) is the same age as my other hens (about a year old) and when we got her (April 2), she was spending the last few weeks of cold weather in a large barn. At her previous home, she was basically 'wintering' in the barn-- when she came to our house she spent a few days in our garage, then we put her in an A-frame tractor in the backyard. It was a lot of adjustment for her right off the bat-- where she came from, it was REALLY loud, she was mixed in among roosters and a lot of other loud squawkers. My garage (and eventually my backyard) must have felt like sensory deprivation in those first weeks!!

    Anyway, so she spent several weeks in the backyard tractor, she acclimated to our other birds (5 hens) and now they are together in the much larger coop/run. Now that she's with the other hens, I don't have much way of knowing for sure if she's laying (all five hens are different breeds, the brown eggs look similar), but as of two days ago (right before we put her in there), she hadn't laid an egg for a MONTH. Since we got her she's also been dropping lots of feathers, I don't know if that is from stress or what. She doesn't look odd or scraggly, just dropping lots of big beautiful feathers. If she's molting, does that mean she would go weeks without laying?

    Does it typically happen that a hen this age (about a year) could go so long without laying? I really thought this was sort of their prime laying age, it surprises me that she just shut down so long...

    thanks in advance for any thoughts!

  2. pdirt

    pdirt Songster

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    It sounds like she's molting..."been dropping lots of feathers". Chickens can and do molt at most any time, just just when they "normally" do, especially under stress. Any sort of major stress can cause a molt. And what may be stressful for one bird may not be for another. Factory farms who raise egg layers will force a molt by simply withholding feed for about 24 hours.

    Even though you've taken great lengths to make the transition as smooth as possible (good job!), chickens are social critters and this was not a social transition. I mean, she was a lone chicken, with no friends to be part of the transition. While she could see/smell the other chickens, they were foreign to her and a potential threat, even though she was "safe" in her cage. They may not be so foreign to her now, but the stress of the whole situation probably initiated a molt.

    A molt usually means 2-3 months without eggs. Be sure she gets plenty of protein during this phase...it might be easier to just feed a 17-19% feed to everyone. If you can't find layer in that percentage, feed some type grower or starter feed (or "all flock/flock raiser" or "feather fixer") and provide crushed oyster shells on the side for calcium for the egg layers.

    Also, some molts are obvious (losing lots of feathers) and some are very mild (usually looking scruffy, especially around the neck).
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    She's still adjusting, timeline kind of starts again now she's with the flock....plus it does sound like she's molting.
    Be patient, they're not pez dispensers [​IMG]....one fine day you'll get 6 eggs.

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