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New to flock Australorps not laying... winter issue, or other?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by brennamae, Dec 9, 2013.

  1. brennamae

    brennamae Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 26, 2012
    About a month and a half ago we were given six "mangy" australorps from a friend who could no longer tend them. They had been pretty badly abused by the other chickens from our friends flock - they came to us skinny, with bare butts and some had no feathers on their necks. They were, however, laying eggs. For the first few days we took them into our care they laid at least 4 eggs (total) a day. These chickens had just started laying about a month (in about September) before we got them - so were going into their first winter of egg laying.
    They got loads of water, were on a very spacious patch of grass (before they were in a small coop, with no access to the outside world), and fed the same organic feed they had been getting prior to coming to us. We even cooked up scrambled eggs for them for protein, and added ground up cooked eggshell to their food for calcium.
    Then, about a week after we got them, they stopped laying. We slowly integrated them in with our 7 existing chickens and now they all peacefully co-exist. For a few weeks our original girls were still laying (this will be their second winter of laying eggs, so I'm expecting not many, if any, from them) and we found a few (very few) Australorp eggs. Now, we've got nothing! No eggs from anyone.

    So: help? I know winter production slows way down due to the shorter days we have, so I'm not expecting loads of eggs - but last year we got 1 or two each day from our original ladies (Barred Rocks, Buff Orphingtons and Araucanas) and am starting to get concerned about the new Australorps. We have walked their huge run in search for a different nest site, and haven't found one. I, nor my partner, have noticed any evidence of egg eating.
    I assumed the original reason for less egg laying was due to stress - of them being moved. But I would think by now it would be back up to (winter) snuff! We use a more complicated watering/feeding system then they came to us using - but we have added a new feeder (which they use) and make sure there is water (not frozen!) for everyone. They have already gained weight, and their new feathers have almost fully come in - they look really quite healthy now! Could their bodies still be adapting?

    Any other ideas why we might not be getting any eggs at all? I don't know much about the Australorp breed, so perhaps they aren't as proficient layers as our original ladies...?

    Thanks!
     
  2. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    There it is, right there. Your Australorps were moulting. Chickens don't just slow down while they moult, they quit laying eggs completely. Check their combs. Are they bright red and plump and waxy, or are they more shriveled and drier looking? Once they have completely regrown their feathers and their combs plump back up, they will begin laying again.

    If you aren't giving them supplemental light this time of year, they may not come back into lay from their moult until daylight increases, however.
     
  3. brennamae

    brennamae Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 26, 2012
    I wonder, though, if they were molting. They came to us rather battered and abused by their former flock - the feathers that they did have were hardly feathers at all - more like half feathers or 3/4 feathers. The lack of feathers was very clearly from being picked on, not at all like the molting we have seen on our original ladies. So could the re-growth of unintentional "molting" I.e. prior being-picked on cause them to stop laying, too?
     
  4. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    Apr 8, 2008
    Ohio
    A chicken that's had all her feathers pulled out will not regrow the feathers until her next moult. I've had birds with bare backs for 11 months before they moulted and regrew the feathers that they lost to the rooster. Whatever the reason for new feather growth, if she is growing new feathers then she is not producing eggs. That's just the way it works.
     
  5. brennamae

    brennamae Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 26, 2012
    Okay. Thanks.
     

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