New to this! When should I expect egg production to stop?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by GreenAcres31, Oct 22, 2012.

  1. Yes, I use a heat source.

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  2. I only use a heat source when it's VERY cold outside.

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  3. I do not use a heat source, but my coop is well insulated.

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  4. I don't use a heat source or insulation and my flock has been fine.

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  1. GreenAcres31

    GreenAcres31 New Egg

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    Aug 13, 2012
    Nottingham, NH
    Hi there :)

    So I am very new to this. My friend and I purchased 4 older pullets (2 Golden Comets and 2 Buff Orpingtons) in July and they started laying within weeks. By now they are full-fledged hens and, up until a couple of weeks ago, we were getting an egg a day from all 4 of them. We live in New Hampshire and the days and nights have gotten cooler. Lately, we've been finding only two eggs a day in the nesting boxes (we can tell by the color that we are getting one from each breed of hen every day). Is it possible that two of my hens have already stopped laying completely? We live in an area where there are a lot of potential predators (foxes, coyotes, bears, fishers, raccoons, owls, you name it) so they only free-range on the weekends and for about an hour now each day when we get home from work (so that we can keep an eye on them when they are out of their coop/run area). They get fed a complete layer feed and we supplement their diet with table scraps. I was under the impression that a good, hearty diet would keep them laying a little longer. I haven't put any lights or heat lamps on them at all. I'm actually a little torn on this subject because much of my research has told me that I don't really need them and it could actually make them sick, but it's also the only way to keep them laying. One of our hens also appears to be molting (there are feathers missing from around her head and neck and the run floor is littered with feathers). I know she's not at the top of the pecking order, but she also doesn't look like she's getting beaten up either. Do chickens typically stop laying when they are molting? I could certainly use some help/guidance on what's going on with my little flock.

    Thanks!

    -A worried chicken mom
     
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    It isn't the heat versus cold thing. Chickens don't much care about temperatures, at least not until it is 0F or below. Laying is much more influenced by light. Daylight hours. With the nights now being longer than the days, laying begins to sag. Since you said you birds are "older", perhaps this is their second Autumn/Winter?? If so, they'll take a break. Yes, they moult their second Autumn and most every Autumn thereafter. They take as much as 6 weeks off. They re-charge. Some folks provide a few extra hours of artificial light, in the pre-dawn hours, to keep their birds laying through the winter. Some folks prefer their birds rest in a natural state. That is entirely your choice.

    Older hens don't typically lay as heavily as first year pullets. Hope that helps.
     
  3. GreenAcres31

    GreenAcres31 New Egg

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    Aug 13, 2012
    Nottingham, NH
    Hi "Fred" :)

    Thanks! That is really helpful. They were born early this spring, I just meant that they weren't babies when I bought them, they were about 7 months old. This is their first fall/winter. I might just think about putting a plain lightbulb (not a source of heat, just light) in their coop on a timer to keep them going a bit. I'll have to think about it. As for the feather loss, I kinda figured that it was just natural molting, but this is the first time I've ever seen it happen so it's nice to be reassured! Thanks!

    -Christina
     

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