Newbie Here! Hens have not started to lay!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by GrowingonFaithFarm, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. GrowingonFaithFarm

    GrowingonFaithFarm In the Brooder

    Jan 10, 2009
    Prospect, TN
    Hi, I am new here but I already have a question for those of you with more experience at this than me!

    We purchased chicks from Murray McMurray in the early summer of various breeds including: buff orpington, delaware, blue andalusian, new hampshire red, a partridge rock and two mille fleur bantams.

    Their hatch date was 6/21 and they have never laid an egg! We have them in a coop with plenty of room and they get out every day for free range. We also have 4 roosters if that helps any. There are a total of eight hens. We did have a much better hen to rooster ratio but dogs got into the coop when they were about 15 weeks old and took care of that so now we are rooster poor but looking to remedy that soon if my dear hubby can talk himself into it.

    We live in Southern Middle TN and have had A LOT of rainy days since November so we have had very little natural sunlight. We have tried to make up for that by installing a light bulb in their coop and have been keeping it on 24/7 since last week, before that we turned it on at dusk and left it on until about 9 PM. I had hoped leaving it on for a longer time would help but no such luck. Temps here have averaged about 50 during the day and 35 in the PM since November.

    Oh, we feed Purina layer ration plus treats every once in a while but we keep most of those for the roosters to help with the feed bill. They eat a ton of feed. We purchased a 50lb bag a few days before Christmas and ran out today! They eat every last bit and I am afraid they may not be getting enough to lay but I check their crops at roosting time and they are all full.

    That is all I can think of except that my husband is wanting to get rid of them because we have spent so much and are still not getting anything in return. They were purchased so that we would be more self sufficient and now that are more of a burden since we are not only buying feed but still buying eggs too!

    Any advice would be so appreciated!
  2. sunnychooks

    sunnychooks Songster

    Jul 21, 2007
    I think I understand that you have 8 hens and 4 roosters??? That's way too many roosters. The ratio should be more like 1 rooster to every 8 or 10 hens. Perhaps your girls are stressed. Also, if you don't plan to hatch baby chicks you don't need a rooster at all. The hens will still lay eggs without one.
    I'd give your girls a bit more time. They are 7 months old, but they were dealing with decreased daylight around the time you would expect them to start laying. They may wait until there is more natural daylight.
    Another thought is that you may have egg eaters or something may be getting in and stealing the eggs. If they free-range there may be clutches of eggs around your property that you don't know about. Try keeping them confined for a day or two and see what happens.
    Do they have charactoristics of hens that are laying? Such as, do they squat when you pick them up? Are their combs very bright red? Can you see the bleaching sequence anywhere on their bodies (I usually see their beaks, vents and legs getting paler)?
    I hope this helps. Others will probably have more thoughts.
    Good Luck! [​IMG]

    Edited to add: Welcome to BYC!!!!!
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2009
  3. Barry

    Barry Songster

    I would not even start feeding layer ration until they started laying, and if it is eggs that interest you then you do not need any roosters. Personally I prefer eating unfertilized eggs as there won't be any blood spots in the eggs.
    They will start laying soon with the 24/7 lighting you added so just be patient and tell hubby this is not the time to cut your losses.
  4. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

    Aug 25, 2008
    Quote:Excellent advice! Welcome & good luck!
  5. rooster-red

    rooster-red Here comes the Rooster

    Jun 10, 2007
    Douglasville GA
    Blood spots have nothing to do with the egg being fertilized, they happen when a small blood vessel ruptures in the uterus of a hen and can happen even if you have no rooster.

    Don't feed them layer feed until they start to lay, they don't need the extra calcium until they are laying and it could cause joint problems in the long term.

    4 roosters for 8 hens is too many, you might think about rehoming 3 of them.

    Give your hens a little more time, they'll start laying.

  6. Laskaland

    Laskaland ThE gRoOvY cHiCkEn

    Aug 2, 2008
    I agree with everyone above me.

    I wonder if you might take pictures for us to look at? Daylight is really important, if you could add just a few hours of light a day, that might help?

    If they free range, are they possibly laying eggs outside rather than in the coop? I have found eggs all over the place.

    Good luck [​IMG]
    And: [​IMG] Glad you found us!
  7. ginbart

    ginbart Crowing

    Mar 9, 2008
    Bloomsburg, PA
    I had to rehome 3 roosters and my hens starting laying 2 weeks later. I did keep them in the pen for 3 days so they knew where to lay. Also I put golf balls in their nest. Good luck

    The hard part is deciding which roos to rehome. But if you wants eggs [​IMG]
  8. chickiebaby

    chickiebaby Songster

    Jan 2, 2008
    western mass
    Great advice all around. Didn't notice anyone mentioning

    1. if your birds havent started laying before the dark short days of late fall, they may not start til spring or early summer. They werent really old enough before ate fall and then you didnt artificially light right away so it seems like maybe they just behaved like laying season would have to wait.

    2. Don't feel bad - some people on this board don't believe in artificial lighting anyway and like to give their girls a well-earned seasonal rest. Small consolation to you, I'm sure, if you've never yet seen an egg.

    3. And may I just add: when you use artificial light, you don't necessarily want it on from dusk to 9 pm. Many of us do use some artificial light, and the optimum number of hours of light a day is fourteen-- but your light should really be on for that whole time.

    Just as a "for instance," mine is on from about 06:00 to 20:00. You don't want the natural light to start waning and then have the light bulb kick in. Way too confusing for the little birdbrains.

    4. You could check the amount of protein in their feed and make sure they're not stinting. I personally dont like Purina, but that's just me. I like local feed. You could try feeding more kitchen scraps esp extra protein. Many on this board also swear by black oil sunflower seeds (commonly fed to wild birds in winter).

    I'm sure you'll get lots of good advice. And, eventually, eggs!
  9. GrowingonFaithFarm

    GrowingonFaithFarm In the Brooder

    Jan 10, 2009
    Prospect, TN
    Thanks for all the quite reply's! As for the rooster hen ratio, well as I said, we did have a much better ratio but 10 of our hens and 2 more roosters (we purchased Maran straight run and got all roosters!) plus the one of the delaware roosters was supposed to be our first broiler but we have not had the inclination yet to do the deed since it would be a first for us city turned farm life folks.

    I do let the chickens out in the AM into their fenced in run but some of them are pretty adept at flying over the fence but we have not seen them even act like they have laid an egg anywhere. We do have several other chickens that we keep in a separate coop which we have had for nearly a year so we know the sights and sounds of egg laying and have seen nor heard anything out of these girls. The other hens by the way have been laying since the summer (laid at 28 weeks and are BB Red Old English Game, not known for being prolific layers) and are still producing ( albeit 1 egg a day from four hens ) even with no artifial light in their coop. We also have two other nearly two year old hens in the same coop with the BB reds that stopped laying after a molt in October, they are a black sex link and an aracuana so who knows!

    I also add an Herbal wormer with DE to their ration and my husband thinks that may have something to do with it even though I have read that it is supposed to help not hinder productivity. I also add Apple Cider Vinegar with Mother to their water plus a squirt or two of Nutri Drench. I may be doing too much I have no idea! We have never raised chicks from a day old before and have never had this many.

    Thanks again for all the advice!

    Oh, if I should not be giving them layer ration what do I feed them? The only other ration my feed store carries is the starter and it is more expensive.
  10. ginbart

    ginbart Crowing

    Mar 9, 2008
    Bloomsburg, PA
    I gave mine grower food before they started laying. [​IMG]

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