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No eggs ....too *much* foraging? ...cat food scraps not good?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Heartpine, Oct 4, 2014.

  1. Heartpine

    Heartpine New Egg

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    Nov 29, 2012
    After a long first molt this summer for for two my my chickens when they laid no eggs, they are fully feathered again...but only have laid three eggs in the past month. They otherwise seem as healthy as ever...spry and full of life.

    I've read all the materials about why chickens may have long periods of no eggs and understand there are a lot of variables. I wonder if anyone has insight into two variables.

    1. A lack of nutritional balanced caused by too much foraging?

    They have balanced nutritional feed in their caged run, but they spend most of the day foraging in our smallish semi-urban back yard. We live in the Tampa Florida so you can bet there are a lot insects, small warms, greens, and even lizards to predate. They still spend several hours per day in their run with the nutritional food, and I also leave a container of feed in the yard that they can access. But I'm wondering if I should leave them penned up more so that they forage less.

    2. Cat food scraps not good?

    We feed our two cats high quality canned food, and they often leave a morsels in the bowl that the chickens love. The analysis is 10% protein but that includes the liquid base so I presume the morsels the chickens eat are much higher % protein content. I wouldn't think this would be an issue but others who have far more experience may have an opinion.

    I'm thinking of stopping the cat food scraps as the first control and see if that makes a difference. The hens will be very dsappointed! They regularly come to the kitchen door several times a day and look in to see if the cats are eating or not.
     
  2. Kiaton

    Kiaton Out Of The Brooder

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    Foraging shouldn't be an issue at all, if anything they're so much healthier doing it. Are you absolutely sure they aren't eating the eggs themselves?
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Could they be laying out in their range area?
    Coop them up for a week, all day and night or at least until mid to late afternoon to 're-home' them to laying in the coop nests.

    If they are older than a year, it might be the shortening days that are keeping them from laying.
    Supplemental lighting might be the answer to that for you.

    I don't free range but you might want to bump up the protein level in the feed you are using. I like to feed an 'all flock' 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat. I have calcium available at all times for the layers, oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container. The higher protein crumble offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2014
  4. B-Goock

    B-Goock Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They may not be getting enough by foraging and like what mine did was start eating their eggs to "supplement" their diet. After a couple soap eggs as deterrents and expanding my run so I could keep them in the pen to eat feed the problem went away and the eggs were back.

    I don't see a real problem with them eating the cat scraps.
     
  5. Heartpine

    Heartpine New Egg

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    Thanks for everyone's replies. Answering the questions, all good!

    Are you absolutely sure they aren't eating the eggs themselves?

    Yes, I'm sure. I work from home and check on them periodically during the day. They also occasionally do the "egg song" and leave the nest but when I check, there's no egg in the nest, and no egg residue like straw wet with yolk. Before the no-egg period started, they'd sometimes do the "egg song" and there would be no egg so this seems consistent.

    Could they be laying out in their range area?

    They have done that on rare occasions in the past...let's say 1 egg in the yard for 60 in the nest. They spend most the day taking shelter and foraging in a thn hedge, and if they've dropped an egg there, it's easily seen.

    Coop them up for a week, all day and night or at least until mid to late afternoon to 're-home' them to laying in the coop nests.

    Great idea. This used to be the pattern until the Florida summer heat came and I realized it was cooler for them to take refuge in the hedge. They use the sandy soil to help stay cool. Now that it's just cooler again, I'll go back to this pattern and see if it makes a diff.

    If they are older than a year, it might be the shortening days that are keeping them from laying

    They are older than a year, but the funny thing about this is the no-egg period started before the summer solstice. I track their daily egg production, and last year they stayed consistent from late summer and throughout winter.

    You might want to bump up the protein level in the feed you are using. I like to feed an 'all flock' 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders

    Thank you, I'll try that. I also have calcium always available and they use it.

    They may not be getting enough by foraging and like what mine did was start eating their eggs to "supplement" their diet. After a couple soap eggs as deterrents and expanding my run so I could keep them in the pen to eat feed the problem went away and the eggs were back. I don't see a real problem with them eating the cat scraps.

    Thanks for your thoughts about the cat scraps, and I think the suggestions about confining them to the pen is the initial approach I'll take for a solution.

    Thanks again, everyone.


     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    First year layers will often lay thru the first winter with no supplemental lighting, after that not likely.

    What about molt?
     
  7. Heartpine

    Heartpine New Egg

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    Yes, you pegged the chickens well. It was their first winter as adults. (They hatched in November 2012.)

    Their first molt seemed to start slow this past May coinciding with egg-laying drop-off, and then really kicked in July and August. By mid-September, they had beautiful new feathers, and that's when a couple of eggs came through...hurray!....but none now in the past 2 weeks.

    So maybe the shorter days is a factor that combined with other factors result in virtually no eggs right now. No single cause but instead a combination of environmental factors.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    It's the short days, since you know the annual molt is done.

    You can go without eggs for the winter, or click the link in my post above on supplemental lighting and be back in business in about a month or so.
     

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