No fruit to laying hens

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by 4-H chicken mom, Oct 18, 2007.

  1. rufus

    rufus Crowing

    May 17, 2007
    OK, I will add in my two cents on this issue. My Mother used to say that when the hens molt early and then stop laying altogether that we are in for a real bad winter. I am not sure if there is anything to that, but let's just remember in May to look back and revisit the issue.

  2. Rosalind

    Rosalind Songster

    Mar 25, 2007
    Are you absolutely 100% certain that they are not hiding them or eating them, and that something like a rat is not stealing eggs?

    I was SURE my chickens were eating their eggs this week and not laying sufficiently. I mean, morally certain, I found a few broken eggs and a lot less whole ones. These were chickens that laid faithfully in their nest boxes. I went in to clean yesterday and found one hen sitting in the far corner behind the screen door, apparently hiding from the dog. Picked her up, and lo and behold, there were about 18 eggs under there--the broken ones were from when she tried to steal them and roll them into her hidey-hole. She didn't behave like a regular broody, either, she got up and ran around with the other hens nearly every time I was in there, and the few times I saw her in the corner I just though she was too big to get up to her favorite nest box. And I know these were not laid by her--partridge Cochins don't lay green or white! She managed to pick a spot sort of behind the feed bin where I don't really look, and covered them with enough shavings that it wasn't obviously a nest.

    I have fed my chickens tons of fruit, including cantaloupe, grapes, watermelon, apples, citrus, cherries, etc. They all keep laying no matter what. In fact, I have so many eggs that if you ever discovered a fruit that truly does slow egg-laying, I would give them some every day. Four dozen eggs a week between two people and whomever we have visiting is a bit much.
  3. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

    Apr 6, 2007
    4-H Chicken Mom, you have a real mystery here.

    Thinking out loud:
    Since all your birds have stopped laying SOMETHING must have triggered
    this in all your birds at the same time. That rules out disease or stress from
    a fair. This points to something environmental. If they layed fine on your
    current feed I would rule out nutrition also.

    Fruit-Hey, the Meyer thing came from somewhere. Saying "no fruit" is
    almost impossible since fruit varies so much un chemistry from one to
    another. Maybe the cantaloupe triggered some kind of rare chemical response.
    Sometimes the obvious is the correct answer. If I were you I'd be considering
    the fruit also, as unlikely as it seems. [​IMG]

    I'm really thinking about Rufus's comment. Animals sense things we don't.
    Watch close for any clues.

    I'm not sure how your weather has been but our temps have gone from
    50 to 90 and back and forth a few times. We usually get a week of summer
    weather in October but this year is strange.

    Finally, one of my 9 laying hens went broody this week. Egg production for my entire
    flock dropped in half. I'm thinking something hormonal is going on.
  4. hencackle

    hencackle Songster

    Mar 25, 2007
    Telford, TN
    Interesting thread....I've not heard anything about fruit causing a drop in egg laying before. Egg production is way down here due to "moulting season".

    However, last summer I noticed a sudden drop in the number of eggs and I started checking the yard for hidden nests. Underneath the playhouse coop, in a space barely tall enough for a hen to stand, I found a nest filled with eggs. A couple days of collecting the eggs and stirring the nest area with a stick made the hens stop laying there.

    If you suspect that you have an egg eating hen, blow out an egg and refill it with mustard and set it back in the nest. If you have rats stealing eggs...who knows it might make them stop. Hot sauce won't work to deter birds because they don't the taste receptors to detect "heat" but mammals do. Perhaps filling the egg with a mustard/hot sauce combo might be the thing to do.
  5. 4-H chicken mom

    4-H chicken mom Crowing

    Aug 3, 2007
    Oberlin, OH
    Oh rufus, Moms are usually always right but I sure hope yours is wrong about a bad winter. I hate winter, especially the snow. My chickens don't like the snow either. They won't even step in. They just stand in the doorway and look out when I open the door.

    Noone is hiding the eggs either. Nowhere to hide them. We don't let them out in the yard anymore because of foxes stealing our chickens right out of the yard in the middle of the day. They have a coop and a very large outside pen. I don't think anything is stealing them either. My chickens are ruthless when it comes to invaders. One time when they were out in the yard, I heard this ruckus in the yard and I went running. The chickens found a 2 foot garter snake and beat that thing to death. I hate snakes, but I did feel bad for the creature.
    Not eating them either. I have had that problem before, but there was always some evidence of that. I do like the mustard in the egg trick. Does that stop them from eating them? My grandma just killed her chickens if they started that. She always said there wasn't anything you can do stop that. But that is another issue.
  6. hencackle

    hencackle Songster

    Mar 25, 2007
    Telford, TN
    4-H chicken mom--I've not had to resort to the mustard-filled egg trick yet, although a few of mine have eaten some eggs.
    It doesn't happen much, so I give mine some slack. I believe my great-grandma would have taken matters in her own hands (literally) and wrung some necks.

    Have you gone at night and shone the flashlight on each one, checking for egg yolk stained faces and feathers? I've seen another chicken clean the egg off another hen's wattles and feathers was so funny looking.
  7. ozark hen

    ozark hen Living My Dream

    Apr 4, 2007
    Mansfield, MO
    4-H--I kept saying we were in for a horrible winter last year as I had never seen so many acorns on the trees, I was amazed at the huge clusters...we had a terrific ice storm leaving thousands without power for many weeks. Then around Easter we had a very hard freeze and lost all our fruit blossoms. Now the acorns are normal and I trust in the "signs" for where you live.
    Secondly, I read that you can take a couple of those large round bales of hay and unroll them side by side about January or whenever you get the snow, and the chickens have a place to scratch for seeds, turning it into mulch for your garden and it is much easier on their feet. we are using this method this coming winter! then in spring the seeds that drop to the bottom of the mulched hay will sprout good things for the chickens to eat in their run! Sounds great to me, hope it pans out as good as it sounds. Nothing to lose in trying it is there? [​IMG]
  8. 4-H chicken mom

    4-H chicken mom Crowing

    Aug 3, 2007
    Oberlin, OH
    That is a great idea ozark hen. I will have to try that. I think the chickens would appreciate that very much.
  9. eggcetra_farms

    eggcetra_farms Songster

    Jun 26, 2007
    San Antonio, TX
    Whatever happened with the chickens?
  10. claud

    claud Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    Not sure about the fruit idea. Mine eat fruit. When my hens are ready to start laying in the spring their combs get redder and bigger. In the fall their combs get smaller and duller. This is a hormonal change that affects egg production. I don't know what kind of hens you have but have you/can you notice this change in them? Maybe a hormonal shift was triggered by something - weather/light/food.....?

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