Not laying eggs?

selenag

Chirping
Jan 30, 2018
27
35
64
Florida
Hey guys , I’ve had my hens for over a year now and they’re diet is pretty decent and they’ve been free ranging since they were 2 months but not one of them has layed a egg
I’ve looked all over my property and found no eggs hiding. So any opinions on why they don’t lay eggs would be really nice.
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Nov 23, 2010
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St. Louis, MO
What breed/s?
What makes up their diet?

If productive breeds, I'm sure they have laid this past summer. You just didn't find their egg hiding places.

I have a building with about 10 adult hens and various other ages. There are several roosts and a loft. About the time in late summer when eggs became scarce, some had taken to sleeping in the loft where tools and some hover brooders are stored. I put a ladder up to the loft a couple days ago and found over 50 eggs in one of the brooders.
 

redheadedhens

Chirping
Apr 26, 2016
38
30
82
San Diego, CA
I have a 40 (ish) week old Cuckoo Maran who still isn't laying. About two weeks ago, she laid a very small (acorn size) hard shelled "egg", so I thought for sure she was finally ready. But nothing since...

She is one of three chickens. The other two are red stars, who have been laying since 18-24 weeks. Everyone has the same diet. Everyone free ranges the same amount. I live in Southern CA so climate has not been a factor for us, at least not with past birds.

She doesn't squat, but she is spastic and that doesn't surprise me. She appears big and well feathered. Her comb/waddle are as red as I would expect them to get. Other than being extremely skittish, her behavior is normal. She appears to be the boss of the other two.

Would love any thoughts.
 

rebrascora

Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 14, 2014
7,127
8,756
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Consett Co.Durham. UK
@selenag Your flock free ranges and that is key here. If combs are plump and red then they are laying eggs and you are just not finding them. Chickens can be very creative about where they lay. It may be that you are not finding their secret nest or a predator is finding the eggs before you are. Rats and snakes and countless other animals will take eggs or perhaps they are laying on a neighbours property and your neighbour is benefitting from your hens' efforts.
Of course, at this time of year, hens over a year old may have stopped laying and be in moult or recovering from moult but they will certainly have been producing eggs during the summer. The only way to get their eggs will be to confine them to a run for a week or two, so that they have no option but to lay in their nest boxes. It might help to put curtains across your nest boxes if they are not sufficiently private that the hens don't approve. Some fake eggs in the nest boxes can sometimes encourage them to lay in the right place.

@redheadedhens It is likely that your girl is also laying away somewhere. Tiny "Fairy Eggs" sometimes occur towards the end of their laying cycle as they approach moult or sometimes when they are starting up after moult and can pop out when they are not expecting it so it may be that is why you got that one.... the fact that she is flighty makes it more likely that she has a secret nest somewhere.
 

ChickenCanoe

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Premium Feather Member
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Nov 23, 2010
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Here are a few thoughts.
I haven't found climate to be a factor. However, day length is the primary factor to initiate or delay a lay cycle. Your hen reached POL about a month and a half or so after summer solstice so that likely is what has delayed ovulation.
The acorn sized fairy egg likely didn't contain a yolk so ovulation never really took place. Anything entering the oviduct will accumulate some albumen and get wrapped in calcium.
I have not found that comb/wattles to be an absolute indicator of laying and definitely not squatting. I haven't had a hen squat for me in years. I currently have an older hen that stopped laying when she molted in late August and hasn't laid in 4 months but her comb has been bright red and large for the breed the whole time just like pullets that have been laying. They're all the same breed.
I once had an Orpington hen who never got a large red comb, it was tiny and pale yet she laid very well.
What I have found to be an indicator is the space between the pointy pelvic bones. If the space is less than 2 fingers width, they aren't laying eggs because they can't pass one. When laying is imminent, the space will widen.
Another thought is you said they were all fed the same but you didn't say if it was layer feed, or some other feed and if layer, when that was started.
 
Last edited:

redheadedhens

Chirping
Apr 26, 2016
38
30
82
San Diego, CA
Thank you for the replies. I should have been more specific, they “free range” on weekends when I’m home. They are contained to a run all week. No places to hide eggs.

I started them on layer feed maybe around 16 weeks? Thank you for the tip about the space between the pelvic bone. It will take me 7 years to catch her, but it might be worth the effort. She isn’t acting egg bound or in any type of distress. Just a free loading chicken with a crappy attitude.

@selenag Your flock free ranges and that is key here. If combs are plump and red then they are laying eggs and you are just not finding them. Chickens can be very creative about where they lay. It may be that you are not finding their secret nest or a predator is finding the eggs before you are. Rats and snakes and countless other animals will take eggs or perhaps they are laying on a neighbours property and your neighbour is benefitting from your hens' efforts.
Of course, at this time of year, hens over a year old may have stopped laying and be in moult or recovering from moult but they will certainly have been producing eggs during the summer. The only way to get their eggs will be to confine them to a run for a week or two, so that they have no option but to lay in their nest boxes. It might help to put curtains across your nest boxes if they are not sufficiently private that the hens don't approve. Some fake eggs in the nest boxes can sometimes encourage them to lay in the right place.

@redheadedhens It is likely that your girl is also laying away somewhere. Tiny "Fairy Eggs" sometimes occur towards the end of their laying cycle as they approach moult or sometimes when they are starting up after moult and can pop out when they are not expecting it so it may be that is why you got that one.... the fact that she is flighty makes it more likely that she has a secret nest somewhere.
Here are a few thoughts.
I haven't found climate to be a factor. However, day length is the primary factor to initiate or delay a lay cycle. Your hen reached POL about a month and a half or so after summer solstice so that likely is what has delayed ovulation.
The acorn sized fairy egg likely didn't contain a yolk so ovulation never really took place. Anything entering the oviduct will accumulate some albumen and get wrapped in calcium.
I have not found that comb/wattles to be an absolute indicator of laying and definitely not squatting. I haven't had a hen squat for me in years. I currently have an older hen that stopped laying when she molted in late August and hasn't laid in 4 months but her comb has been bright red and large for the breed the whole time just like pullets that have been laying. They're all the same breed.
I once had an Orpington hen who never got a large red comb, it was tiny and pale yet she laid very well.
What I have found to be an indicator is the space between the pointy pelvic bones. If the space is less than 2 fingers width, they aren't laying eggs because they can't pass one. When laying is imminent, the space will widen.
Another thought is you said they were all fed the same but you didn't say if it was layer feed, or some other feed and if layer, when that was started.
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Nov 23, 2010
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St. Louis, MO
You don't need to have a wild goose chase to catch her. Just pluck her off the roost right after dusk and you can feel for the pelvic bones in the dark.
So an area of concern for me is you started layer at 16 weeks, she has been getting a diet of ≈ 4% calcium for 24ish weeks without needing it to build egg shells. Since we're just a week from days getting longer, hopefully you'll get some soon - for her sake.
 

redheadedhens

Chirping
Apr 26, 2016
38
30
82
San Diego, CA
True, I’ll try to check her this evening. Valid point about the feed, however I’m not entirely sure how that could be avoided? The other two started laying right around that time.

You ended with “for her sake”. Because you think her health may be at stake? She eats, drinks, runs, moved, roosts, etc. like any other normal happy chicken. Surely she would seem to be in some state of distress at this point if something was wrong?

Or maybe you meant because I called her a free loader. No one will eat her, we’re too soft for that. She’ll just be a worthless, well fed chicken as long as she is healthy and happy.


You don't need to have a wild goose chase to catch her. Just pluck her off the roost right after dusk and you can feel for the pelvic bones in the dark.
So an area of concern for me is you started layer at 16 weeks, she has been getting a diet of ≈ 4% calcium for 24ish weeks without needing it to build egg shells. Since we're just a week from days getting longer, hopefully you'll get some soon - for her sake.
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Nov 23, 2010
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St. Louis, MO
No, I didn't think you were going to invite her to dinner because she is a malingerer.

Many on here will vehemently disagree with me but birds not building egg shells shouldn't get that much calcium. The remedy is to feed a grower or similar feed that is low in calcium and provide oyster shell in a separate container for those still laying.
A chicken has 2 kidneys with 3 segments each. Excessive calcium will cause atrophy or swelling of kidney segments. As long as there are two functioning segments, the bird will appear normal and continue to lay eggs. When one of the remaining segments fails, they can die within 24 hours with no symptoms.
I'm not saying this will happen but is a possibility.
There was just an extensive discussion on the topic.
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/lets-talk-about-layer-feed.1283837/page-6#post-20754171
 
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redheadedhens

Chirping
Apr 26, 2016
38
30
82
San Diego, CA
Excellent information, thank you for sharing it. I hadn’t even considered it at this point because I just keep assuming this week is the week she will start.


No, I didn't think you were going to invite her to dinner because she is a malingerer.

Many on here will vehemently disagree with me but birds not building egg shells shouldn't get that much calcium. The remedy is to feed a grower or similar feed that is low in calcium and provide oyster shell in a separate container for those still laying.
A chicken has 2 kidneys with 3 segments each. Excessive calcium will cause atrophy or swelling of kidney segments. As long as there are two functioning segments, the bird will appear normal and continue to lay eggs. When one of the remaining segments fails, they can die within 24 hours with no symptoms.
I'm not saying this will happen but is a possibility.
There was just an extensive discussion on the topic.
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/lets-talk-about-layer-feed.1283837/page-6#post-20754171
 

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