One year old Buff Orpingtons with inconsistent laying

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sonko2010, Aug 18, 2016.

  1. sonko2010

    sonko2010 New Egg

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    Hi Everyone,

    New to the group. My 11 year old son and I have enjoyed raising our 15 Buff Orpingtons since they were day old chicks (Labor Day of 2015). The ladies started laying in late February, off and on as expected, and then we had a great run of 12-15 eggs per day in the spring on 2016. But lately they have really backed off of their laying duties. Now we are receiving only 7-9 eggs a day and every two weeks we might see one day with 11 or 12 eggs. They are not molting and they have all the 16% organic laying crumble they could want. They are free to roam our one acre property during the day and they have a lovely coup at night with a solar panel that extends daylight for two hours past dusk. Recently (for the last 10 days) we've added a cup of meal worms to their diet after the local feed store recommended adding more protein to improve laying. I can't say that it's helped.They behave and look normal, but still low egg counts.

    I would like to see them get back to laying 12-15 a day if possible as it seems they should be in their prime. Any ideas and suggestions are appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Chris
     
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Not sure where you live (including your general location under your avatar can help members to provide appropriate feedback on a number of topics, so you may to consider including it) but if the weather is hot, that can certainly reduce egg production.

    CT
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Free to roam often equals deciding to lay places besides the nest boxes.

    coop them for a few days and see how production is.
     
  4. sonko2010

    sonko2010 New Egg

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    Hi,

    Our ladies are in Northern California where temps are in the 80's and drop to mid 50's at the moment, so not overly hot.

    Chris
     
  5. sonko2010

    sonko2010 New Egg

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    I agree, but in this case, because or property is very open so there are very few places for eggs to hide. Thanks for the recommendation about cooping them up. We have cooped them up for a few days, but the numbers are still low.
     
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    My next thought would be to boost protein, but not just with the mealworms. You can continue those by all means, but I'd change to a starter or grower for a few weeks and see what happens.

    Here's my rationale for that...

    Layer is a pretty tight formula. It's a balance of nutrients the majority of hens need to be highly productive, and to balance costs. Protein is expensive, and excess is not utilized, so why feed additional protein to hens in fairly controlled conditions? No reason to. But...

    your birds are not high production breeds in the first place. They're larger and not as productive.

    Your birds are also more active, being able to roam at will.

    Then, add in that they're getting extra food from ranging....some of that will be protein, but a lot will be carbs and fiber. So, overall the protein level may be too low to support high egg production in your particular birds.



    I'm not saying it's going to be a magic fix, but I'd give it a try for a sack or two of feed and see how things go.
     
  7. sonko2010

    sonko2010 New Egg

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    Good advice, thank you. I'll try going back to a starter formula which as I recall is 18% versus the 16% protein in the layer crumble.
     
  8. eleaserek

    eleaserek Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do make sure to have oyster shell or crushed egg shells available free choice (if you don't already) since a starter/grower isn't going to have enough calcium to keep healthy shells!
    Also something to consider, since they range, could they need to be wormed?
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Will, they are pretty sneaky...
    ......have read many a story where this was stated and after a week or two of being cooped,
    low and behold a plethora of egg in the coop nests,
    and/or a huge stashed nest was found where no human would ever have thought to look.

    Agrees with upping the protein, I use 20% flock raiser type feed with oyster shells 'on the side'.
    But seriously, the only way to know for sure that they are not laying out n the range is to lock them up for a week or more.

    Free range birds sometimes need to be 'trained'(or re-trained) to lay in the coop nests, especially new layers. Leaving them locked in the coop for 3-4 days can help 'home' them to lay in the coop nests. Fake eggs/golf balls in the nests can help 'show' them were to lay. They can be confined to coop 24/7 for a few days to a week, or confine them at least until mid to late afternoon. You help them create a new habit and they will usually stick with it. ..at least for a good while, then repeat as necessary.
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. Naser

    Naser Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Also it is normal for hens to lay less eggs during their second year and they will reduce even further during the coming years, Also egg production drops as the days get shorter. I won't be surprised if they stop altogether during winter months.
    Sorry
    To avoid that you better go for "scattered buying" ie. buy a few every six months or so, so egg production is maintained and you don't get feast or famine situations
     

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