Only averaging 1-2 eggs/day for 5 hens!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by kdm158, Oct 28, 2016.

  1. kdm158

    kdm158 New Egg

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    Oct 28, 2016
    Hi everyone! I've been keeping backyard chickens in Georgia for a little over a year now. I have 3 Easter Egger hens, 2 Barred Rock hens, and 1 very big tough Barred Rock rooster. I provide a basic layer pellet plus oyster shell for minerals, plus an assortment of leftovers like fruit/veggie peels and whatever my toddler won't eat (anything from oatmeal to chicken nuggets, lol). During the week I allow my chickens to free range all day on my 7 acres, but they mostly keep to the front 2 acres where it's not wooded. On these days they barely touch their feed so they must be subsisting on bugs and whatnot. On weekends though I generally keep them in their coop (which has a partially covered run attached) because "Big Daddy Roo" is one mean bird!! He'll chase down and attack my toddler, the big bully. (But he's great at protecting my hens, which is why I got him.)

    Anyway, my problem is that during the warm months I was usually getting only 3 eggs/day ... 2/3 Easter Eggers laying and 1/2 Rock Barred laying. I thought maybe they just don't like the heat, but as soon as the temps dropped down to a pleasant 70-85F per day about a month ago, the egg production plummeted to 0-1 from my Easter Eggers and 1 from my Rock Barred! The birds have fresh water daily, I don't see any missing feathers or overt signs of illness, and I haven't witnessed anyone nitpicking each other. I considered that maybe the hens were choosing to lay somewhere other than the coop, but production stays the same when they're not free-ranging. I read somewhere that you can tell if any specific hen isn't laying by looking at the color of her comb/feet, but I can't see any difference between my hens. They seem happy with a variety of terrain to choose from and generally stay right at the edge of the woods where I think they feel safest.

    Does anyone have any ideas?? I'm a little frustrated because I did my research before choosing which types of hens to get, and I'm getting somewhere in the range of 1/2 - 2/3 of the eggs I was expecting. Boo!
     
  2. kdm158

    kdm158 New Egg

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    Oct 28, 2016
    I just realized that I forgot to say how old they are. The Easter Eggers will be 2 this winter, and my Rock Barred are somewhere in the 1.5-3 range (bought them from a larger flock and the owner didn't know exactly). Could it be that they are just slowing down due to age? When I read numbers like 280 eggs/year is that only for the first 2 years of the hen's life? What is a reasonable expectation for years 3-5?
     
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Your hens will be molting soon if they haven't started already. They will quit laying and it will take a few months until they resume again. I would switch to a higher protein feed to help them through it, something with 18-20% protein, like a non medicated grower or an All Flock ration with a separate bowl of oyster shells.

    Age is definitely another factor. Hens lay their best during the first season, than production drops after that each year. Most hens over 3 years will lay sporadically, and at a decreased rate, and some will even quit, others will keep it up for a few more years.
     

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