Orpington stopped laying - suggestions?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by krista74, Nov 8, 2014.

  1. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I bought my Buff Orpington in March 2014, and was told she was POL. She started laying around early June, giving us around 5 or so eggs a week. They were on the small side, but otherwise ok. Then she started laying soft shelled eggs, laying them from the roost normally and occasionally she made it to the nest to lay one. The soft shells lasted about 5 to 6 weeks, and she rarely gave us a fully formed egg during that time.

    I put some calcium powder into the girl's feed to try and address the problem, and sure enough her eggs came good again. Not only that, they increased in size! Although she was only laying 3 or so eggs a week, they were perfect every time. I assumed this was a problem with her laying ability in particular, as opposed to an overall diet problem, as all the other girl's eggs are fine.

    The 'good eggs' lasted about four weeks. I've not had a single egg from her in 2 weeks now. I was wondering - well, why? And what can/should I do to help her?

    Some basic details: Flock of 5 hens, 1 roo, and 8 chicks - she is not the Momma Hen. Free access to quality layers pellets, oyster shell and grit. Free range time from about 4pm to 8pm each night. No secret nests that I can see! All girls wormed and dusted for lice/mites regularly. Everyone healthy, active and hungry, lol. It's Spring here and has been unseasonably hot - today was 38 degrees (100F.) I am of course providing iced water and shade. No changes to coop, run etc. No new birds bought in. Only one bird has moulted (the Momma Hen) but she has not moulted as yet and is not showing any signs of it either.

    Is this just her? Do I have a girl who is just destined not to lay? Or is there something I can do to help her? She seems super happy and healthy - she's just not paying rent!

    - Krista
     
  2. spydertoys

    spydertoys Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chickens need 12-14 hours of daylight to lay. With the shorter days upon us, you may need to provide some artificial lighting. Some will lay all winter without it..but most don't.
     
  3. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Except the OP is in Australia, and it is spring there.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2014
  4. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    krista - how is her weight? Particularly around her keel bone. What does her comb look like? (pale and shriveled or bright red)
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2014
  5. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No, I don't think that's the issue. We are in Spring here (Australia), so it gets light at about 6.30 am and is not dark until after 8pm. Surely that is enough light for her? The other girls are still laying - even my broody hen who just left her chicks three days ago has started laying again!


    Her comb is bright red, as is her face. It looks like it always has, and nothing like my broody hen's comb which shrivelled up and turned ple after hatching chicks. For all intents and purposes she looks like she should be laying.

    Her weight is ok I think - on par with the other girls anyway. I can feel her keel bone, but it's not sticking out. She is an Orpington so she always looks kind of chubby, lol, and she is one of the weightier birds to pick up. I had a RIR which I had to put to sleep about 4 weeks ago (suspected internal layer after stopping laying to brood chicks) and her keel bone was really prominent. She had no flesh on her breast at all. This girl is not at all like that.

    It' so strange. As I said, she looks like a laying hen. She is still as active as ever. She does sit in the nest once or twice a week, but leaves nothing at the end of it. I don't think she is going broody, as she only sits for half an hour and then gets up and leaves like she had a nice little rest! She does not appear to pump her tail or have any of the signs of egg peritonitis. She does not look uncomfortable in any way. This morning she practically flew out of the nest when I came in with the scrap bucket, and she will fight off the other to get the best treats!

    I think I will try and check her vent next time she is in the nest and see if she looks like she has laid recently. Like I said though, I have done a thorough sweep of the yard and came up with nothing. I know they can be sneaky, but I tend to watch them like a hawk, and she is always out there with the main group. Plus, she used to sing the egg song REALLY loudly, lol. So much that our roo used to join in! I have not heard her in a long while.

    I really am at a bit of a loss on this one. Maybe she is just not meant to lay? Her egg laying history is not great. I used to read posts all the time from people who said "My hen is not laying" and always thought it seemed rather obvious why that might be. With this girl I really have no clue! I look forward to any ideas or suggestions.....

    - Krista
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2014
  6. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just a quick update....

    I caught my Orpington girl today (despite my rooster's best efforts to stop me) and we had a good look at her.

    Comb, wattles and face all bright red. Comb and wattles quite plump looking also. Feet good - no injuries, no bumblefoot present.

    A few old egg clusters from a previous lice infestation (as in three or four) but no live lice evident under wings, around vent or neck area. No major feather loss anywhere, no irritated skin.

    Condition good overall, quite a plump girl and reasonably heavy as you would expect an Orpington to be. I can feel her keel bone - but not prominently though.

    Vent looks about 1 inch wide (I would consider this as about normal?) and pinkish in colour. Maybe not quite as 'moist' as my RIR girl's vents but certainly not dried up looking. This is such a pleasant pastime, isn't it!

    She looks, from my examination, to be in good health, and if I didn't know better I would think she was laying.

    Hubby and I did a thorough search of the coop, run, and our free-ranging areas. We came up with nothing. And we looked EVERYWHERE, even under old tin sheeting!

    I check the nests every day and they are never 'wet' to the touch, so I don't suspect an egg-eater.

    What's going on? Where are my eggs?!

    - Krista
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2014
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Did you check the width between her pelvic bones?
    Sharp points on both sides of vent: less than 2 fingers width apart = not laying, 2 or more fingers width apart = should be laying.

    if you're free ranging, I'd coop them up for a few days:
    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 2-3 days can help 'home' them to lay in the coop nests. 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.
     
  8. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Sounds like everything is okay health wise (at least externally) for her.

    Now that you mentioned this, I do have a hen (mixed breed) that hasn't laid all year. Her comb is bright red, she's very heavy and healthy looking - eating and drinking fine. She is only 2 years old. I just wrote it off to possibly the beginnings of laying issues or ascites. But now that I think about it, she could just be too fat. Hens that are too fat can quit laying.
     
  9. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No, I haven't checked her pelvic bones. Next time I get hold of her I will though. Keeping them cooped up at present is a bit difficult as it is so darn hot here at the moment. However, when (if) the weather cools down I will do just that. I figure 38 degrees (100F) is a little too hot to be locked in a metal coop though.


    Interesting. How do I put a hen who is meant to have free access to layers pellets on a diet? She is bigger than the other girls, but I had always put that down to her breed rather than her form. Oh, poor chunky Orpington!

    These girls are all about the food. I'm sure if I lay down in the coop for long enough they would eat me too, lol! What would you recommend I cut from their diet to lose weight? They get a bucket of mixed vegies each morning, free access to layers pellets and occasionally a scoop of cracked corn or wheat if the weather turns cold in the evening. My guess is that as it gets hotter (it will get up to 114F in mid Summer) they will eat less naturally anyway.

    Thanks for our comments!

    - Krista
     
  10. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    I wouldn't put her on a diet unless I was sure this was the issue. The only way I know of is to restrict feed, which might not be in the best health for your other hens.
     

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