Please help me with my egg laying problem

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by red reaper, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. red reaper

    red reaper Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 30, 2008
    North Central Missouri
    Ok, I'm kinda new to chickens although we had them when I was a kid,and later when I first was married until a tornado took the coop and all the feathers off those chickens, now at age 38 married with children I got back in them because I enjoy them. So I've been around them and am a farmer,but dont know a lot about egg laying,cause and effect.

    4 weeks ago I started out with 6 red star sex links 2.5 yr olds and 6 black star sex link just starting to lay pullet eggs. I was getting about 4 a day, and slowly the black pullets started laying pretty regular. everythings fine and dandy

    we then thought we'd like to have more eggs to sell at school to other teachers where my wife teaches. I went to a local sale for small animals and bought a variety of chickens of different breeds and colors. I bought 9, 2yr old barred rock hens, and one older barred rooster, 6 buff orphington pullets, just ready to start laying, 2 leghorn hens aprox 2 yr old and 2 cornish cross pullets from a 4H project. for a total of 31 hens. I bought these hens 2 weeks ago. When I got them home, the following week we got about a dozen eggs a day, then starting this last week about mid week, they dropped down to about 4 a day, then to 1 a day, then 4 a day.

    Here's some info to help you judge whats going on.

    New coop, with great fencing, nice roosts for the hens, and a 10 hole aluminum nest box with straw.

    The chickens can be locked up in the chicken yard, 16x16ft, with a 6'x14' chicken house built on the end of a loafing shed for horses, or I had doors built into the shed so they can roam the yard, barnyard or where ever they want. So when locked in the coop, they cant be laying where the eggs can be hidden, and I dont think they are eating the eggs either, cause the nest straw isnt slimy like an egg has been broken in there.

    The first few days the chickens were put together, the natural pecking order set in, and they had a few squables,but nothing severe. The rooster is very calm and older, so he hasnt ruffled them up any and I have not seen him mount any hens yet to this day. (just wanted him to hear him crow of a morning anyway) He's not real bossy around the hens to get them stirred up.

    The hens have as much feed as they need, 18% mash, and ground corn with 17% hog feed protein mixed in. I also have fat hogs they like to spend most of their time with during the day, and basicaly lead very relaxed lives, the pigs do not care they are there at all, and most of the time the chickens spend their days laying in the dirt right next to the pigs in the laofing area within a foot of them. They also have a pig feeder full of oyster shell which I never really see them use at all, but is right by the feeder.Should I be scattering it out on the ground so they pick at it better? yet they have a gravel road they walk on regularly. They have two five gallon waterers with clean water all the time. This is also august so the days are still long, but the heat has not been much of a problem this year, and in fact mid 80's for the norm, and I also have a window fan in the coop for extra ventalation.

    I think the red stars may be coming off of molting,because they are getting some white feathers filling in thin areas, but the black stars are started pullets, the barred rocks look good too and were laying good when I got them two weeks ago. They have some feathers missing on the tops of their head but not much else, from the last owner. The buff's started laying a pullet egg or two the last few days.

    The birds look healthy, perky, have food,water, light,plenty of space during the day, not much stress, I do have a dog tied up when they are out,but they even get within a foot of him and dustbathe where he's worn the grass off, so the dog isnt causing stress and shouldnt be be a problem. I have kids, but they dont seem to cause much problems for them either. I havent had any reason to think they are diseased, and have normal bowel movements, except when they are let outside every day, some get very runny or watery, assuming from lots of bugs, and lots of green grass.

    The only weird thing I can think of is the two cornish cross birds almost sound like they are purring at times, almost like they have a cold,but are very very healthy looking and fat as a tick.

    SO, can anyone tell me why they all of a sudden quit laying eggs? and it surely cant be molting, because all of them quit pretty much. I'd think some may molt,but not all at the exact same time.

    and second question, will cornish cross hens lay decent or should they be eaten?

    Thank you all very much for any help, and if you have questions you need me to answer please ask. Kristin
  2. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Welcome to BYC, Kristen, and welcome back to chickeneering!

    Sounds like you've got a wonderful setup there, if my hens read your post they'll be packing their bags and moving to your place.

    There's a lot of reasons why hens stop/slow down laying, sometimes you can determine the cause, sometimes it will forever remain a mystery. From your description of the situation, I would guess it's from the stress of having new birds move in, and the stress to the new birds from being moved. Perhaps combined with the molting too.

    The grit & gravel will help form stronger egg shells. If their eggs seem fine, just keep the grit available to them to grab as needed, if you're getting thin-shelled eggs, add the grit to their feed to make sure they're getting enough.

    Since they're laying so few now, perhaps you could worm the whole flock as a preventative measure. At least you won't be sacrificing as many eggs while you're waiting for the Rx to run through their system.

    The Cornish Xs are best suited for meat, and best processed at 8-10 weeks, long before they would be old enough to lay. I don't think they would make reliable layers even if you kept them until they matured.

    I wish you much success and many enjoyable times with your new feathered friends!
  3. oldegger

    oldegger Out Of The Brooder

    May 4, 2008
    Monclova, OH
    Way to new at this myself. But a couple of things stand out. Throwing all those strange birds in with your flock with out a quarantine period is just asking for problems. Even healthy looking birds can bring in things your flock haven't been exposed to. I would only feeding a good quality laying mash. Corn is high energy food. something they due not in mid 80 degree weather. It will raise there body temperature and cause heat stress.
  4. red reaper

    red reaper Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 30, 2008
    North Central Missouri
    Thanks for the welcome, this looks like a good community with very helpful folks.

    What type of wormer should one use, in the water? that would work if I keep them penned up,but if I let them run the yard, they can drink from the hog waterer. Is there a type of wormer for feed?

    How long will it take for them to settle in and start laying again? if its from moving stress and new bird nervousness? and why would they have laid good for a week after they arrived?If this is the case.

    If it would be any type of disease, what could it possibly be? and what symptoms would I look for?

    as for introducing new birds from strange flocks, I know its not ideal,but after dealing with cattle and hogs and horses for years from salebarns, I've become used to the worry of bringing home disease, which luckily I never have to my knowledge.

    Chickens are fairly hard to come by here,and the sale is about my only oppertunity.And I dont have time nor want to mess with raising them from chicks.

    Thanks for the tips on the cornish, they look like they ought to start laying anytime, but I may look into having them buchered or take them back to the sale.

    thanks for the info,and anymore would be appriciated from anyone. This is a great site for information and makes for great reading.
  5. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2008
  6. rooster-red

    rooster-red Here comes the Rooster

    Jun 10, 2007
    Douglasville GA
    Just needed to point out that grit & gravel help with the diguestion of food and has absolutely nothing to do with strong egg shells.

    Calcium produces thicker, stronger egg shells, you can give it in the form of free choice oyster shell or feed egg shells back to them, just bake and crush them.
  7. spatcher

    spatcher Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2008
    Virginia - Southside
    If I had to pick just one thing it would be the ground corn you are feeding them. Stop that, and the eggs will resume! Trust me, been there and done that!
  8. red reaper

    red reaper Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 30, 2008
    North Central Missouri
    Ok, you are the second person to post that, can someone explain why the ground corn would be causing them to quit laying? is it the for the reasons oldegger listed on heat stress,and high energy food? or are there other reasons? your posts are very helpful as I'm soaking this information in.
    One reason I ask this,is a fellow my wife teaches with, feeds corn gluton,left overs from the local ethenol plant. It is high in protein, and he reccomends it. does he not have the ground corn problem because its been cooked?

    my local CO-OP sells bagged ground or cracked corn to many local flock owners,and this has me a little confused as to why corn is causing the problem.

  9. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    My girls have access to their feed (layer crumbles) and water 24/7. I give my birds treats of scratch, (oats, sunflower seeds, once in awhile bird seed, cracked corn etc.), in small quanities as these are treats. I also give them vegies, fruits, most everything that I can grow. I do grow a lot of corn and watermelon especially, also tomatoes, squash, root crops, the list can go on. I feed them everything except potatoes. I figure they will eat what they want. I do free range them. I make sure they have plenty of grit and oyster shells. I pretty much get an egg a day from each one of them. Excessive heat/cold and stress can cause them to slow down and even stop laying. If you have introduced new birds to the flock this can cause them to slow down too. Also if your birds are moulting they will slow down and sometimes stop laying while they are moulting. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2008
  10. Omran

    Omran Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2008
    Bagdad KY
    hello red reaper,
    I found this article about layers in a magazine it might help you. I posted it under please read important article.
    try to read it .
    It did answer a lot questions for me.

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