1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Return to "normal" production?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by elsimonito, Oct 18, 2013.

  1. elsimonito

    elsimonito New Egg

    4
    0
    7
    Sep 19, 2013
    I'm new to the forum, and new to any kind of issues with chickens, although I've had them for almost two years now. So, I'd appreciate any help the community can give me!

    The background:

    I got my first chickens about 18 months ago, 5 Ameraucanas, 8 Buff-Orpingtons, 8 Rhode Island Reds, 10 Cornish Cross and two Turkeys.

    Over the course of these past 18 months, I lost one turkey to stress, dressed one out at 25#, taught the Cornish Cross to roost in the freezer, added four Barred Rocks and three turkeys this spring, lost 2 each of the Rhodes and Buffs to my Black Lab, sold some here and there, and up until this summer, had no major disease or other problems impact the egg production. I was even surprised with a rooster in my "straight run" of chicks!

    Then the problems came...

    I had one of the Rhodes go broody on me while I was on vacation. Not a problem, I was getting enough eggs that it didn't matter that one was taking a break. Several weeks later, to my delight, out hatch 10 cute chicks! They were growing and doing great, until about three weeks after they hatched. I checked on the coop, as I usually do at night, and found two dead, one missing and the mother hen in a, how do I put this, bad mood? My coop looked like a small dog had gotten in and dug up the dirt floor and sent all my other hens to the rafters. Over the next few days, I slowly lost chicks. I couldn't figure it out! Until, I came face to face with the skunk. It was too late though, as all my chicks were now gone.

    I called animal control, they said to take care of the skunk myself. So I did.

    Then, immediately after that, my chickens got, what I believe to be Foul Pox (thanks to a lot of posts about it by others on this forum). Even the three turkeys got it! Through this, my egg production dropped, but still I'd get a few eggs a day. Now that my flock is all healed up from the foul pox, I'm adding food to the feeder one night, and I see that the two toms are grabbing any chickens that bet between them and the food and ringing them like rag dolls, before tossing them aside! Who knew that turkeys could be so mean? Not me!

    So now I've separated the chickens from the turkeys, and I've not had an egg in a few days.

    Having read about what causes drops in egg production, I'm fairly sure that I've had two or three (Changes in routine, stress, predation, etc).

    My question:

    After all of this, when should I see production start back up? How long do I wait before my flock starts their roosting period in the freezer? I hate feeding them and getting nothing in return (besides the enjoyment of raising them). They have plenty of coop space (a 14x14 coop) and an 1/8th of an acre free from predators.

    Thanks for reading all of this, and helping me out!
     
  2. Nutcase

    Nutcase Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,440
    105
    198
    Dec 2, 2012
    Australia
    My Coop
    They might need more time to recover and go back to normal. Oh and, are they displaying any signs of illness or moulting? That could be another big factor.

    Welcome to BYC! :)
     
  3. elsimonito

    elsimonito New Egg

    4
    0
    7
    Sep 19, 2013
    I'm not sure on the molting. There do seem to be a lot of feathers around the coop, and some of them seem to be growing new feathers on the neck and saddle. Is this indicative of molting?
     
  4. Nutcase

    Nutcase Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,440
    105
    198
    Dec 2, 2012
    Australia
    My Coop
    Sounds like the late stages of moulting. As for the feathers in the coop, maybe have they been fighting and/or picking on each other?
     
  5. elsimonito

    elsimonito New Egg

    4
    0
    7
    Sep 19, 2013
    I'm unsure about this being molting vs. growing new to replace lost due to pecking, mating, etc. Several of my hens have had bare backs for nearly a year, I think due to my rooster being quite aggressive in his "rooster" duties. With the toms around, he seems to have backed off, and I've not seen any fighting between the chickens. They are all quite keen on getting out of the way of the turkeys though, hence why I've separated them.
     
  6. elsimonito

    elsimonito New Egg

    4
    0
    7
    Sep 19, 2013
    Is there a possibility that I've got a flock of egg eaters? I thought that perhaps the turkeys were eating the eggs, but now that they are separated, still no eggs.
     
  7. Nutcase

    Nutcase Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,440
    105
    198
    Dec 2, 2012
    Australia
    My Coop
    You could always check for egg eating by seeing if the nesting box hay is wet with yolk and shells. The turkeys would have put pressure on the chickens and stressed them out so maybe they are just getting into a new routine.
     
  8. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    5,221
    800
    291
    Dec 25, 2012
    Your hens are molting. Egg laying and molting are both seasonal. Unfortunately egg laying doesn't go hand in hand with molting. Egg laying season is early winter when the days start getting longer to late summer or early fall. Molting season is from early summer (when the daylight hours starts declining) stretching into early winter. All strains of chickens are different in this respect but don't look for much improvement in the egg production department before the new year. Do remember however that as hens age that they lay fewer and fewer eggs until eventually a very old hen may only lay 4-6 eggs a year. Chickens are fun and amazing critters if we will only allow them to be chickens.

    Really add the protein to their daily ration now to help them grow strong new feathers, and worm them and check and treat them now for mites and lice as needed. Don't worry about having to toss eggs, you can't miss what you don't have. Make sure that your hens enjoy at least 14 hours of continuous natural and or artificial light each day, at least until Easter. This will help tremendously. Finally, you should begin thinking about getting some new pullets. An 18 month old hen who started to lay at 6 months is going on her 3rd laying season. LOL, Some new pullets for your old hens to bully and boss around next summer would be nice. [​IMG]Don't you think that the the old guard has earned the privilege?

    If egg production is your main goal then look into getting some plain vanilla white leghorn pullets. As mature hens they should lay at least 300 eggs per year per hen. When doing work years ago for a flock improvement project I documented a few white leghorns who laid one perfect large egg every day for a year or 365 eggs per year. Because white leghorns have had all desire to sit on eggs or brood chicks bred completely out of them it is best to buy pre-sexed white leghorn chicks if you want them for replacement hens. Oh, don't forget the fowl pox vaccine.
     
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by