Rooster has been away, Hens not laying 'normal' amount!?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by hylandcreek, Jun 15, 2016.

  1. hylandcreek

    hylandcreek New Egg

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    Jun 10, 2016
    Northern British Columbia
    So this may be a silly question but here it goes anyways!

    I've had to seperate my rooster from his girls, he had a swollen/scabby vent that they were picking at, which is healing up nicely, but I have noticed since that day, the egg production has slowed down... for example, I was getting 18 or 19 eggs a day, and since that day it has been gradually going down...today I only got 12 eggs! Could this have anything to do with the separation? or is it just a coincidence? Both parties(hens and rooster) are 'lost' without each other, and are not acting like themselves. Thank you for reading and I hope to figure this out!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I assume you are north of the equator so winter weather and the molt don’t have anything to do with it. Besides, it’s getting a little late in the year down there for them to start molting. That should have happened months ago.

    A disruption to the social order can cause production to drop. With the rooster removed there can be a shake-up in flock dominance. That’s not quite the same thing as pecking order, but one hen is taking over for the rooster in his absence. While you may not see much if any disruption they are sorting it out. It usually doesn’t last that long.

    What’s the weather been like since you removed him? Severe heat can cause production to drop. Modifying your profile to include your general location can help with some of these questions.

    Another thing I’ll suggest is that you look for a hidden nest. That’s normally the second most common cause of a drop in production, after the molt. Maybe with the change in social order a few hens have gotten confused.

    I’ll mention one other thing though I really don’t think this is it. The critters that normally do not leave any evidence if they take eggs are snakes, canines, and humans. Since the decline was gradual, I don’t think it is a snake. A snake visits, eats a few eggs (how many depends on its size) goes away a few days to digest them, then returns for more. Gradual and consistent are not a sign of a snake. I’ve had personal experience with that. Fox or coyote could take eggs without a sign but if it were one of these you’d probably be losing hens. It’s not them. A dog is a possibility, they might take eggs without bothering the chickens. The thought that it might be a human is kind of creepy but it’s hard to imagine a human being this consistent. I’m mentioning this to mainly say it just doesn’t feel like any of these from your description.

    To me the only silly question is the one not asked. Wouldn’t you feel silly if you harmed your chickens because you were afraid to ask a total stranger over the internet a question?

    Good luck figuring it out. It’s not always easy.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    I wouldn't discount early molt if the OP happens to be in the northern hemisphere. (It sure does make it easier if people would only fill out there profile so we don't need to guess their geographical location.)

    I am seeing signs that a couple in my flock are beginning fall molt early - increase in loose feathers in the coop and run and a drop-off in egg production.
     
  4. hylandcreek

    hylandcreek New Egg

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    Jun 10, 2016
    Northern British Columbia
    Ridgerunner and azygous, Thanks for your replies!

    sorry I am new to this, I fixed my location! Here is a bit more info:

    Location: Northern British Columbia, Canada. right now there is maybe 2, 3 hours tops of 'darkness' which isnt really 'dark', you can still see. So, lots of daylight at the moment and soon it will get to the point where those 2-3 hours of darkness is gone and you can still see all night without a flashlight.

    No snakes here, or dogs that can get in(just people, but our place is pretty protected and not many people around). They have a fenced in run and they cant get out of it. I have searched fo the hidden nest, hoping to come across 10 or so lovely little eggs! but it would be easy to see, and I havnt seen a thing!

    The weather has been mixed; one day it will be hot, the next, cool, but it is normal for here, and the chickens are used to that kind of weather; on super hot days, I was still getting 18 eggs a day. They have plenty of shade, water, food, etc. they love it when I turn the sprinkler on in their run; it helps cool them down and they have some fun. I also give them frozen broccoli/cauliflower/peas!

    The hens are 6 months old now(the rooster is just over a year), When I got them, I was only getting a couple eggs a day. and for a long period of time, I was getting 15-19 eggs a day, but as soon as the rooster was out of their flock, bam, egg numbers dropped. The hens had no 'routine' anymore, no one to tell them when to go to 'bed', ETC. It was quite interesting to watch, I did not realize how attached they can get to a rooster.

    When I first got them, the hens had never been 'outside' so everything was so new to them! The rooster showed them everything(from how to eat and drink, and even eating scraps!) They were raised indoors before I got them, so its been a good experience for them here and they have come along ways. I am guessing they just bonded so well, when he left, it was kind of devastating!

    when do chickens have their first 'molt'? Right now they are all healthy looking, full on feathers, etc. very happy girls overal minus the rooster thing...

    Thank you so much for your replies. I appreciate it!
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    There are different things that can cause a molt. The main one is the days getting shorter. Well technically it’s the nights getting longer but the result is the same. Chickens, like most other birds, wear out their feathers and need to replace them. Fall and winter are typically lousy times to raise chicks so chickens have developed a system where they shed their feathers when days get shorter. The quit laying and use the nutrients they eat to make feathers instead of eggs. Then when the molt is over many start laying again, but some wait until the days get longer and weather gets nicer before they crank egg production back up. This can vary chicken to chicken.

    I don’t know when yours will start the molt from days getting shorter. Mine are not real consistent in when they start. I had a broody hen raising chicks start her molt in August. She was finished and back to laying eggs in October when most of the others started. I often have some start in September, some in November. I’ve never had an adult molt this time of year when days are still getting longer but chickens are so inconsistent you can never say never. Someone can always come up with an exception. Azygous has been around the block with chickens, I trust her to know what she is looking at.

    Something else with yours, since they are only 6 months old. Many times pullets skip the molt their first year and continue to lay throughout the winter and all the next year until they molt in their second fall. Not all of them do that but many of mine do.

    Stress can cause a molt, often a minimolt and not a full-fledged drop every feather molt, but again they are not consistent. Stress might come from them running out of water for a period of time or change like moving them to a new coop. A predator scare can start some. Adding or removing chickens from the flock can stress them as it changes the social order. A sudden disruption of lighting can cause problems, say with artificial lights. A lot of times stress can cause them to reduce laying without going into a molt or minimolt, but stress can kick off a molt too.

    When chickens molt they lose feathers in a certain pattern. They start with the head and neck and work their way down. Some chickens are fast molters, some are slow molters. This doesn’t have anything to do with how fast the feathers grow back it has to do with how fast the feathers fall out. This is controlled by genetics. With slow molters you often cannot tell they are molting by looking at them, but you will usually have a lot of extra feathers flying around. With fast molters they can look pretty naked.
     
  6. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    Hello.
    I am here west of Edmonton in Alberta.
    Your hens laying has slowed because you removed the Rooster. It is all flock dynamics with chickens. Pecking order is #1 to chickens.
    If they can still see and hear him, they want him back. He is their protector.
    Once he is back the ladies will be back in business.
    I got rid of my Rooster because he was mean and attacking me, my hens went on strike for a few days...
    They settled down soon after that.
     

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