Shouldn't my girls be laying by now?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by HouseMouseHens, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. HouseMouseHens

    HouseMouseHens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 31, 2012
    Portland, Oregon
    My Coop
    Hi everyone! I havn't been on in a long while, but I have a question.
    My girls are between 30 and 34 weeks old, and so far, we have not seen a single egg. Shouldn't they be laying by now? We have 10 chickens: A welsummer, cuckoo maran, barred rock, silver and blue laced red wyandottes, a RIR, a blue andalusian, a Silver Dorking, a buff orpington, and a speckled sussex.)
    We do live in Portland, Oregon so it's mildly cold and is just now staying light out past 5pm... I'm guessing that has something to do with it. We have checked every day for eggs, with nothing. Our farmstore guy gave us a glass egg to put in the nests, but we have four nest boxes so were thinking of getting a couple easter eggs with sand for the others. They do not free range, they are in a 15x9 fenced in coop with a roof, so they can't be hiding them....

    I'm confused, most people it seems had eggs between 18 and 20 weeks. What gives???
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    That’s a hard one to explain. With that many hens of those breeds, which I assume came from a hatchery, and at that age, you should be seeing at least a few. I’ve had some start at 16 weeks. I’ve had some wait until 9 months. With hatchery birds, 20 to 24 weeks is not usually an unrealistic expectation to see a few especially with ten of them.

    Light might be a part of it for some. I don’t add light to get them to lay. I have had some pullets start laying in early December when the days are really short and still getting shorter. Some of their hatch mates waited until February to start when the days get longer. You are further north so your length of days and nights will be different than mine too.

    If you have electricity out there, you could put a light on a timer to come on maybe an hour before current sunrise to trick them into thinking it is spring.

    Putting fake eggs in the nests will not start them to lay but it will help show them where to lay. I tried putting sand in plastic eggs and gluing them shut but the chickens eventually scratched them apart while rearranging the bedding. Now I use golf balls.

    You’ve taken care of my first comment, them hiding eggs. The next option if they are laying is that something is getting them. I don’t know how predator proof your coop really is. Many things will leave some evidence behind, usually egg shells and sometimes a soggy mess. It’s possible the chickens would clean up the shells and get rid of the evidence. Rats, possums, skunks come to mind immediately as something that might take eggs and not bother the chickens, though skunks and possums can and will occasionally kill and eat a chicken.

    It’s also possible one of your chickens has learned to open an egg and eat it. The others will join in eating an open egg. That’s not unusual if the egg is opened. But it is not all that common for a hen to learn to open an egg. Still, it happens. When I had one like that they often left some evidence.

    Some things can take them without a trace. A snake is not likely for you right now but I’ll mention it anyway, partly to make a point. A snake doesn’t come every day. It will eat a few and go somewhere to digest them for a few days before it returns. It’s kind of unusual if something is getting them that they all disappear. Usually other predators will come once a day and any egg laid later will be there when you look. It just does not sound like a predator.

    If eggs are disappearing without a trace, I have to mention that a human thief would do that.

    What I suggest is that you put a real egg out there and see if it disappears. That might tell you something.

    I suspect they are probably just not laying yet. With those breeds at that age and with that many, I’d consider that extremely bad luck, but it’s possible. Living animals don’t come with guarantees.
  3. HouseMouseHens

    HouseMouseHens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 31, 2012
    Portland, Oregon
    My Coop
    Our coop itself if predators proof, nothing is getting in there. The run isn't as things are always digging under, so if they are laying eggs in the run something could be eating them, but I think if they were we probably would have seen at least one egg by now... I've never seen any evidence of eaten eggs, the pine shavings in the next boxes have been moved around, but are totally clean. They have obviosuly explored up there, but no egg shells or goop. I doubt any person is stealing them because you'd have to come all the way in our fence and around the backyard to get to the coop, plus we have two big dogs that would go NUTS if someone came in the yard.

    Thanks for the reply! I think I may put a real egg in there and see if its gets eaten.. that is, when I go buy more eggs. Ugh! Every time I buy eggs I get so mad at those dang chickens! Haha! :)
  4. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    I think Ridgerunner has all the bases covered. Good luck!

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