Sixteen Chickens Hardly Laying at All!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by willowvale, Oct 22, 2014.

  1. willowvale

    willowvale Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 15, 2011
    I have sixteen hens, eight of which are about 2 years old, the other eight of which have just started laying. In the past few months, egg production has dropped gradually to where I now get about a dozen eggs or fewer a week. I've had egg eaters before, and at first, thought that that must be what was happening again, but I can find no evidence of it, on the girls' beaks or in their boxes. The girls seem healthy and stress-free. Poo looks normal (although I haven't thoroughly examined it yet). I know I have a mouse problem right now...Is it possible that mice are taking ALL of my eggs? Or could parasites, worms, or some disease be responsible for this? I'm at my wit's end with this.
     
  2. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Are the older 8 in molt?... is normal this time of year in the US and they would have stopped laying. The younger 8 ... do you know how many are laying (what breeds are they) what age pullets start laying can really vary. Do they free range at all? Are they on a regular Layer diet free choice?
    With mice, you should be seeing egg shells or remains.
    If you haven't, you might as well try worming your birds (since they apparently aren't laying anyhow).
     
  3. willowvale

    willowvale Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 15, 2011
    They are already all being fed nice, high protein layer feed, free choice. I suppose this could all be due to moulting, but I've never had hens take this long to moult! And all at the exact same time? There are feathers in the coop, but I don't observe bare spots on the hens themselves. Maybe I just haven't seen the moulting process enough times to recognise what it looks like in different birds.

    I don't see any evidence of egg shells or dried yolk, so I guess it isn't mice (thank goodness).

    It probably wouldn't be a good idea to de-worm if the girls are moulting, right? And if it is a moult, is there anything I can do to speed the process, beyond high-protein feed?
     
  4. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Are you seeing pin feathers at all? That would pretty much mean molting. You've double checked for lice/mites etc? If they free range at all don't forget to check for hidden nests.
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/articles/217/moulting-a-natural-process here is a nice article on molting (note the months are backwards from the US). Usually a hard molt will take at least three months or so ... do you have added light in the coop? If they are molting they probably won't lay again until spring unless you add light to about 14 hours a day. Most older hens / second winter birds do seem to molt in the fall, some take longer than others or do more of a gradual molt than just drop everything at once (like the article mentions, the production breeds tend to be bred for a fast turn around, more ornamental breeds tend to drag it out.) Pretty much every bird I have that is 18 months+ or so is or has started molting in the last month or so.
    I usually worm during molts if I can just because they aren't laying anyway and don't have to worry about medication withdrawel times with the eggs.
     

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