Something is up with our chickens!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by debir1966, May 28, 2012.

  1. debir1966

    debir1966 Songster

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    May 27, 2012
    Central Idaho
    Hello!

    We got ten 1-2 year old chickens on April 17th. Here is there weekly production record:
    Week 1: 31 eggs
    Week 2: 27 eggs
    Week 3: 15 eggs
    Week 4: 10 eggs
    Week 5: 11 eggs
    and so far for week 6 we have gotten 5 eggs in 4 days.

    We have 5 buff orpingtons, 1 light brahma, 2 americaunas, 1 production red and 1 *supposed to be* welsummer (but we have never seen a dark brown egg yet!).

    We changed over to a chicken nipple watering bucket the 14th of this month.

    We added a rooster on May 22. They didn't like him very much at first and 5 of the hens took after him, the buffs just went into the hen house and didn't participate LOL.

    We have been feeding them free-feed laying mash and/or crumble, and throw out some scratch once a day. We have let them out to pick greenies whenever the weather has been good enough and we were home (about once a week, but will be starting to range them more this coming week - the weather is supposed to turn nice).

    We have a hen house with 3 nest boxes, each with a golf ball, and plenty of roosting space. They have a small covered run. We have also given then goodies on occassion, alfalfa, some old oatmeal, cucumber peels, etc, but they only get those rarely, it is not a regular thing.

    They appear to be healthy, they are friendly, some of them even come up to you and wait for you to pet them. They talk and scratch and act like normal chickens.

    I have noticed a few feather, but none of them look like they are molting, no bare patches or obvious molting signs. The weather has been up and down, we live in the mountains in Idaho and it has been warm, cold, rainy, hot, etc, lots of regular weather changes. The nights are still getting pretty cool, in the mid to upper thirties and fourties. Day temps have ranged from the upper 40's to low seventies for the most part with a couple days, since we had the chickens, hitting 80.

    I was told they would go off their eggs for a couple weeks after we got them. So my question is, do you think their low production is normal after the stress of changing homes and/or possibly throwing them into a small molt, still after almost 6 weeks? Is there anything else that could be causing them to have such low production?

    Thank you very much for your time!

    DebiR. and the girls (hens!)
     
  2. sherylreno

    sherylreno Songster

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    May 13, 2011
    Reno, Nevada
    This is the time your 1 year olds are molting. You may not see feathers because they will eat them. They need more protein this time as well. The egg count will go down as they molt. My chickens look so scraggy it hurt my eyes. They turned 1 on March 23, 2011. They start to molt any where from 12 - 18 months when it's their very first real molt. In the fall they may have a mini molt and then they won't molt again until fall of 2013. I'm sure that's what's going on with your chickens.

    Along with the stress of moving. Adding any other chicken not just a rooster will do it.

    This sounds all normal. Once the chickens feel comfortable, stop molting and starts liking the boy then they will come back into lay like they did or close to what they did before all of this.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2012
  3. debir1966

    debir1966 Songster

    343
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    May 27, 2012
    Central Idaho
    sherylreno, thank you for the reply! I was hoping that someone would confirm that this is normal, I just thought they would be getting back to normal by now, but of course adding the rooster the other day didn't help probably!

    The hens have totally accepted him now. I went ahead and let them out to range this morning and all the girls came happily out of the hen house but the rooster, who is not as tame as our hens, didn't want to walk past me and started to freak out when all the ladies disappeared around the corner LOL. I finally moved around the corner and he came out and joined the girls out in the field and then proceeded to start crowing!

    We had chickens when I was a kid and I remember them molting... if these girls are in molt they are hiding it very well! None of them have any bare spots or look pinny or slack on plummage at all. I am going to try and remember to pick one of them up this afternoon and check their wing feathers as I have been reading that is where you can tell if they are in a molt or not.

    The americaunas are definitely not laying at all and haven't been for a couple weeks and neither is the brahma. I think the few eggs we are getting is from the orpingtons, which are the older birds, as the eggs have all been consistently the same size, just different shades of light brown.

    Again, thanks so much for replying. It is nice to have found a place to get support and information from such nice people!

    DebiR.
     
  4. sherylreno

    sherylreno Songster

    1,813
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    May 13, 2011
    Reno, Nevada
    You are very welcome! Enjoy the chicken family!
     
  5. debir1966

    debir1966 Songster

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    May 27, 2012
    Central Idaho
    Well, even though the chickens are not naked, they are definitly showing more signs of being in molt! They are looking "ruffled" and there are feathers everywhere! Looks like a chicken blew up LOL.

    Week 6 we got a total of 8 eggs (sigh). But at least I am more confident now thanks to your reassurance that they will get back to normal!

    I am now also letting them out to free range during the day. They love it!

    DebiR.
     
  6. sherylreno

    sherylreno Songster

    1,813
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    May 13, 2011
    Reno, Nevada
    Oh how fun you must be having there! I have a duck and 2 hens being broody. The duck is okay because I have a drake and her eggs are fertile but I don't have a rooster that's old enough to take care of his ladies yet. 3 more months though and fertile eggs are a coming. I didn't know a molting hen would go broody though.
     
  7. debir1966

    debir1966 Songster

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    May 27, 2012
    Central Idaho
    We got 3 eggs today! We have not gotten 3 eggs in one day since May 7th, one month ago. I hope this is a sign that things are about to turn around :)
     
  8. sherylreno

    sherylreno Songster

    1,813
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    May 13, 2011
    Reno, Nevada
    Hopefully things will just keep going up. Yesterday I got 1 egg from 7 chickens, 2 of them being broody.
     
  9. debir1966

    debir1966 Songster

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    May 27, 2012
    Central Idaho
    This morning we got our first green egg in several weeks! Our numbers were up last week from 8 (the lowest weekly count) to 11! This week we have already gotten 10 and have 2 more days left in the week. I am so tickled they are at least starting to go up instead of continuing to go down!
     
  10. debir1966

    debir1966 Songster

    343
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    May 27, 2012
    Central Idaho
    Our weekly count went up again! From 11 last week to 16 this week! And yesterday we got 4 eggs!!!

    I am so thrilled, and my family is too, we have been missing eating eggs (because I told my husband when we bought the chickens that we would not have to buy eggs from the store again LOL). We actually had eggs for breakfast yesterday instead of frugally saving them for baking LOL.

    I am hoping to average over 2 dozen a week during the good laying season, and I have 20 new girls (chicks so it will be a few months LOL) coming the end of this month!

    I might actually have to look into buying some cartons next spring!
     

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