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!

Starting a real problem with new laying pullets

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by cornish20, Dec 15, 2011.

  1. cornish20

    cornish20 Out Of The Brooder

    35
    0
    22
    Dec 8, 2011
    Have noticed a trend...

    Preface.. We just moved to a new house (this summer), bought new chickens, and have a new feed supplier. (so basically starting over from scratch.

    We have about 12 young pullets, and some cockerals to rebuild off of. Most are plenty old enough to lay, but they seem to be very slow at coming to POL.

    The really funky part-- A pullet began laying in Oct- laid about 20 eggs and quit cold turkey. Was looking at her the other day, and noticed she is missing tons of feathers- not sure why. Pretty sure she didn't molt- even though she's a first year pullet-- and pretty sure I never saw her try to become broody. Just tossed it away as some freak deal..

    had a second pullet (different breed), start laying in NOV-- laid about 30 eggs, quit cold turkey 3 days ago.

    We have been feeding a reccommended custom mix of feed- 18 or 19% CP (as we were wanting to hatch eggs this winter- and due to predator problems must keep our birds couped).

    Since the first pullet quit laying, we've decided to switch over to the commercial layer feed offered by the local elevator. We're still wanting to hatch eggs, and no that on 16% feed, will not be able to- so I've purchased enough SBM to up that CP level to 18%.

    Any thoughts?

    My thoughts are- not enough Ca-- even though we offer free choice Ca Carb- most of the time, plus have added Ca in the feed (3 or 4%) What else would cause pullets just to quit laying like that? I've never seen pullets quit their first year after only a few eggs.

    It's not been super cold- for about 4 days was down to the 15-30 range-- but fot he most part over freezing all fall...

    For the most part, some of the pullets are smaller than i'd like them to be, but when I weigh them they're near 5-7 lb and the bigger cockerals are up to 8-10 lbs.

    I'm at the end of my knowledge...
     
  2. BlazeJester

    BlazeJester Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,276
    12
    141
    Aug 2, 2011
    Midway, GA
    Worms. If you have not wormed them, do it. Worms are wherever there's dirt. It's normal, but if it has been rainier than average they could have a heavy load. Search the forum for worming information and look for posts by Dawg53.

    It's also nearly winter solstice. That means the days are the shortest they will be all year. Hens need something like >12 or 14 hours of daylight to lay. If you aren't supplementing with artificial light, this is the time of year you won't get eggs from breeds that aren't hardcore layers from a hatchery. You didn't mention what part of the country you live in (you will find that adding this to your profile helps A LOT when people try to respond to your questions)... but it's likely you are getting less than 10 hours of daylight. They'll start laying again in spring.
     
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Most likely the winter solstice. You did not mention supplemental lighting. Once light falls below 12 hours, which is has most places in North America, the laying can suffer. Although, most first year pullets aren't that bothered. If you choose to add lighting, do so in the pre-dawn morning. Add a 1/2 hour each day until you reach 5 a.m. Using a timer, have it shut off at 5 pm. It will be the increasing light, not just the length of light, that often gets them going again. Or, just wait until late February and they'll start up again on their own.
     
  4. BlazeJester

    BlazeJester Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,276
    12
    141
    Aug 2, 2011
    Midway, GA
    Worming while they're not laying adds the benefit of not having to throw away eggs for 24 days [​IMG]
     
  5. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    34,028
    450
    448
    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I would guess there is more than one cause. It sounds like there is feather picking happening, which points to some kind of stress. Of course the move and predator attacks contribute to this.

    You said you must keep them couped due to predator problems. If they are used to being outdoors this could be a part of it as well. Do you have plans for a predator proof run for them, so they can get outside?

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=423023
     
  6. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Quote:Agree. Boredom and confinement the likely causes, of course.
     
  7. FarmGirl01

    FarmGirl01 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 5, 2008
    AR
    I have some that just up and quit. Then I noticed feathers everywhere. Molting. I know it late in the year. [​IMG]
     
  8. BlazeJester

    BlazeJester Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,276
    12
    141
    Aug 2, 2011
    Midway, GA
    My girls always pick the most inopportune time to start molting - right when it starts getting down into the 30s at night, and no sooner. They look awfully cold, but at least they're nice and plump on the inside! [​IMG]

    Quote:
     
  9. cornish20

    cornish20 Out Of The Brooder

    35
    0
    22
    Dec 8, 2011
    Thanks for your thoughts- but I'm thinking I still need more opinions.

    Location.. Western IL

    They were dewormed with Ivomec twice this fall.. once in Oct, once in Nov. They are also on virgin land, which has not had poultry on it, for likely 30 years.

    I don't think it's feather picking- not the typical picking spots- it more like she went broody- without showing signs of broodiness... You know, barer breast, barer under the wings- not lost any wing feathers, or back feathers. These pullets are hatched in April, May, and June... I can barely believe they are molting already.

    It's been a long time since we've had a predator attack- lost some this summer (July), but the birds we lost, were before this current set of young birds were obtained.

    We have not added supplimental light- although I never have in my career of raising chickens (15 years), and it has never really effected first year pullets- especially once they start laying.. old birds yes, but rarely young ones.

    Like I said, I'm out of thoughts and options... and think it must be nutritional related...

    They have an open front coup- to the south.. so it's like being outside without the mud of actually being outside (last 3 days mainly).

    I'm extremely pleased with the development of the cockerals... All look superior and have grown tremendous to this point. The pullets, on the other hand are smaller, skinnier, and not as pleasing... especially since they're not much for laying and remaining so...
     
  10. BlazeJester

    BlazeJester Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,276
    12
    141
    Aug 2, 2011
    Midway, GA
    Did you get the pullets from the same source? Are they the same breed? Did any of them fall ill as chicks? There are several illnesses that, if survived, can result in "unthrifty" hens... but I don't think they'd lay solid and then quit if that were the case.

    Since you have a new feed supplier it is possible that there is something imbalance in the feed. I went to a new (to me) mill the other day to pick up chick feed and observed an interaction between a *real* chicken farmer and the mill clerk (obviously had nothing to do with operations and knew nothing about anything). Apparently the 5-way feed the mill has been mixing was not to the chickener's liking and he was on the phone with a higher-up. So it seems some mills just do it because it's requested, without knowing anything about nutritional requirements. The guy who helped me obviously knew nothing about it.

    You could see if you could get this feed supplier to order a national brand feed for you (Purina, Nutrena, etc). Not knowing what kind of feed supplier this is it's hard to say, but a small place that relies heavily on the same customer base would likely work to accommodate you.

    ETA: The last juvenile molt occurs around 6 months. However, from the bare areas you describe it does sound like you have a broody (or several?) as pinfeathers would be growing in from a molt.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by