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stopped laying. any advice out there?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by kjisanne, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. kjisanne

    kjisanne New Egg

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    May 18, 2013
    I have 5 hens that started laying in late August. They were doing great, though one of them was a slow layer. Then about a month ago we had a couple of scares with them getting out. This resulted in the dog taking an interest. We thought he had killed a bird each time but thankfully the hen was alive. The dog issue is taken care of now. I only got 2 eggs after the last incident. I noticed feathers all over the coop so figured the stress shocked them into an early molt. However, they still have not started laying again. They eat fine, drink fine. When I let them out to roam with my supervision, they are fine. Can anyone offer me any advice? Is there anything I can do, should do?

    They are being fed regular 16% layer pellets. I've added the occassional treat of cracked corn when the nights get near freezing or lower.
     
  2. loveourbirds

    loveourbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    is your water freezing - if the water freezes some hens will stop laying. some will even stop laying when the temps get in the 40's
     
  3. jetdog

    jetdog Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you have a light in the coop to give them 12 to 15 hours of daylight, my light is on a timer and comes on at 4:30 am and my egg production has not gone down at all. The days are getting shorter every day.
     
  4. Pathfinders

    Pathfinders Overrun With Chickens

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    It's possible you may be lowering the protein too far with the scratch. 16% Layer pellets are formulated to provide basic, but the minimum nutrition for a flock. Personally, I prefer to use an 18% flock raiser for layers, and one that contains animal proteins as well. Chickens need animal protein, and this time of year there are no bugs or lizards to eat, so it's up to us to provide it for them.

    There are a number of ways to include animal protein into your chickens diets:

    - Find a feed that includes it, like Purina's Game Bird feed line
    - Add in some cooked ground beef or raw trimmings from your local butcher shop if you can get them to give you some
    - Add in a small amount of high quality, non-poultry based cat food, such as Evo Herring and Salmon dry cat food: http://www.evopet.com/products/1431, which is about 50% protein
    - Add in some catfish feed pellets, which are generally about 35% protein.
    - Add some 30% Turkey starter mixed into your regular ration.

    That, plus adding light to the coop as described above, should bring back the laying.

    Last resort, sprinkle a small amount of cayenne pepper on their feed, which will warm up their reproductive systems and kick start the laying again. But that should be done very sparingly.

    Good luck!
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    So the problem started about a month ago. Many pullets will skip the molt their first winter and continue laying throughout the first winter without extra lights. Many, not necessarily all. Some will cut back on how much they lay in winter with the shorter days, others not so much. Each individual is unique. They don’t all handle things the same way.

    Stress from a predator attack can sometimes induce a molt, just like stress from other things, like a change in the pecking order, moving them to a new location, or them running out of water. Some hens handle this type of thing without a problem.

    When production drops like that I probably should mention them hiding a nest or something getting the eggs but from your post I just don’t get that feeling, especially with the feathers.

    What I think happened is that the combination of the dog and the days getting shorter has started a molt in some of yours but not all since you are getting a couple of eggs. How long will it last? That’s hard to answer. Some hens are fast molters and some are slow molters. That’s not about how fast the feathers grow back but how fast they fall out. The slow molters drop only a few feathers at a time. It’s hard to tell they are molting just by looking at them, they always look fairly good. This process can take several months, 4 or 5. Some are fast molters. They dump feathers by the handful. You can see bare skin. These may be over the molt in a month or so. Most hens fall in between the extremes.

    Let’s confuse it some more. You can have two different types of molts, full blown replace every feather molt or what is called a mini-molt where just a few feathers are replaced. Mini-molts won’t last as long as a full-blown molt and stress often causes these instead of a full-blown molt. But maybe with the days getting shorter the combination kicked them into a more serious molt.

    Of course it’s not that simple. We are dealing with chickens after all. Some hens will start laying when their molt is over, even during the short days of winter. Others will wait until the days start getting longer in the spring. Which will your unique individual hens so? I don’t know.

    So what can you do? One option is to keep doing what you are doing and wait it out. This shall eventually pass. You might feed them a higher protein snack to help the feathers grow back faster. I don’t do that but a lot of people do. If you have electricity out there, you can increase the amount of light. Again I don’t do that but many people do and it seems each one has a different opinion on how is the best way to do that. From reading the extension websites with articles from scientists that have studied it, the professions seem to recommend increasing the light maybe 15 to 20 minutes for 2 or 3 days, then increase it again. Whether morning or night they don’t say. The study is on a flock with total light control so they control morning or night. I suggest using a timer and whatever way is most convenient to you if you decide to add light.

    Don’t expect the lights to give you instant results. I butcher a lot of hens and pullets, some laying and some not. There is a big difference internally between the two. It takes a while for a hen that is not laying to switch over to laying mode. Some people do get instantaneous results, but those hens were pretty close to laying anyway. The addition of lights just kicked them over the edge. So if you add lights, don’t get impatient. It may take a month for the lights to produce an egg. It just depends on what condition they were into start with.

    Good luck with it. You will eventually get more eggs. The silver lining in all this is that when they start laying again the eggs should be larger.
     
  6. kjisanne

    kjisanne New Egg

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    May 18, 2013
    Thanks everyone for the great advice! :) Still no eggs but I'm not a proponent of extra light in the coop. I figure nature has a cycle and we should follow it. I'll keep doing what I'm doing. I don't give them scratch that often, I know it isn't the best thing for them. I had considered looking into providing a little more protein since they were/are loosing feathers. I'm just glad this isn't a full drop-every-feather molt. I feel so sorry for chickens when that happens but I know it has to. Aside from the feathers in the coop and one hen looking rough in one little area, you'd never know they were molting.

    I'm not sure about their water freezing. Usually by the time I'm awake it would have melted back to liquid. We're not having the really hard freezes down here yet. I guess if they aren't laying again by march or so, I might have a more serious problem.
     
  7. loveourbirds

    loveourbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    extra light in the coop isnt something that i recommend either. of course i do it, we use lights for heat purposes too. last summer i learned that when you turn the lights off it induces molt, something im trying to avoid later.
     

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