Strange chicken behavior - no crowing and no eggs

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Laura1166, Oct 13, 2009.

  1. Laura1166

    Laura1166 In the Brooder

    Jun 18, 2009
    Osceola, MO
    I apologize for all the following details, but I think they are necessary to see if someone can help us figure this out.
    We bought 93 acres a year ago August and got our first batch of chickens as soon as possible. We built them a nice spacious chicken house right away and left them to free range within a 4 or 5 acre clearing. It was the heavy bird rooster special with some hens included, 56 total. We had a very healthy batch. The roosters were crowing all over the place and had started in on the hens as we started butchering them. They were about 4 months of age. By the time it was all said and done we 11 hens and 2 roosters (I know, one too many, but the boys had fallen in love). The birds we butchered were full of meat and tasted great.
    In Feb. we ordered 50 Brown Leghorns (straight run). We lost a lot of them to coyotes, but had about 25 grow to adulthood. The roos were crowing before we butchered them and then we recently got rid of the 12 hens, because they were laying their eggs in the woods which wasn't very helpful to us.
    In March we ordered 25 RIR and 25 BR, straight run. Some have been lost to coyotes over the summer. We butchered these roosters last week at 6 mos. of age. Even though they were a heavy breed, they were not very meaty. We butchered them much later because we never saw them mature into adult roos. They never crowed and they never tried to mate with the hens.
    In June we ordered 50 more fry pan special with some hens included, and 15 guineas (which have been reduced to 8).
    SO... just in case you aren't staying up on all the math, we now have maybe 100-125 chickens.
    The problem is that none of the mature roosters that are left are crowing, even the two from the original generation have stopped. And none of the roosters are chasing the hens.
    And none of our hens are laying. We might be getting 2 eggs a day. The RIR and BRs should have started laying in Aug. or Sept.
    Our original batch of hens have been molting, and should be finishing up soon, because they look like they've made a complete transformation. Could the RIR and BRs be molting and not producing as well too, even though they are so young?
    Could it be that we have too many chickens - we have the 4-5 acre clearing, but they are free to range far beyond that?
    Could it be a disease?
    Could it be worms?
    Could they be deficient in something? We have been feeding them layer and scratch and they have a ton of bugs and plants to eat. We also have supplemented their water with ACV.
    Why aren't our roosters being roosters?
    Thanks for listening and any thoughts on this are greatly appreciated.

    *I forgot to add that it's been almost 2 months since we've had any eggs to speak of.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2009
  2. rhoda_bruce

    rhoda_bruce Songster

    Aug 19, 2009
    Cut Off, LA
    Okay....I've been where you are. If I had every chicken back that was taken from a preditor, I could supply a quarter of my town with eggs.
    First of all, unless you can babysit your birds 24/7 I wouldn't give them that much of a run, unless it is completely covered and it doesn't sound like it is. You need to make sure the fence will keep the birds in and dogs, cats, racoons and such out. Then there is the chicken hawk problem. Provided you can put up a bunch of treated post throughout your run and attach clothes line wire or rebars from one to another, you can obtain netting fairly cheap and just put a canopy over them all. Then attach the netting to the fence at the edges. This will cost a lot less than the fence did. My net is from Lowes and was intended for deer and cost about 13 dollars a package of 7'X 50'. I am pleased with the results. I would start by limiting their free-range and slowly covering them up. It does no good to have chickens if it is just to feed the local preditors and not be able to find eggs.
    I think, with the amount of chickens you have that you must have several nests that you don't know about. That habbit needs to be broken.
    As to the guineas.....I recommend reading,"Gardening with Guineas." If you give them free-range, they will hide their eggs, unless you give them no choice for a season. Coop them, alone, without hens just for one season of egg laying, so they know how you want them to act. When its not laying time, no problem....give them free range.
    All this free-range stuff, is good to keep your birds healthy and happy and for free food, but when you can't find your eggs and your birds start disappearing, its not working.
    About the roosters.....are they really roosters or hens with large wattles? I don't know. You seem to not mind killing unwanted roos, so if things don't change, just make one more purchase of barbeque special or frying pan special at McMurrays and have a beauty contest and eat the non-winners.
  3. Laura1166

    Laura1166 In the Brooder

    Jun 18, 2009
    Osceola, MO
    Thanks for your kind response, but actually the predators aren't really a problem any more. We have a really good farm dog now. We had a problem with predators considering that the dog we used to have was included on that list. We now have a dog that is doing a good job.
    We also have gotten rid of the chickens who were laying in the woods. We saw that they weren't going to do us any good.
  4. Uppity Peon

    Uppity Peon Songster

    I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you are more upset about egg production than roos not crowing. With all that acrage I bet your hens are hiding their eggs. Or maybe the chickens are eating the eggs, or something else is eating them.

    If it's really about the roosters, post some pictures. Maybe what you are assuming is a roo is actually a hen?
  5. Laura1166

    Laura1166 In the Brooder

    Jun 18, 2009
    Osceola, MO
    Thank you all for your kind replies. I think I overwhelmed everyone with too many details. Sorry about that. I'm certain which chickens are roosters and which are hens.
    I spoke with Peter Brown about it yesterday and he thinks that I did not keep my chicks on chick starter long enough and that the roos are deficient in protein. They do eat a lot of bugs (not as many recently), but he suggested that I supplement their feed with dry cat food, so I'm going to give that a try. I think that it also might have something to do with the lack of sunshine around here. We went from summer to late fall within a week in August and it's been overcast and rainy ever since. :-( I know if I'm missing the sun, then the chickens must be too!
  6. DIMBY

    DIMBY Songster

    Jun 14, 2009
    Western Colorado
    I would still bet a doughnut that your hens are hiding their eggs. I free range mine in my backyard and even tho I thought I was being vigilant, one of my young hens went a bit broody and hid a couple of eggs in a her 'secret' nest. It was only by watching her closely and noticing some rather peculiar behavior that I found them. They're wiley little critters!
  7. TXmom

    TXmom Songster

    Have you checked them for lice and mites? I just found out mine have lice, and that is probably the reason my egg production dropped dramatically last month. I found the nasty little bugs in the feathers under the wings. Check there, and around the vent. I treated them with Sevin and now I don't see any more bugs on them. I'll be re-treating them in a week and then again in another week. (I'll probably switch to permethrin instead of Sevin...I think it's safer.)

    Also, it's extremely possible they're hiding the eggs, or they're getting eaten, either by the chickens or by snakes, rats, skunks, etc... Another member was upset about having to buy eggs at the store because her egg production had dropped. Then, she did a thorough search of her yard and found over 4 dozen eggs in several different clutches!!!! Crazy chickens!!!

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