Sudden stop to laying

vaiaata

Chirping
9 Years
Aug 17, 2010
6
1
64
My chickens quite suddenly all stopped laying about six weeks ago. About the same time their food consumption dropped to about a quarter or less of what it was previously. They all seem healthy, except Rooster has trouble standing up in the morning and often has to sit down during the day. One of the hens had a mild version of these symptoms but seems to be getting better. I feed them as I have always fed my chickens over the last 10 years - with about 4/5 of layer granules and 1/5 scratch grains. I let them out two hours a day to forage in the garden and forest. They have never had an issue like this. They all seem to be pretty happy but whereas before they were always ravenous in the morning, they seem only mildly interested in food now. I know for a fact they are not laying outside and hiding their eggs, as on two occasions I had to leave them locked up for three days at a time and there were no eggs on my return. I read about Marek's disease. But from what I can see there are no bumps or protrusions around the base of their feathers - two of them are moulting so that would be easy to spot. Most of the hens are two years old - a few are 3 years. Any advice would be most gratefully received.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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SW Michigan
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They all seem healthy, except Rooster has trouble standing up in the morning and often has to sit down during the day. One of the hens had a mild version of these symptoms but seems to be getting better.
That doesn't sound good.
The calcium in layer feed can be unhealthy for male birds.
Did this start when you got a new bag of (possibly old or moldy)feed?
Maybe they ate something funky out in range area?

I read about Marek's disease. But from what I can see there are no bumps or protrusions around the base of their feathers
Not sure that "bumps or protrusions around the base of their feathers" has anything to do with Mareks.
 

Cryss

Crossing the Road
Nov 12, 2017
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In mixed gender and mixed aged flocks one should not feed layer feed. That's what Flock RIser feed is for. Males cannot assimilate all of that calcium in layer feed. Only give layer to flocks of females that are mature enough to be laying eggs. Give a mixed flock Flock Raiser and keep a separate conainer filled with oyster shell. Males and young non laying females won't eat it.
 

vaiaata

Chirping
9 Years
Aug 17, 2010
6
1
64
That doesn't sound good.
The calcium in layer feed can be unhealthy for male birds.

Thanks. I didn't know this. Except one of the hens has the a milder version of the same symptoms


Did this start when you got a new bag of (possibly old or moldy)feed?

Possibly. I had stored it a while - and this is Florida heat and humidity. As soon as I noticed the problem I threw out that bag of feed just in case.

Maybe they ate something funky out in range area?

That's also quite possible. Our land includes some wetland forest and there may be some poisonous bugs they have consumed. Though this would be the first time and they've browsed in the forest for years.

Not sure that "bumps or protrusions around the base of their feathers" has anything to do with Mareks.
I thought I read that this was telltale sign of Marek's. May have my wires crossed.
 

vaiaata

Chirping
9 Years
Aug 17, 2010
6
1
64
In mixed gender and mixed aged flocks one should not feed layer feed. That's what Flock RIser feed is for. Males cannot assimilate all of that calcium in layer feed. Only give layer to flocks of females that are mature enough to be laying eggs. Give a mixed flock Flock Raiser and keep a separate conainer filled with oyster shell. Males and young non laying females won't eat it.
Thank you. I hadn't heard of this regarding roosters - though of course it makes sense. I have always kept chicks apart and given them their own feed. I will look for Flock Raiser at the feed store next time.
 

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