Sympathy molt? Or just winter brake?

JMotuzick

Songster
Oct 31, 2017
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462
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Northwest Connecticut
I see this asked a lot this time of year but just wanted a bit more advice.....

We have 23 chickens. One is a rooster, 10 are only about 24 weeks old. This leaves 12 mature hens. Of these 12 3 (SLW) are about 40 weeks old (2-28-18 hatch date) the other 9 are at least a full year old. Most of these 9 are in molt, it appears one EE is not.

We are only getting one green egg every other day from the EE. The SLW have not laid a egg in about a month?

Not looking for a ton of eggs and not even looking for 3 a day. I’d be happy with 6 a week from the 3!

We have a 8x12 coop with 24-7 access to another 8x12 covered run. Daily my DW opens the coop in the AM to a 20x60 run that is much less secure but gives plenty of light air space etc. they are eating organic non-gmo grower pellets mixed with the same crumbles as available from the feed store. (They can’t seam to stock the pellets even though I’ve asked, every bag is a special order for me.) They have free chose to oyster shells in a separate feeder. Horizontal nipple water I fill every other day. Things did get cold (10f) about 3 weeks ago for a few days. I put the water heater in and confirmed it was working. About 8” of snow about the same time limited the time in the big run for a few days, in that time I spread wood chips on top so they could run I did most of a 10x10 area. They have been back at the full run for about 2 weeks now. When it got cold I did pull a second water bucket, and there was a couple days DW forgot to let them out into the bigger run. We do not have a light on a timer and would like a bit of a brake.


We are trying to keep changes to a minimum and hoping for more eggs soon. Any thoughts would be welcome.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

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Some of mine are just coming back into lay, and a few are just starting to molt. The best you can do is feed a higher protein ration, which sounds like you are, and wait. Daylight will begin increasing in about 3 weeks which will help to fire some up. Most hens lay at a decreased rate during this time of year if they are laying.

Making sure they have water most of the day is important too as eggs are mostly water.
 
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PirateGirl

Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist
Mar 11, 2017
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It's just the way things are this time of year. The only thing that might induce some laying would be supplemental lighting, but I'm not sure that would do it for those that are molting.

It's been about 2 weeks since I've gotten a chicken egg :( My girls are almost 2 years old and in various stages of molt as well.

Last winter I didn't get many eggs at all until after the solstice, but it steadily picked up from there.

I currently have a dozen eggs in the fridge. That's it. That number is shrinking faster than it's growing. In summer I average 9-10 eggs a day from my flock. Today I got one.

Just do your best to provide a high protein food and water that isn't frozen and hopefully they grow some feathers and get through it all quickly!
 

JMotuzick

Songster
Oct 31, 2017
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Northwest Connecticut
They have water 24-7 in the covered run.
I guess my question is really about the 3 Wyandotte’s I have always read that a young hen will lay until first molt witch should be about 18 months for these 3.
 

PirateGirl

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I'm sorry, I'm not sure on that. My spring chicks did not start laying until after solstice their first winter and laying was not entirely consistent until spring. If your birds seem healthy I would not worry too much and just let their bodies rest. If I've learned anything, it's that every bird is different and they seem to have their own schedules when it comes to laying. Hopefully someone with more experience can chime in. I'm only on my second winter with chickens and ducks right now.
 

JMotuzick

Songster
Oct 31, 2017
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Northwest Connecticut
Only our second as well, last winter we had the 9 older hens most of witch where to young to lay. Much like you they started just after the new year. We got them very early and kept them inside with hopes they would lay through this slow period. Originally 4 more of the second batch where to be the same age, but there was issues at the hatchery and we ended up with 2 batches, then chicken math took over! I guess we just need to wait a bit more! I do miss my eggs in the morning though!
 

oldhenlikesdogs

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They have water 24-7 in the covered run.
I guess my question is really about the 3 Wyandotte’s I have always read that a young hen will lay until first molt witch should be about 18 months for these 3.
In my experiences Wyandotte aren't great layers, and they generally will take the winter off, as well as the summer. The gold laced seem to lay the best followed by silver laced.
 

aart

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I guess my question is really about the 3 Wyandotte’s I have always read that a young hen will lay until first molt witch should be about 18 months for these 3.
Some birds can stop laying, and even do a partial molt, before one year of age as they go into their first winter.

Funny, I have an 18+mo SLW who has kept laying when the others have molted and stopped. They do have just under 12 hours of light. It's been a few days now and no egg from her and more feathers, so she may have finally stared to molt.
 

JMotuzick

Songster
Oct 31, 2017
370
462
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Northwest Connecticut
Good info thank you both for posting! Still only 1 EE egg today.... plus a few requests for eggs! I’m hoping that after the new year we will at least have enough for me and DW!
 

JMotuzick

Songster
Oct 31, 2017
370
462
156
Northwest Connecticut
Seams the girls heard me complaining! Two days in a row we got a brown egg! A bit on the smaller size much like it came from one of the Wyandotte’s! Here’s to hoping that we are past the drought!
 

MANNA-PRO

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