To keep or not to keep

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Mistyray_lynn, Nov 9, 2012.

  1. Mistyray_lynn

    Mistyray_lynn In the Brooder

    Jan 16, 2011
    I know a lot of people ask about why they might not be getting eggs. In general I think I understand this, but I'm struggling a bit with the bigger picture.</p>

    Early this summer I had a flock that I loved. They seemed perfect. 6 of them were 1 year old and great layers with an exception of a molt in Dec/Jan. Plus I had a few pullets who were just weeks away from laying. Then the fox.....</p>

    We had only two of the "year olds" left alive. A black australorp and a golden-laced wyandot. I bought chickens from a friend who decided she had too many. I got 2 chickens from her that were a year old and 3 pullets that were the same age as my younger set.</p>
    Here my frustrations began. That was 3+ months ago. The 5 new chickens are all wilder. They do not go back to the house until dark (I live in the suburbs and have tried unsuccessfully to train them with food etc, per suggestions found here) They fly over to the neighbors (over a 4 foot fence) and cannot figure out how to get back. They just run at the fence. And more importantly to me, I haven't really ever gotten any eggs from any of them. I'm ready to weed them out and start again in spring. I am only getting two eggs a day.</p>

    What would you suggest or what would you do? I cannot have more than 10 chickens.</p>

    I have:</p>
    1 Black Australorp - we raised and it is 18months old (she lays, but I'm not sure how often)</p>
    1 Golden Laced Wyandot - same as above</p>
    1 Barred Rock - 18 months, have had for 3 months (she was laying when we first got her, but I haven't seen her extra long egg in several weeks)</p>
    1 Leg horn - 18 months, have had for 3 months (she was laying a bit, but I don't think she has for several weeks)</p>
    1 speckled sussex</p>
    1 silver-laced wyandot</p>
    1 cherry egger</p>
    (each 8 months old, i've had them for 3 months. One was laying-i believe it was the cherry egger, but now nothing from any of them.)</p>

    I am thinking of just getting rid of these three and getting new chicks again in the spring. Is there a reason I should wait on them longer? I'm kinda feeling unhappy all the way around. Am I missing something? I see no signs of moulting and since the 4 older chickens moulted last Jan, I'm not thinking that would be the reason. The leghorn and barred rock are actually fuller and more beautifully feathered than when I get them.</p>

    PS I sure appreciate the insights of fellow chicken owners. It is always so helpful.</p>
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2012
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    There area lot of things it could be. Obviously this time of year the molt is a big possibility. A lot of times, cold weather will shut them down even if they aren't molting.

    There is no telling when a pullet will start laying. I've had them start at 16 weeks. Those were pullets that I hatched from hatchery stock. I have some right now that I hatched hatched April 2 that have not started laying yet. These are from breeder stock and I have no experience with the parent flock's laying habits.

    Ignoring the possibility of the molt, weaher, and they just have not started yet, there are still some possibilities. First (and this is way high on my list from your post) are they hiding a nest from you? It sure sounds like they have the opportunity. It's also quite possible a younger one started out with a hidden nest and then taught your older ones bad manners.

    Is it possible something is getting the eggs? There are a whole lot of wild animals that might eat them and leave no trace, but when they regularly all disappear a couple of things pop up pretty high on my list. Do you have a family dog that has learned the egg song is an invitation to a great snack? When chickens and eggs disappear withgout a trace, I never count out a human either.

    It's possible there are other explanations if they are laying, but a hidden nest or something getting them are the most likely if they are actually laying.

    What can you do about all this? You might try leaving a couple of eggs in the nest to see if they disappear. At least that would help you understand what you are dealing with.

    If you have space, you might leave them locked in the coop or coop and run for a few days. If you start seeing eggs, that will at least tell you if they are laying. You still won't know if something is getting them and you've locked it out or if they are hiding a nest.

    Put some fake eggs in the nests to try to show them where to lay. It's not a perfect solution but it really does help. I've seen examples. If they are hiding a nest, leaving them locked in the coop or coop and run for a week or more may break them of the habit of laying where you don't want them to. But you may have to do it a few times or for a longer time period.

    As far as the wildness goes, you can tame them but it takes work. You'd probably need to leave them locked up and spend time with them consistently, maybe reading a book or knitting while you just stay with them. But that is your decision. If the wildness bothers you that much, you might be better off getting new ones and starting over.
  3. Dutchess

    Dutchess Songster

    Mystyray_lynn, If I were you I would clip their wings to keep them out of the neighbors yard, number one. Two, take a look at the color of their leg skin, if it's nice bright yellow (if their yellow, not white) and her comb/waddles are bright red, chances are that hen is NOT laying. If the legs and comb/waddles are pale in color, that is a good indication that that hen IS laying. When they are laying, it takes a lot out of them and their legs/comb/waddles become pale in color. I would get rid of the ones that probably aren't laying. That's just my humble opinion (MHO). Good luck, I hope everything works out for you.[​IMG]
  4. Mistyray_lynn

    Mistyray_lynn In the Brooder

    Jan 16, 2011
    and then.... today we have our first temperature drop, a whopping 20'F lower and would you believe I got 4 eggs. I'm scratching my head here. :)

    Just for clarification, I stopped letting them out of their yard 6 weeks ago, with three exceptions. Each exception I skipped morning feeding in order to get them back in the run with food, but it didn't work. They don't go in until fairly dark and with a fox lurking close by, I don't just want to leave them out. So now they just stay in. I did do a thorough search of house and run just to make sure I'm not missing eggs.

    I agree I should clip wings, but they are hopping into a bush and over a 4' fence, so i think they could still do it. Anyway.... in they stay for now.

    I do think that maybe my sussex hasn't ever laid yet. And as of today, I am certain my black austr is moulting. I noticed her suddenly looking a little haggard yesterday and about feather loss. She was a really great layer, so I assume she'll be fine I just need to wait her out. We raised her and she's pretty tame.

    Thanks for the advice. I love the thought of knitting by my hens. haha. it's great. And I already read to my 3 featherless chicks in the backyard, so we could just move our blanket over by their yard.

    As for the wattles/combs/legs I had NO idea! I will definitely take more notice of this. I do think I will go ahead and get rid of 2 and get a few chicks again in the spring. Now to make sure I keep my good layers. :)

    Thank you so much!
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Actually bright red comb and wattles means she is probably laying. It's a mating thing. The rooster is more likely to try to mate a hen with a bright red comb and wattles. Just like a fertile healthy rooster is more likely to have a bright red comb and wattles and is more attractive to the hens..

    That comment about the legs loosing yellow color is right on if the original leg color is yellow. The hen uses pigment from yellow legs for the eggs. A good sign of them laying a lot for a long time is that the yellow legs and other yellow parts of her body get a lot lighter. This only works for yellow skinned chickens though. If the skin and leg color is white, black, slate, or something other than yellow, it does not work.
    1 person likes this.
  6. Smoochie

    Smoochie Songster

    Sep 18, 2012
    Fall/winter are typically not good laying months unless you supplement with a light. Some breed are better layers than other.. The leghorn and Plymouth Rock should be some of the better layers (200-250) followed by the Australorp, Wyandotte & Sussex which are good layers (150-200 eggs per year). Not sure about the cherry. Chickens who do not lay eggs or poorly do for many reasons from bloodlines to diseases... Even stress can be a big factor in egg laying.

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