Troubleshoot my eggless 30 week old hens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by flourishaustin, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. flourishaustin

    flourishaustin In the Brooder

    Oct 21, 2014
    Austin, TX
    I have a small flock of 3 different hens: an ameraucana, a buckeye, and a brahma, and they are each 30 weeks old. Now, my disclaimer is that I am a first-timer with chickens, but it seems like most 30 week old hens should be laying by now, and mine are not. They appear to be in good health - they are big and fluffy, have clean vents, have clean water, and eat organic layer mash with plenty of calcium content. They have 2 nesting boxes with golf balls in them to trigger happy egg thoughts. They also stay in their run and coop most of the time, but when I left them out to wander my small yard, I track their steps closely, and there's no way I'm missing a hidden nest.

    So what could I be doing wrong? I'm at the edge of my seat for eggs! Help!
  2. evemfoster

    evemfoster Songster

    May 6, 2014
    NE, Wa.
    It is possible they are too fat to lay. You didn't mention giving them a lot of treats so too fat may not be the problem. But, In your search to figure out what is wrong you will need to rule this out. If they are too fat the fat accumulates under the skin and in the rear end area where the eggs form. If there is too much fat in the rear end there is no room for the eggs.

    Pick the birds up and give them a gentle feel. A thin hen will have a breast bone like a ships keel you can feel the hard mussels on ether side of it under the skin. With a fat hen you will feel a soft fatty layer and hardly feel the mussels. You want a hen in between the two extremes.
  3. lightchick

    lightchick Crowing

    Apr 3, 2014
    Welcome to BYC! The breeds that you have are more likely to lay eggs later then others, but they should start laying soon. Have you seen any squatting or any of them sitting in the nest boxes?
  4. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. .....

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    Can you post photos of the birds? It can help to assess their signs of physical readiness for production. This will also enable us to rule out the possibility any cockerels - for whom the wait for eggs would certainly be a long and fruitless one. What is the protein content of our layer mash? I have seen many reports of delayed, interrupted or just slow production that specifically mention organic feeds - often the effort to be "organic" (eta - effort on part of feed producers) comes at the expense of necessary nutrients for certain things like egg production.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2014
  5. flourishaustin

    flourishaustin In the Brooder

    Oct 21, 2014
    Austin, TX
    The first two are of Eleanor the ameraucana.
    The third image is of Brené the buckeye.
    The last is Rosa the brahma, who is the largest. I also had a silkie that was definitely a cockerel and these chickens look distinctly hen-like in comparison.
    I don't know the protein content of their feed off hand though, and I don't *think* I over indulge them with treats- they mostly get kale and carrots from the garden and sometimes left over cooked rice.

    Any guesses?
  6. bobshere

    bobshere Songster

    Honestly i think just give them time. They look perfectly healthy. The only other thing I would ask is are they getting sufficient amount of light. I know the days are getting shorter in most parts so im wondering if they are getting enough light such as 12-14 hours...if not put a light on a timer to come on early in the morning.....mine comes on at 4am and turns off when it gets light outside....
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    The protein content, and all other nutritional info, should be on the label on the feed bag.

    I like to feed an 'all flock' 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat and have calcium available at all times for the layers, oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.
    The higher protein crumble offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer.

    Last fall I had 5 adult hens and 3 pullets and started increasing light up to 14 hours a little late(early October) and the pullets did not lay until December.

    Sometimes first year layers will lay all winter without supplemental lighting, sometimes they won't.
    Second year layers need 14-16 hours of light to lay regularly thru winter. Last winter I used a 40 watt incandescent light(this year I am using a CFL) that comes on early in the morning to provide 14-15 hours of light and they go to roost with the natural sundown. Here's pretty good article on supplemental lighting. Some folks think that using lighting shortens the years a hen will lay, I don't agree with that theory but I also plan to cull my older hens for soup at about 3 years old.
  8. JoshU

    JoshU Songster

    May 16, 2011
    Ada, Ohio
    You should be getting eggs any time now. Most of my buckeyes lay by the 6 month mark. Some earlier and a few later.
  9. KYTinpusher

    KYTinpusher Master Enabler

    Sep 3, 2011
    Northern KY
    I have found that pullets hatched in the spring and summer that mature during the shortening days of fall will begin laying at a much older age than pullets hatched in the fall and winter that mature during the lengthening days of spring. Usually 6 months and up for those that start laying in the fall and winter, and 18 weeks and up for those that start laying in the spring. Just give them a litlle more time. Once one starts, they probably all will. [​IMG]
  10. flourishaustin

    flourishaustin In the Brooder

    Oct 21, 2014
    Austin, TX
    Thanks all!! You are instilling calm and patience in me. I also wonder if the Texas heat delays laying... other people I'm connected with who have similar chickens of similar ages are in northern parts of the country. It's still in the 80's here so I'm hoping the cooler temps will encourage my girls.

    I'm also curious if there are environmental / coop factors that could be improved to start egg production. We use pine shavings and hay as bedding. Their nest boxes are just milk crates with lots of bedding. The coop naturally gets a lot of light and the hens let themselves in/out the run. Here's a pic of it (with my handsome boyfriend).... it's nothing fancy, it was recycled to us but I'm hoping it's doing an okay job. (There's an 8 foot long x 4 foot wide x 2.5 foot high enclosed run attached to it now, too.)


    Anyway, I'm clearly just ruminating. If there are best practices for this urban - Texas chicken-keeper that I haven't addressed and might be missing, please let me know. and thanks again y'all!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: