UPDATE! on mature hens I got for egg laying aren't - UPDATE! :)


13 Years
Jul 21, 2010
I bought a few more hens from a friend some weeks ago--about four--because I wanted more eggs than the ones I'm getting from two hens. But, they have not layed a single egg since they've arrived. We free range, feed organic feed, give plenty of water, etc. They are cooped up safely at night and have a half acre to roam in. They have a wing clipped because the first few days they would fly up into trees instead of coming in at night. And I know they can't get out now.

Just a few days ago I shut them in for a couple days and no eggs. They actually tend to nest outside otherwise, but I'm very good at finding their nests. I keep an eye on them. However, the new hens don't seem to take off by themselves to nest at all. We give them all the food they can eat and they happily peck away outside all day. I have 11 pullets and hens altogether and only get 10 eggs a week from two hens at present! They are all supposed to be good layers! Well, except the Cochin which we got only because my daughter was in love with her! ;-)

Anyhoo, previously when I bought mature hens it only took four to five days before they layed. This has been four weeks or so. Any thoughts? Also, I have several March-born pullets not yet laying!

Thanks folks!
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How old are they? I ask because if they are over a year old they may be getting ready to molt. The first big molt occurs when chickens are somewhere between 18 months and 2 years. It also usually happens about this time of year.

If they are not molting then I would just counsel patience. Sometimes it can take a bird about a month to settle in to new surroundings after a move.

As far as the rest go- have you considered adding some supplemental lighting? With the shortened days they may not be getting enough light to lay. What breeds are they? Some breeds are not winter hardy and/or do not lay well during the winter. I have an EE that was laying like a trooper until about a week and a half ago... and then nothing suddenly. I am pretty sure her lack of laying is related to the shortening days. My other EE has yet to lay an egg and is 28 weeks old. I am thinking she may not lay until spring.

Good luck.
Well, they were born in March sometime, so that makes them 7 months old or more. The two laying hens are Wyandottes, and give me about five eggs a week each! The two that should be laying (they were from the same friend and were born the same day as the Wyandottes) are Delawares. The 7-month-old pullets are...1 Cochin, 2 Rhode Island Reds, 1 New Hampshire, 1 Speckled Sussex, and 2EE's. I believe they all should be pretty good in winter, and it is mild here compared to many places (we live in Northern California in the foothills). Right now it's still in the 60s and 70s most days.
Oh, and my silver laced Wyandotte is getting ready to molt, but currently still laying 5 eggs a week! The Wyandottes are laying champs, but I'm getting concerned about the rest. We really do still have a lot of daylight here, and warmth, but I don't know. We live in Northern California. I've only kept chickens for a few months, though.
I'm "bumping" my post because I'm still hoping for a little help. Thanks!

----so sorry, just found out bumping is against the rules...I am still new, so sorry about that----
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Jodi, there could be any number of things going on. Are you absolutely sure the older layers are only a year or two old? If they are older, they may simply not lay that much. The highest number of eggs is laid the first two years, then they begin to slow down after that.

It could be that they are under some sort of stress. There could be a predator lurking about, or they're simply not finding their place in the pecking order.

I hate to say this, and I'm sure this is NOT very likely, but they COULD be egg eaters...laying eggs, and then one or more of them is eating them. Do you have them cooped with the others? Are you getting eggs from the others, and not these gals? If that's the case then I'm sure you don't have egg eaters.

This time of year, most all breeds slow WAY down; this is nature's way of giving them a break - egg laying takes a lot out of them, and they need the break to recuperate & prepare for the next egg-laying cycle. They need 12-14 hours of daylight to produce eggs. Some folks add artificial light to extend the normal daylight hours...I personally do not do this, as I feel it sort of goes against mother nature. But, many folks do add extra light - it's obviously a question that only you can decide on!

Best of luck!
Thank you, Wynette. You seem to have a lot of experience, so it's nice to hear that it may be many things.

The thing which is most puzzling to me is that these hens (Delawares) are the same age to the day (got them from the same friend) as my laying Wyandottes. They are laying and nobody is eating their eggs. The hens are all about 1 1/2 years old. They are cooped up at night and free range during the day. I watch the hens and the nonlaying ones never run off by themselves to lay. And the Wyandottes only took a few days to start laying after we brought them home. And, I will say, the 7 mo old pullets aren't laying yet, but again, got them from the same friend and many of hers are laying. Again, same age as the others. We have a good watchdog and a fence, so don't get too many predators up close, and it's not bothering the other hens. I guess I'll just have to be patient. It may be the light, but I'm not sure that a whole month makes much sense there. I'd understand if they were only laying a couple a week instead of none at all. These are supposed to be decent winter laying birds and it has barely turned to fall weather here.

Thanks again.
So, update...

Suddenly today I have four new layers! Two are pullets for sure, and two I'm not sure about.

One is small and light brown and I found Ginger, one of our Rhode Islands sitting on it in the rain!!! Another small light brown one was laid on the cement by a pullet near my husband's engine hoist where the chooks were hanging out under a canopy in the rainstorm (all but Ginger, that is!). You might be a redneck if...your chickens roost on your engine hoist in the backyard. ;-)

The other two are smallish but not as small as the others and they are darker brown. Medium to dark I would say. Definitely darker than any others we have ever had. And they look nearly identical. I don't know what color or size the Delawares lay, but they are the only other breed we have two of that haven't been accounted for size and color of egg (except our EEs, which I assume will be bluish, greenish or olive). Anyone know? Maybe I'll post that separately.

So, yay! But the mystery continues...

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