What all do I need for my chickens to lay eggs?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ShadyGroveFarm1, Nov 15, 2014.

  1. ShadyGroveFarm1

    ShadyGroveFarm1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    470
    16
    73
    Jul 25, 2014
    SW Virginia
    Hi, I've been keeping chickens for 5 years now and I have quite a few. 5 year old RSL, 3 year old Buff Orpington, 2 Year old Buff Orpingtons and Buff Brahmas, 8 month old EE, Variety of 5 month old hens, and a variety of 2 month old chicks.

    What I'm wondering is just in the past two months or so my chickens have stopped laying. I don't really know anything that I've changed with them. So could anyone provide me with a list of what I need to keep the chickens laying?, from what and how much to feed them to how to house them and all that.

    Thanks,
    SGF1
     
  2. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,576
    165
    158
    Jun 4, 2014
    Victoria, Australia.
    Hi there!

    Feed wise, the chicks that are 2 months old should be on a growers formulated pellet until thy reach POL, at which point they get switched over to layers pellets. The growers formula allows them to develop physically at the correct rate. Everyone else should be on a layers pellet, unless they are moulting at which point they can be switched back to a grower's formula until the moult is over - that is because the growers formula is higher in protein - which they need in order to be able to grow their new feathers.

    All birds should have 24/7 free access to unlimited feed, as well as to crushed oyster shell and grit. There should be multiple water stations available both inside and outside the coop. Fresh vegies such as cabbage, corn, lettuce, cucumber and the like are fine from time to time, as are additional treats of protein such as cooked egg, meat scraps and mealworms, but don't feed anything too salty or anything sweet or mouldy. Free ranging, if possible, is great for them - they can get access to all sorts of yummy bugs and worms, and the fresh grass will contribute to lovely yellow yolks.

    I would recommend treating your flock for worms every 6 months (you can buy a liquid to add to their water to do this) and dusting for mites and lice on a regular basis. Obviously you need to provide a clean, dry, well ventilated coop, and some nest boxes with clean shavings or straw in it - one nest for every 4 birds you keep.

    As far as egg laying goes, birds that are moulting usually cease laying. It should also be noted that as birds get older their egg production declines dramatically. It could well be that the 5 year old hen is no longer laying at all, and even the three year old hens will be reduced in their production in comparison to your younger pullets.

    A final thing to consider is the changing seasons. I'm not sure where you are located, but if Winter is approaching and the days are getting shorter your birds will naturally start to slow down (or even cease) their egg production. To keep them laying you could install some additional lighting in the mornings and at the end of the day, but not everyone recommends that.

    I myself like the idea of letting nature take it's course, and feel that if they are not meant to lay over Winter naturally then maybe they need that little break to get themselves back into good condition for the next season. That is a matter of personal opinion though.

    Good luck with your birds. I'm sure some other more experienced chicken owners will have a lot of extra knowledge to add to this thread.

    - Krista
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2014
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    33,787
    6,905
    576
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I like to keep things simple by feeding 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 also offsets the 8% protein scratch grains they get everyday and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer.

    Older 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. Last year I started the lighting increase a bit late(mid October), the light should be increased slowly, and the pullets didn't start laying until late December. 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.
     
  4. ShadyGroveFarm1

    ShadyGroveFarm1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    470
    16
    73
    Jul 25, 2014
    SW Virginia
    Do you think feeding is a big factor is egg laying results? I feed them all laying pellets from Southern States and then I'm going over town tomorrow and I'm going to pick up some oyster shell and maybe some scratch grain. There is a local grocery store I've been planning on contacting to see if we can get their second hand produce, e.g. like if there is a bag of apples and only one is rotten, then they have to throw out the whole bag. They also have a free-range pen they go into every day.

    Do you know how much the worm tester stuff costs and how much the mite dust costs too. I am also picking up some straw tomorrow and I have pine shavings but whenever I fill the nesting boxes with the shavings they kick them all out.

    I do have some that I think are in a molt, but others are definantly not in a molt and still not laying. Also, I'm located in South-West VA, so it is pretty cold right now.
     
  5. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,576
    165
    158
    Jun 4, 2014
    Victoria, Australia.
    As the days get shorter your hens will certainly reduce their laying, so maybe that is one of the culprits to your lack of eggs.

    I have no idea what sort of prices the lice/mite dust and the wormer costs in the US but over here I pay about $15 for the powder and around the same for a good wormer. The wormer in particular lasts for ages, as you only need a small dose in their drinking water once every 6 months. The dust will usually last me for four dustings (I do it once, then repeat in 10 days time) and that's for 7 birds. I don't do it all the time, but I do check a couple of my girls periodically and if I see any signs of lice or mites they all get dusted. My theory is that if I check 2 out of the 7, and they come out clean, that is a good indication the flock is ok. I check different birds each time to make sure.

    I personally believe good quality feed is essential, but since you are feeding layers pellets anyway you should be fine. Any birds that are in moult will most likely not be laying, but with Winter rolling around I think that's your main issue as far as lack of laying goes. Don't worry - spring will roll around again and you should see more eggs.

    - Krista
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by