What could make them so late to lay?


10 Years
Nov 14, 2009
Kingman Arizona
I got some chicks in February. It is now October, the birds are 7 months old, and not laying yet! Tell me some things that might hold them back from laying on time?

They are a mix of bantam breeds and some standards, Easter Eggers, Cochin, Old English Game, American game, Plymouth Rock, Brahma. One of the Cochins has a face as bright red as can be, but I have only seen one egg a few days ago that MIGHT have been hers...a small tan egg that showed up unexpectedly last week after months of no laying, and then never came again. You don't think it is possible that something is breaking in through chain link fence lined with chicken wire (no obvious evidence of it, no holes or chewing or digging) and eating all the eggs from about 20 hens EVERY DAY and leaving no evidence? It seems impossible, but surely I should be getting some eggs. I search their favorite outside hangouts several times a day to see if they are laying somewhere in secret, and I do not find anything. I have a few old hens around 5 that were laying pretty decent still, but stopped suddenly for a molt a few months ago and then did not start again, I'm expecting they are done, and they're going to the freezer this weekend. I have some that should still be laying, they're about 2 years old, and they stopped, did not molt, and never started again. For a while my roosters quit crowing, a couple of months or so, but now they are back at it in full force, crowing and fighting all day long, so I don't know what was up with them. I am so frustrated I am about ready to butcher the whole flock and start again with different birds, all they do is eat and eat and eat and never give back.
We have HOT from May through December. But other people's birds are laying up a storm. I have friends with Rocks and Games and Leghorns and Rhode Islands and Easter Eggers and Buff Orphingtons that are laying fine in the heat...some of my birds have come from those flocks. If the birds I have are not going to lay in 80-105 degree weather, then they are not going to work here, because we have that most of the year.
Their coop/run area is as shady as I can make it, and I mist it with water too on super hot days, plus when they are out free-ranging they can sit under trees.

No lice. I don't know about worms, I don't see any evidence of it, but I have never been one to deworm chickens, and the ones I kept in the past always laid fine. I'd rather breed a parasite resistant flock than have to keep deworming delicate little birds that can't survive without constant medical attention. I can accept maybe once or twice a year, that's not so bad. They were dewormed at a couple of months old because I got some other birds from a questionable source (yes I quarantined them) so I went ahead and treated the whole flock before putting them together.

What about nutrition? Any deficiencies that would set them back?
The 5 year olds stopped laying and the roosters stopped crowing about 2 months ago? When did the 2 year olds stop? This is about when your new ones should have started too, almost exactly.

Did you have any evidence of a predator? Did something scare them inside the coop? I can't believe that none of them are laying. They would surely be egg bound by now. If you have a snake that scared the snot out of them a couple of months ago maybe it is eating the eggs. Something is or you aren't finding them.

1. Check for mites and worms

2. Don't let them out to free range for 1 week.

3. Put golf balls or fake eggs in the nesting boxes. Although I disagree with it you could add additional lighting for a time.

4. Go over the coop with a fine tooth comb to find ANY entrance for predators, including snakes. Also look for a pile of about 100 eggs.

Good luck, I know there is an explanation here somewhere. I think the heat would slow down laying but I don't think that it would completely stop 20 hens!
The laying birds all stopped at once. The 5 year olds molted, but the 2 year olds didn't. I'm not worried about the oldest birds, I got them for free to butcher, but kept them on because they were laying all right, maybe an egg every other day each. The crowing from the roosters stopped at the same time too. I had some roosters that are the same age as the hens and had not even started crowing yet, but when I brought home a new rooster from the fair a couple of weeks ago, they all started crowing again when he would crow. Now the whole bunch crows all day long, as normal.

I find no evidence of a predator beyond the normal. We have lots of predators that hang around or pass through on occasion, but I don't see evidence of anything new that the birds are not used to. We can't really get rid of all of them, since we have protected species like hawks and mountain lion that we can't just shoot on sight, plus we're not allowed to kill coyotes etc on the property, my husband's parents own the place and don't want us killing anything (even our own animals, we have to "take them for a car ride" to a friend's house for butchering). We kill all rattlesnakes on sight, and have not seen any other snakes this year. I would not think one snake could eat THAT MANY eggs every day! And if it was many snakes, we would see them on occasion, or they would sometimes miss an egg, right?

1. No lice, I checked again. Other than having a vet do a fecal test (I ran my own but saw nothing), I don't know what else to check for evidence of worms, and vets here won't bother with birds. I'd prefer not to deworm without any real reason to, I don't like using medicine on an animal that is not definitely sick.

2. They spent last week penned up all the time because I was out of town. We got one egg the evening we got home (after we had been home a while, I checked the birds on coming home and there were no eggs, a few hours later, when I checked again before bed, there was one small egg), but that is the only egg I have seen in two months.

3. Already did the fake eggs. Have tried different styles and colors---golf balls, easter eggs, even real eggs from the grocery store. (note that nothing eats those real eggs when I leave them in the nest...) I am working on getting a solar or battery light for the coop because we can't reach electricity to it from the house easily to run a light.

4. Snakes could certainly get in. The coop is a shed made of pallets/plywood inside a chain link dog run, lined around the bottom with chicken wire (and over the roof to keep out unwanted bird guests). There are no holes in the fence or dug under it from coyote/fox etc. The only thing I know that could get in would be a snake or a chipmunk. I don't know if chipmunks eat eggs, they seem to eat everything else? I have even dug out all the bedding in the coop and any bits of straw in the run looking for hidden eggs. I check on them every couple of hours while they are roaming, and know all their favorite places, and don't find any eggs.

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