When good layers stop laying...

BarefootInHeels

In the Brooder
10 Years
Aug 31, 2009
11
0
22
Portland, OR
I have four hens, all approximately 6 months old: Lucy and Doris (Easter Eggers), Jane (RI Red), and Lana (Silver Wyandotte). Lucy and Doris have been laying reliably, each one giving us about 4 eggs a week in the couple months that we've had them. Jane and Lana only gave us their first eggs in the last week - two from Jane and one from Lana.

While we're thrilled to see Jane and Lana earning their keep finally, we're curious about Doris and Lucy. They've all but stopped laying! We get maybe an egg or two a week from each one now, if that.

They used to squat whenever we reached for them, but they don't anymore (Jane, on the other hand, just started doing it). They get an excellent diet of organic, corn-free and soy-free feed, rounded out by grass and bugs they find and most of our kitchen scraps. They seem to be in excellent health. They just aren't laying.

We have a light on a timer in their coop and it's on from 5:30-7:30 every morning. That was supposed to keep them laying through the winter and, while it's chilled off a bit, it hasn't been THAT cold in Portland (highs in the upper 60's). I can't figure out what's going on.

Any ideas?

Thanks in advance!
 

lauralou

Crowing
13 Years
Dec 10, 2007
1,845
82
287
Central Virginia
The only idea that I have is to change the timer. Set it to come on earlier.

I have no experience here, I don't even supplement light in the winter. It just seems a logical place to start.

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Katy

Flock Mistress
12 Years
Jun 29, 2007
16,317
88
331
Kansas~50+ yrs of chickens
I wonder if they aren't older than what you think. If you've had them for 2 months and they've been laying that whole time I'd bet they're older. The pullet that starts laying at 4 months is very rare. If they're older, they could very well just be taking their natural break from laying. Are they molting?
 

gumpsgirl

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Mar 25, 2008
14,106
50
311
Virginia
The days are getting shorter, which slows down egg production, along with it being the time of year for most hens to molt. That will cause them to start laying too, so don't worry to much! It's just that time of year. Mine are doing that too.
 

BarefootInHeels

In the Brooder
10 Years
Aug 31, 2009
11
0
22
Portland, OR
I haven't noticed any loose feathers, but I don't really know how molting works. The two that used to be regular layers, Lucy and Doris, were definitely about five months old when we first got them in early August; they had only just started laying. The other two were supposed to be about the same age, but like I said, they only just started to lay and they still aren't up to rapid production yet.

I'll try setting the timer for earlier. What time should I start it, do you think? About 12 hours before the usual sunset?
 

gumpsgirl

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Mar 25, 2008
14,106
50
311
Virginia
Chickens need 14 hours of daylight for good egg production, so set it to where they will get 14 hours of light.

As far as molting goes, I don't think you will notice any loose feathers per se. It will more look like your chickens are having pillow fights in the run! That's what my chickens run looks like right now.
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Portia

Songster
11 Years
Feb 29, 2008
919
36
149
South Central PA
Mine have similarly eased up on the laying, some days I get less than half the eggs of the day before. I know I have 2 definite molters, and 2 with chicks...so that automatically knocks out 4; I have 2 that just started laying, so they are extremely inconsistent. I suspect other molters or partial molters, as it is that time and there have been A LOT of feathers about (harder to tell with my flock, as they free range); with the rest I think the shortening days have thrown them for a bit of a loop.
 

BarefootInHeels

In the Brooder
10 Years
Aug 31, 2009
11
0
22
Portland, OR
That's very helpful, thank you! They usually go up to the roost about 6 pm, so I'll set the timer for 4 am. Hopefully another hour and a half of light will get them laying again!
 

MANNA-PRO

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