Where did all my eggs go???!!!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by btruegs, Feb 12, 2015.

  1. btruegs

    btruegs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For the last almost 2 weeks, i have not seen a single egg. I have had a bad problem with mice getting into the feed we keep in a shed near the coop, and in the garden next to the coop and fenced in area the coop is in. But like i said i have not seen an egg for nearly 2 weeks. In one nest box there is a bunch of feathers from a black australorp hen, so is the mice possibly taking the eggs? I have five hens, and have aveaged about 2-3 eggs a day this winter. Any suggestions?
     
  2. jaredthefox

    jaredthefox Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know that when hens are stressed they will stop laying. If a predator is visiting at night or something like that they will stop laying. I think that all the feathers in one of the laying boxes is a big clue. I would like to know the age of the hens? I don't think that the mice would eat the eggs. I have had my chickens eat mice lol.
     
  3. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    There are a LOT of reasons that you can have a stoppage, so it will take some investigative work.

    You don't mention the age of your hens...have they gone through their molt? Most breeds lay well for the first 12 to 18 months, then will molt, depending upon the time they began to lay.The pile of feathers from the Australorp may indicate a molt (a bird's natural replacing of feathers that stops laying while she replenishes her body).

    Also, shorten daylight will cause a dramatic slow down in laying...but generally you would have seen that reduction beginning in October with pick up beginning about now. BUT an abrupt change in weather pattern can trigger a molt if it has been warmer sunnier then suddenly turned dark and cold. Only a couple of days of that can trigger a molt and laying stoppage.

    Ditto with changing lighting pattern...if you were lighting the coop at night to continue winter egg laying and the light bulb burned out and you didn't replace it immediately...that can trigger a molt and stoppage.

    Another potential cause, for the Australorp, is broodiness, which it is about that time of the year for many to consider brooding (high season being April through June). Has she plucked her breast feathers? Is she staying in the nest? When one hen goes broody, often others will as well. Australorps are a breed that is known for going broody.

    I doubt it is mice that are stealing the eggs as typically they are not big enough to cart an egg away, and they make a mess when they eat them in the nest. Look for a few shell pieces which would be left behind to see if that may be where they are going.

    Do you have the possibility of snakes? Although during winter, snakes generally are hibernating. What about digger squirrels? They can clean a nest out too.

    Another thing to look for is disease...often the first sign of a viral disease is the birds have stopped laying. Is anyone sniffing, snicking, sneezing? Looking a little rumpled? A mild case of Infectious Bronchitis can present first with these mild, hardly noticeable symptoms, and stoppage of laying, especially if the stoppage was preceded with odd egg coloring, ie a normally brown egg layer lays paler tint eggs, typically with a sandy or wrinkled appearance.

    Stresses in the flock, as the other poster suggested, can be a factor. Not only predators, but change in ranging ability, feed and water.

    Breeds matter too...some breeds are seasonal layers, especially the game types and specialty types, who may not lay during deep winter.

    Good luck in figuring out your cause. Hopefully I've given you some ideas to track down.

    Lady of McCamley
     
  4. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Others have given you good advice, but I just wanted to add that I have had squirrels steal eggs. They even took one of the fake eggs LOL.
     
  5. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    ...also is it possible the hens are laying elsewhere? Go on an easter egg hunt to see if they have begun to hide their nest. While they may have begun in the coop, sometimes if they have a change in pattern for some reason, one will begin to lay elsewhere and the others will follow.

    And finally, look for signs of a hen egg eating. Again normally that leaves a mess with egg shell pieces, but if one has begun to eat eggs others often follow suit too.

    LofMc
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2015
  6. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    LOL...the little stinker....hope he cracked a tooth on it.

    I had a squirrel that kept stealing my chicken scratch...he ate through the tough plastic container. The sarcasm was noted as he not only stole ONLY the sunflower seeds, but he left the shells in the jar!

    LofMc
     
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  7. sweetbeak

    sweetbeak Chillin' With My Peeps

    I had the same problem a few weeks ago, 12 hens and no eggs. Turns out that all my orphingtons are now broody and the others were laying in a nest they'd made in a bush. I collected the eggs and pulled the bush down and now eggs are back in the nesting boxes. [​IMG]
     
  8. btruegs

    btruegs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The hens are 11 months now, and have been excellent layers.
     
  9. btruegs

    btruegs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    HA!
     
  10. btruegs

    btruegs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Haha they are 11 months
     

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