Which change could have messed up my flock's laying?


8 Years
Jan 11, 2012
Wow. My first post, and I get to use the new web design. Very nice. Great job setting it up.

My husband and I both had chickens when we were kids, and we've been wanting to get some soon. Last week, somebody who was moving out of state brought his flock to us. They're 11 hens, all about 2 years old. Before they came, they were laying about 4-5 eggs a day. In the week they've been here, they laid 4 the first day, then 3, then it's been 1 or 2 after that. Yesterday was 0 (gasp!)

There have been a lot of changes for them with the move. I'm wondering if anyone could help me figure out which change(s) may have done them in. BTW, we're located in Western Washington, with daytime temps in the low-mid 40's and nighttime temps right around freezing.

I'll list their old and new conditions:

old: large coop, about 4 feet widep, 8 feet long, and 5 feet high. One of the 8 feet long walls was completely open, but it faced the house, so there was some shelter from the wind. Lots of roosting space. No insulation
new: converted camping trailer with A-frame roof. floorspace is 4x7 feet. I know this is a bit small, but the former owners will soon take 4 hens with them, leaving us with 7 hens. Enough roosting space for everyone, barely. Except for ventilation, the coop is completely closed up from 10pm to 7:30am. No insulation. I'm considering covering the A-ends with clear plastic instead of plywood, but since it's only closed at night, I don't know that it will do much good in letting in natural daylight.

old: very bright heat lamp on 24 hours a day. Because the coop was entirely open, it only seemed to heat right under the lamp.
new: soft/warm flourescent light on from 4pm to 10pm. Twilight is starting around 7:30am here now. No supplemental lighting at night or in the morning before I open up the coop and let them out at 7:30. No heat, but I've arranged the roosts raft-style, not ladder-style, so they can huddle.
I don't know how much good the light does in the evening, since it starts getting dark at about 4:00, and the chickens don't go into the coop until around 6 or 7, so they're out in the dark/dusk for a few hours. However, this is no different than at their old home.

old: Purina Layena pellets and some kitchen scraps. Water is a dog-dish that went icky or tipped over within a few hours.
new: same, but I'm adding a few handfuls of scratch in the afternoon to warm them up. I have 4 sources of water for them around the enclosure, so they always have access to fresh water.

nesting box:
I've copied their old nesting box design exactly. All the eggs have been laid in the box, so they seem happy with it.

outside conditions:
old: They weren't closed up at night at all, so they had free run of the yard, which was a 2000sqft barren wasteland.
new: Free run of about 1 acre of meadowland from 7:30am to about 10:00pm.

They seem very happy/content. They are pretty active during the day, exploring their yard, scratching, pecking, dusting, and doing what they should. They're very social and friendly, and come up to me and have entire conversations with me. Lots of happy clucking sounds most of the time. One lady is molting. The few eggs we do get are very large, beautiful, and tasty.

Ideas, anyone?
I'm just guessing, and this isn't an educated guess, but... they could have been working on producing eggs before the move, so those were laid after they arrived. Then the acclimation/uncertainty/nervousness of the move and the new home set in, meaning their production shut down temporarily. If so, I'd guess they will start up again in a few days.

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