Why all of a sudden am I having to buy eggs?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by clickncluck, Oct 21, 2011.

  1. clickncluck

    clickncluck Chirping

    Feb 28, 2011
    Kahaluu on Oahu
    My speckled sussex hens have drastically cut their egg production in the last couple of weeks. They were born March 9. Cluck began laying July 24 and Clack on August 16. They have been producing about 6 eggs/week each (dozen per week total) very reliably. Now I am only getting 3-5 eggs total per week. We are getting about 11.5 hours daylight now. But at the best we get 13.5 and at the worst 10.8 so it doesn't vary that much. They aren't molting. They aren't free range so they aren't hiding them anywhere. They are eating a lot and seem to be healthy. Any ideas?

  2. partsRheavy

    partsRheavy Songster

    Jul 28, 2011
    A light with a timer set from 4:30-7:30 AM
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2011
  3. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    Are they going through a molt?
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    Since they are first year pullets, it is unlikely they've slowed to moult.

    Speckled Sussex are one those breeds, in our experience, that slows to little or nothing from mid-fall through winter. They seem to be very photo-reactive, meaning without 14 hours of sunlight, their laying falls off sharply. Under completely natural conditions, I'd peg their egg production at 220-250 eggs per year, which means they'll take almost 1/3 of the year off laying, in combined total.

    Adding 3 hours of morning light, as suggested, is about all you can do if egg production is required.
  5. The French Hen

    The French Hen Tres Chic

    Jul 31, 2010
    Tarpon Springs, FL

    I too have chickens born in March that were laying arnd are not now....mine too look healty and don't look like they are molting

    I do have feathers in the coop and run...to me its not like massive feathers but quite a few none the less.....but the chickens don't look bare and they are only just over 7 months old and everyone tells me they shouldn't be going thru a molt yet. However my farmer friend came over to look for me because I couldn't see mites, or ticks or any bugs and didn't feel they were molting so he stopped by to check them out for me and he picked them up and showed me they are indeed molting...he said they probably won't go thru a full molt and get bare or anything but he showed me the naked pins coming thru their skin...where a new feather will be...

    I have increased the lighting to 14 hours a day...it goes on at 5 am and off at 9 amm

    I have changed to a higher protein food Layena is only 16 % so I went to a game and bird feed with 20% protein also I cut out bad treats that really don't do anything for them like pasta, bread and rice

    They get treats a little bit but it's cracked corn mixed in with Cat food...Cat food again is high in protein. They also get greens, like lettuce, carrots and pumpkins.

    So my farmer friend says I am doing all I can do and now it's just wait...and wait....and wait....darn............!!!

    Good Luck with your chickens hope they start laying for you ...I have been all over these boards and it seems we are not alone in our dilema !!![​IMG]
  6. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    French Hen,

    You are correct, in that chickens go through many "mini-moults" throughout the year.

    When people think of low light conditions, they tend to think of mid-winter, but actually the darkest day of the year is Dec 21, of course. The winter solstice. Actually, at Christmas, the light is increasing again. So, although it is only late October we are on a serious downward slide of sunlight hours and flocks everywhere are laying less in reaction to this natural loss of light.

    The OP is so near the equator, in Hawaii and the Islands simply don't experience the huge swings on daylight hours that others do.
    but, most traditional breeds simply are not bred to lay more than 220-250 eggs per year. Just aren't, even in their first year, which is usually a hen's most productive. Doing the math, it is easy to see that there are going to be many, many stretches of egg-less days if one's flock is made up entirely or predominately of those breeds.

    So, many folks keep a portion of the flock for Leghorns, ISA Browns or other commercial type layers so they have a much better chance of getting a more steady supply of eggs.
  7. AK Michelle

    AK Michelle Bad Girl of the North

    Mar 17, 2009
    Palmer, Alaska
    I have had some luck supplementing my feed with some Cayenne pepper. I use about 1 teaspoon per 2 or 3 lbs of feed. I don't know the science behind it, I originally read it on here somewhere years ago. But it does help. It also eliminates some worms, so you get a dual benefit.

    Good luck

  8. clickncluck

    clickncluck Chirping

    Feb 28, 2011
    Kahaluu on Oahu
    Thanks Fred's Hens,
    You are correct, we just don't have that big of a shift in our daylight hours. In fact we never get to 14 hours of daylight not even at the summer solistice.
    And they aren't molting.
    I don't think I will opt for artificial lighting. I guess they'll just get a bit of a rest...
    Thanks though for the info. I'm a newbie and couldn't figure out what was happening.

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