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Why are my three year old hens not laying at all??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Sara9, Jan 4, 2014.

  1. Sara9

    Sara9 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi!

    So I have four hens that are give or take 3 years old. I have one 'nice' rooster. At first they were laying great, but now I only get one egg a week. This has been a problem since the summer when production slowly dropped. I've checked, I don't see any lice or mites (but they had them a year or so ago). Some have been molting on and off, and they kind of look a little ratty. They eat layer food or whatever it is called, it's organic. They have free choice grit, cracked corn and occasionally compost, cat food or fats (protein). They are raised in my belief pretty well, clean water, a good size coop and access to an outdoor pen and a chicken tractor. I don't see how sunlight is the problem because they have a light on for some of the day. They don't get oyster shells (should they), I have no idea if they have worms, and now I'm considering coccidiosis, but not really. One hen sometimes has a clumpy white dry past stuck below her vent and to her feathers. The eggs we do get seam pretty healthy and look 'good' inside and the shells are ok.
    So any ideas? Are they sick. They have been lazy for a while now, and my parents are mad that they have to buy eggs at the store now :(

    Thanks!
     
  2. Chicka and Co

    Chicka and Co Out Of The Brooder

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    Do you know what breed they are? I know that hybrid hens lay well in their first few seasons and then the production slowly drops as they get older.
     
  3. Sara9

    Sara9 Out Of The Brooder

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    We hatched these girls from eggs a friend gave us, so I'm not even sure what the rooster was, or what they had in their flock, but my guess is common hardy breeds :( One is redish like a rhoad island red, the reset are are black, but by the looks of their shape and size they aren't all the same breed. One black girl lays a light blue egg, the rest lay different shades of creamy to light brown.
    Thanks!
     
  4. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:
    There are all kinds of answers to your question, but it seems to me that you are diluting the inherent purpose of laying pellet or laying mash with too many "treats" or the Feather Fixer feed.

    Also without supplemental light, so called dual purpose hens don't lay many eggs. In fact even purposely bred laying hens don't lay as many eggs without artificial light say from October to February which depending on how good I am at counting on my fingers could be 4 or 5 months.

    Are you supplementing their daylight for a combined total of at least 14 uninterrupted hours of natural and artificial light per day? Three years old hens are getting a little long in the tooth to lay many eggs and the older the hen is the more soft shell or thin shell eggs she will lay and the fewer in number the eggs will be.

    With their diet it is possible that your hens have a serous vitamin deficiency that prevents them from converting their dietary calcium or limestone into egg shells.

    There are about 15 commonly recognized reasons that hens lay eggs with poor shells or with no shells, and it usually isn't because of a lack of calcium in the diet, although it can be.

    http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/livestock/production/poultry/weak-shelled-eggs-and-your-small-flock-of-laying-hens.html

    Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014
  5. Triple Willow

    Triple Willow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I really believe that fermented feed is the best nutrition you can give your birds. It will help them through molting, keep their feathers in top condition, helps with egg production and helps to keep their immune system up so they can resist sickness and disease.

    As some have already said, a lot of breeds these days just don't lay long. They only have so many eggs inside them that can develop and when they are gone they're gone. The hybrids that lay an egg every day burn out faster. Some breeds are known for laying longer such as the Black Austrlorp and White Rock. Sometimes the question is do you want chickens that lay like crazy for a couple years or do you want some that lay dependably but not as much for maybe 5-6 years.

    It might be time for some new layers.
     
  6. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    Feeding them corn free choice is a no no. Corn should be a treat. Fat hens do not lay well.
     
  7. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Sounds like they are still molting, since you say they look ratty. Cut the corn and give them high protein treats to help them through the molt.
     
  8. MrsBachbach

    MrsBachbach Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hmm...where do you get vitamin D3 to add to their water?
     
  9. Sara9

    Sara9 Out Of The Brooder

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    Ok, I'll cut back on the corn, I have some scrap fat and meat I can give them. I'll check the light to make sure it is 14 hrs, and may look into a supplement for vitamin D.
    If in the case this isn't a molt problem or light problem because of the timing of all of this, could it be a disease? Coccidiosis, even thought I don't see any big signs? Worms? Temperature? Metal waterers? Rotten food? Some change that upset my old girls?
    I have two new 'babies' who are just starting to lay and they seem fine. Two perfect eggs so far...
    Thanks for all your help!
     
  10. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    How long has it been since you wormed them and what did you use?
     

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