Why have my chickens stopped laying?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by drfarmkid, Dec 19, 2014.

  1. drfarmkid

    drfarmkid Hatching

    Jan 7, 2012
    Here's the story: In late July/early August my family went out of town for about two weeks. Before we left we were getting about 8-10 eggs/day from 11 hens (ages 1-3 yrs). When we got back that had dropped to 3-4 eggs, and I figured that the person we had taking care of them had let them run out of water or something. I kept expecting their production to come back up, but it hasn't. It also happens that when we got back I started a big project on the house (new roof, new siding, small addition), and I was so busy and focused on that that I just didn't have time to try to figure out what's up with the chickens. Now, we're down to maybe 4 eggs a week, as their production has slowly dropped since August.

    There are 5 Golden Sex-Links that hatched in early March and should be laying by now, but we have yet to get a single egg from any of them.

    They have plenty of feed and water. I have a light on a timer in the coop so they're getting plenty of light. There's nowhere they could be hiding the eggs, and there's no sign of them eating them either. There are no obvious signs of illness/parasites. However, I'm far from an expert in chicken health, so I can't guarantee they're healthy. If they do have a disease or parasite, it's something without extreme symptoms.

    Any ideas? Any disease symptoms I should look for?

    If it doesn't change soon, I'm thinking I may just butcher them all and try again next year.
  2. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    Have they been molting? That will usually cause egg production to slow or stop until they are done.
  3. pdirt

    pdirt Songster

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    Do they free range at all?

    They experienced two big stresses:

    1) Someone other than you took care of them for the two weeks you were gone. I'm sure your caretaker's habits were different than your own and the chickens noticed that.

    2) Immediately after stress #1, lots of noise and commotion was going on in your house project. Plus you were probably so consumed in the house project, you didn't spend as much time with the chickens, giving them treats, etc.

    Those stresses could have caused a molt. I've seen molts that were so mild I could barely tell other than they stopped laying. Plus, you don't mention how many of your flock are 3 years old, but in many people's books, that's a fairly ripe age for a laying hen and those hen's may be just slowing down.

    And your 5 birds hatched in March may not be ready to lay yet, perhaps they're holding out for until the days start getting longer. Sometimes the supplemental light thing works. Did you start the light early (we have to start mid-Sept in WA state here) and gradually? If you suddenly slap them in the middle of November or December with a lot of extra light, it can be a shock to them, which will have the opposite effect you want.

    It could be any of the things I've suggested, a combo of all of them or something else entirely.

    There is a thread here I read recently that was interesting...it involved regular feeding of cayenne in their feed to stimulate more egg production and a LOT of folks said it works. I think the ratio was about 1/2 tsp of ground cayenne per cup of food. Haven't tried it yet myself, though.

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