Will my girls ever start laying again, or am I done for the season?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by RowerRN, Oct 17, 2011.

  1. RowerRN

    RowerRN Out Of The Brooder

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    I have 11 hens - a mixed flock 3 RI reds, 4 black australorps, 1 copper moran, 1 buff orp, 2 americaunas. Most are 1-2+ yr old but I have several 6month old pullets - 2 blacks and the copper.

    The 3 pullets have yet to start. One has red-ish wattles but nothing yet.

    I believe the remaining 8 are now molting. I added 5 of the girls about a month ago (stress and reworking of pecking order), and unfortunately my dog has attacked more than once, the last being 3 weeks ago. I have since sequestered my dog and he does not have access to the backyard or within eyeshot (predator stress).

    I feed them Layena with kitchen scraps, free range of whole yard now, probiotics, and some diatomaceous earth.

    Ofcourse -it is mid October in Maryland, and the days keep gettting shorter and shorter.

    I am currently getting zero eggs per day. A few questions:

    1) will the pullets still start laying soon in spite of decreasing daylight?
    2) will my other girls be molting all winter?
    3) is it too late to start exposing them to artificial light and if I do, is the morning best? I know they need minimum 12-14 hrs/day.

    They seem happy now and the pecking order seems pretty well re-established. They love taking over the back yard! However it's pretty discouraging having no eggs every day. On the other hand, they are hard at work improving my landscaping beds.
     
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    The pullets should lay soon. The decreasing light doesn't effect them a whole lot. Older hens take while, 5-7 weeks to molt and begin laying again. If you wish, add a little pre-dawn light to their routine. It might be just enough. I don't add light in the evenings, but that would be up to you.

    Be sure they aren't laying outside somewhere. The only way to be sure is to keep them cooped or in their run until noon. By that time, most have laid for the day. I think I'd check on them using this method. The pullets, especially, will need this training. During molt, many people adding higher protein Game/Turkey Feed at 24% protein or a can or two of cat food helps them re-grow feathers and enables them to resume laying.

    1. A little boost of 5 am to 8 am lighting
    2. Keep them in the coop/run until noon to be sure there are no hidden nests.
    3. Perhaps up the protein just a bit.

    If all else fails, wait for spring. [​IMG]
     
  3. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    you are already feeding Layer feed? hmmm, lots of opinions on feeding, I kept mine on till they started laying...

    anyhow....you can add light, from what I have read most people do so starting say at 4 am...going off at 8am.

    I personally am not adding light this winter...if they lay they lay, I am giving them a break...I just lost one Gold Comet to
    impacted egg...don't want to lose another one, and don't want them to do something that isn't truly natural.

    If I get eggs, great, if I only get a few, that's ok also. I have a few breeds that should do well, winter or not. You could just give it
    a while and see what happens, if you are certain you want eggs, try the lights.

    **you are right, keeping them in the run...great idea. I have had to do this twice due to hidden nests...I finally broke them of the habit
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2011
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Six month old pullets. I would no longer worry about feeding layer feed doing a lick of harm. 12 weeks, yes, but not at 26 weeks.
     
  5. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Fred's Hens :

    Six month old pullets. I would no longer worry about feeding layer feed doing a lick of harm. 12 weeks, yes, but not at 26 weeks.

    I agree here....you should be getting eggs soon...the Australorps should be laying, mine started at 24 weeks, each are different though.​
     
  6. RowerRN

    RowerRN Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 23, 2011
    Central Maryland
    Thanks for your advice, both of you!

    I am new to chickens as of this summer. I inherited the original 7 older girls from my sister in law, and they've never laid for me like they did for her. They've been through a lot of upheaval, and I think it sent them in to early molting.

    I'm almost 100% sure they are not hiding eggs, because their access area is just grass with minimal vegetation. Besides, I was gone for the weekend for 4 days - they were locked in the run with no eggs at all to show for it!! And several of the girls look pretty rough, especially the reds, poor things.

    I will up their protein with canned pet food; maybe it will help them get through molting a bit sooner and get the new girls started. Several of the girls have been molting for at least a month, so maybe they'll start laying again soon.

    I also have yet to run electricity to the coop - guess I'll have to get on that for this weekend so I can give them a little of early morning motivation.

    Again, thanks for your expertise!
     
  7. Kaitie09

    Kaitie09 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm almost in your same predicament. I have 20 that took all summer to molt, and then they only layed for a week. For the past week I have not gotten anything, put a light in there today and got 2 eggs, so hopefully it will pick up. With the light, figure out when they lay most of the time. My girls are morning layers so I know to set the timer for 6 am and turn it off about 9am.
     
  8. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Quote:The goal of adding light is to allow them 12-14 hours of light. We're down to 10 hours of daylight here and we're heading to a low of only 7 hours of daylight on December 21. By having the light come on 5 am, I am preventing the hours of light to fall below 10 hours because chickens are photo reactive. Chicken react to light to trigger their laying. BTW, it is fine to just allow them to coast through the winter and await spring. I don't mind egg production slipping to 60% of peak, but falling to near zero? No, our customers couldn't abide that.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2011
  9. RowerRN

    RowerRN Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 23, 2011
    Central Maryland
    "I don't mind egg production slipping to 60% of peak, but falling to near zero? No, our customers couldn't abide that.'"


    Yes, I just want a few eggs to feed me and my family - I don't even have to sell them. It does get frustrating feeding them day after day when I'm getting zero eggs. I was starting to think that I'd have to feed them all winter until I got some eggs in the spring...
     
  10. KnittingKnutty

    KnittingKnutty Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 12, 2011
    I am not sure where to post this so I guess I will in a few places. I have 8 chickens. Two of them are new to the barrio. We got them on Saturday. My other chickens are so mean. They won't let them out of the hen house. I try to put food and water in there for the new girls and they go in and take that over too. I don't have ANY way to separate them so I need some suggestions.
     

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