Year Old Buffs stop laying?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Kait27, May 25, 2010.

  1. Kait27

    Kait27 Chillin' With My Peeps

    103
    1
    119
    Apr 30, 2009
    Central Massachusetts
    I have four Buff Orps who are a few weeks shy of their first birthday. Laying has been fairly regular, 3-4 eggs per day, with some slower periods of 2-3 eggs/day over the winter when it was really cold. The past week or two, production has dropped to nearly nothing. I have one hen that seems to be my only layer, laying maybe 4 eggs per week, which is down. Another hen is coming off a broody spell, so her lack of laying is accounted for, but the other two are just not laying at all. (The eggs are slightly different shades of brown, so I know who lays what.) I expect the Broody to begin laying soon, as she no longer acts broody. What gives with the others? Nothing has changed. Same layer pellets, same treats, same free access to grit and calcium. The weather is getting warmer, but it's been gradual and hasn't been uncomfortable until today. They're spending more time loose in the yard, but it's always supervised and in the evenings after laying should have occurred, and even still, they've been known to go back to the coop to lay, if they need. They are all acting normally, eating, drinking, roosting, dirt-bathing. There doesn't seem to be a significant amount of feathers around, and I always thought molting occurred in the fall? It's like they're just on strike. I don't suspect egg eating, because I am getting one most days, and very occasionally 2. Is this just something that happens sometimes?

    If it's worth anything, my brother also has chickens from the same hatch last year, in similar conditions, and his production hasn't dropped at all.
     
  2. RonB

    RonB Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 4, 2009
    Woodinville
    I wish I had an answer for you. BUT I just started having the SAME problem about two weeks ago. I have eight hens. (4 white,& 4 brown layers) between 11-13 months old. Jan to middle of April, I was getting 6 to 8 eggs EVERY day!!!! Now the last two weeks I've been getting 4 or 5 with 6 once or twice a week. I know one RIR and one White leghorn haven't laid in about a week. A couple of my hens are missing alot of feathers around their vent. and middle of their back. I don't have a rooster anymore, so thats not it. Can they be molting? I too thougth they molted in the Fall. I have looked for mites and lice at night but don't see any. I could be missing them though.
    I have only had my chickens for one year, so I haven't experenced molting ,mites,lice yet. I'm still a rookie LOL

    Any thoughts or idea's???. BTW I am on the other side of the country (Seattle)
     
  3. Kait27

    Kait27 Chillin' With My Peeps

    103
    1
    119
    Apr 30, 2009
    Central Massachusetts
    I'm in your boat- I've never experienced the molt with them before. I haven't checked for lice or mites, but I'm fairly sure they don't- they act completely normal and are confined most of the time! Perhaps I should check them though. Frustrating, huh? They were squawking at me tonight to come out, but they aren't allowed til the next rain because of lawn chemicals. I told them I wasn't speaking to them until they lay more eggs.
     
  4. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Seattle
    Sounds like they are healthy and it doesn't sound like they're molting. Are there any other stresses they could have experienced, recently? Construction noises, predators, etc? Even minimal stresses can negatively affect egg production - like moving, overheating, or even a temporary lack of food or water.

    There's even a possibility their egg-laying was affected by your broody hen, especially if her broodiness made her very aggressive to the rest of the flock or if she was distressed. I would be patient and give them some time now that your broody is returning to normal. To a hen's body, each egg is a potential baby chick, and a stressful situation can halt her oviduct production until that "situation" is once again safe for her to bring baby chicks into. Give them time and they'll probably be back to egg-laying very soon.

    I have a flock of one year olds and have also had some "on again, off again" egg-laying this spring.
     
  5. Kait27

    Kait27 Chillin' With My Peeps

    103
    1
    119
    Apr 30, 2009
    Central Massachusetts
    Hmm... Well, as long as no one seems to feel they could be egg-bound. They would be acting lethargic and sick if that were the case, right? This is Broody's 4th brood, and they generally aren't affected by her, but perhaps they got sick of waiting in line for the other nest box. She's not aggressive at all, I can reach right in and take her out of the nest box without any fuss. Guess it's just one of those things. No new stresses... Lawns are being mowed and such, but I hardly think that would bother them. They've been out in the coop since last july, so they've certainly heard yard noises. Maybe they just needed a breather. They always have food and water, and get a handful of scratch in the morning. Strange...
     
  6. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Seattle
    Are any of their "extra treats" protein? Like a few fish scraps, some scrambled egg, a small handful dry cat food, or some mealworms? Some people have sworn that a small boost in protein intake can boost egg production. That would be a small boost over the standard laying feed ratio for protein. Not too much, perhaps two or three percent more. Of course if they free-range most of the day, they may be getting enough extra protein, especially if the weather is warm.

    ETA: forgot to add, I'd cut back on the scratch because it is very low protein - and depending upon how much they are eating of it, it may be reducing their intake of laying feed and thus lowering their overall protein intake below those minimum levels in the feed. maybe, for a while, just give them scratch once a week. I know they love it -- mine do, too.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2010
  7. Kait27

    Kait27 Chillin' With My Peeps

    103
    1
    119
    Apr 30, 2009
    Central Massachusetts
    What they get for scratch isn't much- you know the bathroom-sized paper cups, I think they are 3oz? That's what we use as a scratch scoop, and that's split between four birds. They are in an enclosed run most of the time, with access to their coop. They haven't been out to free range since last week, but they used to get about an hour to get bugs, etc in the evening. Oh- do grubs count as protein? We dug a stump out of the garden on Sunday, and they got a TON of grubs. (ew?) But the problem was well established before that.
    They also get what's left of dinner on Sundays- usually a pile of mashed potatoes (I know, not a ton of nutrients), left over veggies and some steak. They LOVE steak!
    What else is a good source of protein? I'm not sure I want to feed eggs back to them, because supply is down- I feel like I should be rationing them! What about peanuts? The kind you can get at the feed store for squirrels and birds? Are those OK? Shelled or in the shell? I'm not sure I can bring myself to buy mealworms...ick!
     
  8. OKbirdwatcher

    OKbirdwatcher Out Of The Brooder

    62
    0
    29
    Apr 24, 2009
    NE Oklahoma
    Same story here. Ten hens, about 18 mos. old. Only getting 2-4 eggs a day, most days, for the past few weeks. Sunday, I got just one. We got more eggs through the winter than we're getting now. We do have one who is broody, but other than that, nothing different going on and no problems we can find. Lawn and garden work being done at times near their coop/pen, but the same went on last year at this time. Oh, and the weenie dog barks at them now and then when they're out in their pen.[​IMG][​IMG]

    Probably just a new experience for us and they'll likely resume more normal laying soon.[​IMG]
     
  9. fishermans wife

    fishermans wife Chillin' With My Peeps

    583
    13
    156
    Sep 2, 2009
    Ventura County
    OK, I feel better, I am not alone - I have 2 raising chicks right now - so they are out of egg commission - but the other 4 were laying great until the chicks hatched - now I am lucky to get 1 egg a day! I went ahead and wormed them today - just in case, and am waiting...but it is so frustrating [​IMG] ! Mine are just over 1 year old, 4 of them molted last fall already. I will keep an eye on this thread...
     
  10. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Seattle
    Grubs definitely are a source of protein. Black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS) are great, especially those you get at the feedstore, in their shells. Steak is good protein. You don't have to feed eggs back, if you don't want. I used to freak about mealworms, but now I actually RAISE THEM! [​IMG]

    You can do searches on BYC for posts about the relationship of protein to increased egg production. Here's one thread with an interesting discussion:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=254277
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by