Chickens not laying

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Chickens not laying

Postby CWB » Mon Oct 09, 2017 5:54 pm

Hi, I'm sorry if this is a really common topic and covered elsewhere, but I'm really puzzled about our chickens. :-)07 We have 14 chooks, but one is a cockerel, one is a rescue chicken who has never laid an egg since we've had her, two are chicks hatched this year and one is their mum, so that leaves nine chickens who should be laying. They are all hybrids (four Bluebells, three Marans and three Medicis) and we got them in February 2015 as 12-week-old chicks. Up till early summer, we were getting between six and nine eggs a day (they didn't stop laying over the winter, although production dropped to four or five eggs a day), but over this summer, production has gradually dropped to the point where over the past few weeks, we've only had two or three eggs a day, and today there were none. There have been a few soft shells and breakages, but nothing abnormal (I don't think!).
They were wormed a few months ago and also the hen house was treated for red mite. It's possible they're going through the moult, as they're looking a bit scraggy, but I understand that the moult only puts them off laying for about six weeks, and it's been longer than that. They haven't had any stressful experiences, and their diet is constant (Layers Pellets and mealworms in the morning, then leftover vegetables and bread at lunchtime). They have a large pen to roam in with fresh running water, and are allowed out to free range in the garden two or three times a week. The Maran that hatched the two chicks is kept in a separate area of the pen (the Maternity Wing), so she isn't laying yet (the chicks are two weeks old), but she hatched chicks last year and it didn't stop the others laying then.
If anyone can suggest a reason for the lack of eggs, I'd be very grateful!
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Re: Chickens not laying

Postby rick » Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:44 pm

It sounds quite normal CWB. If they were POL in Feb 2015 and laid 4-5 a day through last winter (2016-17) then they will be due a full moult about now and good rest this winter. You'll probably get some eggs again just as the days start to lengthen after X-mas - usually fewer but bigger.
Let them have a rest - it sounds like they have been Olympic layers up till now.
... Thin and soft shells are just a hiccup transitioning to off lay but also a sign (at the current age) that their oviduct could do with a holiday. They can shed some of their lining at about this time along with the feathers. Now and next spring is a bit of a risky time as they effectively go through a 'reset' so keep a out look out for any odd symptoms or bullying.
When they get their new feathers though, Wow! They can change colouring too!
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Re: Chickens not laying

Postby Marigold » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:06 pm

Yes, you would expect young birds to lay well all through their first winter and continue the following summer, but as Rick says, it's normal for egg production to drop by the second Autumn, whether or not they appear to be moulting. Day length is getting shorter after the equinox last month, and egg production is largely driven by hormones which are sensitive to light levels. They should start up again soon after the winter solstice, in fact they seem to be very sensitive to even small increases in day length and often come back into lay by the beginning of January, with glossy new plumage in place ready for their third laying season. In years after that, you must expect a steady decline in the egg numbers as they begin to get to the end of their egg cells - they can only lay as many as are present in their ovaries from the time they are hatched, after which they go through the 'henopause'. They may live for quite a few years after this as pensioner pets, laying an occasional egg, and enjoying their retirement if they are allowed to do so, especially if purebreds. However, sadly, many hybrids bred for intensive egg production are not very long-lived, and do keel over and die between 3-4 years old, because they're very prone to egg laying problems such as peritonitis and prolapse, having worn themselves out laying nearly every day for hundreds of days. in a commercial setting, of course, they're culled once they get to the stage yours are at, as it's not economic to keep them through the weeks when they're not productive.
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Re: Chickens not laying

Postby Poultryman » Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:32 pm

Just to add: Some birds are slow molters.
[url=http://farmersjoint.com/blog/sp/increasing-egg-size.html]How to Get Larger Eggs From Egg Layers[/url]
[url=http://farmersjoint.com/blog/sp/herbs-for-chickens.html]Using Herbs Instead of Antibiotics for Chicken Health and Growth[/url]
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Re: Chickens not laying

Postby rick » Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:57 pm

Totally agree with that Poultryman. Its all an average with a breed, age and time of the year. There will always be birds that buck the trend but it is still good to know what to expect, generally.
I've never had a hen moult as hard as some of the practically naked :oops: chickens that can be seen on the net. Sensibly, they seem to do it in stages but somehow get a complete new outfit sooner or later.
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