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Chicken not laying

 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Last year it was the same. First we had so many eggs we sold them and then they get broody but everyone else stopped laying too. Our temperatures are fluctuating hugely at the moment, we are in Australia and it is summer one day it is 35C and the only 12C. We got have aracaunas and mixes and light sussex. Those chickens who were mothers forgot about their chicks by now, but do you think they got back laying?
The chicken are my husbands business but he's not on forums. Should I tell him to put them in the pot or are there tricks to convince them to lay better?
I have the impression that it is not good at all letting chickens get broody among other chickens. It is the same with human beings, then it gets fashionable to get broody and everyone gets broody and my husband cannot resist and puts eggs under her. I found that the light sussex are too fat to be good mums and that the aracaunas do the job far better.
 
Roberta Blackard
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I have always heard that CHICKENS DON'T LAY SO MUCH IN THE WINTER.
An old farmer friend of mine always had eggs in the winter. He fed his chickens WARM MASH early in the morning and gave them WARM WATER at the same time. He claimed that by 9:00 am he had eggs.
 
John Polk
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Has stated that she is in Australia.
The other side of the equator, where she is currently in the middle of summer.

After these hens had brooded their chicks, did they go into moult?
When a hen moults, she spends all of her energy growing new feathers.
No energy left to spend on reproduction.
It's one-or-the-other, but NOT both.

 
Kitty Hudson
Posts: 33
Location: SW KY--out in the sticks in zone 6.
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Ditto on the suggestion about molt--chickens molt 2 x per year, toward the end of summer and the end of winter. It's getting close to that time now, in both hemispheres and on both sides of the equator.
 
Terri Matthews
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Location: Eastern Kansas
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Chickens stop laying when the days get too short. A lot of people give the birds 2-3 hours of light to extend the chickens day length, which keeps them laying.

14 hours a day of light is ideal for eggs, though some years I get by with 12.
 
Kevin MacBearach
Posts: 213
Location: Beavercreek, Oregon
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I'm interested in the "warm mash" and "warm water" as a way of helping them lay. Has anyone heard of that before?

I'm in Oregon and my chickens stopped laying months ago. Right now I'm getting 3 eggs a week and I have 20 hens. I feed them Buckston layer pellets, which is a local brand here in Portland Oregon, which is soy/corn free and no GMOs. They're free range most of the day and I don't have lights on them ever. The majority of the hens that I have now were hatched and raised here by a couple of my older broody hens. I think I'm doing everything right, but they're not giving me eggs.

 
Jay Green
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Mine have been getting warm mash and warm water all winter long and no eggs....warm food does not stimulate egg laying~ but hormones do. A person keeps chickens long enough and let them cycle normally, you will learn their cycles and when they should and should not be laying during different times of the year.

My flock is old(5 yrs and 3 yrs old) and only a few of the 9 hens have been laying during the winter...but true to their natural rhythms, the rest of the flock are picking up laying long about right now. Getting 3-4 eggs per day now and that will increase as the month goes along.

Past their first year of laying, hens will usually fall into a cycle~if allowed to do so and are not being lit up with unnatural lighting~and will naturally resume laying near the end of Feb/beginning of March, will go broody in Apr/May and go into molt around Aug/Sept, recover from molt at their individual rates...but all should be fully recovered by the end of Dec. January seems to be the slack month where they just gear up for the laying season, have all their feathers and look great but just aren't laying as a group yet....then one hen will start as Feb rolls around, then another, then more until whoever is going to lay that year should be laying by the end of March~no matter how old the hen.

Anyone not laying by the end of March is usually not going to lay consistently that year and needs to be culled. March is my cull month..a hen should be in her highest rate of lay by the end of March/beginning of April. If you have good breeds known for laying, that laying should be consistent and well from March until August, slow down in Aug to Oct. and peter out in Nov/Dec/Jan(depending on your breeds/ages you may still have some laying in the winter months) and then start all over again in Feb. If you have production layers, that cycle will vary...production breeds usually lay when other breeds are slowing down but these types of breeds will burn out after their first year or two, whereas the other birds will still be laying well into their old age.

If I don't get a broody by the end of March this year, I'll mark a few eggs and leave them in the nest as a small clutch to give my old White Rock some mothering hints.
 
Kevin MacBearach
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Location: Beavercreek, Oregon
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My hens are either very old (3-4 years), or very young (6 months). As far as I know, only one hen is laying right now. I haven't seen which hen it is cause I'm so busy in the morning to hang around the coop. Do 6 month old hens lay eggs? This young hens were hatched here by a broody hen and they seem very healthy. Maybe I'll need to cull some birds....
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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In order to keep a more consistent egg supply, I'm going to be raising new layers each year and keep them for a couple years or so. This way I'll have lots of variety in my flock. Some old, some young, many different breeds and crosses. I figure that this way I'll always have eggs and meat around. Last year I bought chicks and raised them up for meat and eggs. It worked out really well. Even with the severe cold and winter storms we still managed at least 3-7 eggs per day from 17 hens. I don't really expect them to keep up like that forever so in a couple months we'll be raising up another 75 birds. The plan is to keep the best, eat the rest.
 
Jay Green
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Kevin MacBearach wrote:My hens are either very old (3-4 years), or very young (6 months). As far as I know, only one hen is laying right now. I haven't seen which hen it is cause I'm so busy in the morning to hang around the coop. Do 6 month old hens lay eggs? This young hens were hatched here by a broody hen and they seem very healthy. Maybe I'll need to cull some birds....


Yes, 6 mo. old hens lay eggs but, depending on the breed, some mature later and some sooner than 6 mo. old. The heritage type breeds that have been less manipulated by selective breeding by hatcheries seem to take a little longer to mature and lay than do the production type breeds. Production breeds like the sex links, hatchery RIR or leghorns will and can mature as early as 4-5 mo. The thing to remember is that, the earlier they mature and lay, the sooner they burn out on laying for their lifetime of lay.

Each year your older birds will slow down more and more(will take a longer break from laying in the winter months and start a little slower in the spring), and though they may still lay well, they will not have the production levels they have at 1-2 yrs of age. This why some people get new flocks of layers every 2 years....I have found that doing that was not as self sustaining as keeping birds and letting them raise their own replacements each year. It provides a rolling flock of various ages that will pass on their best traits if you cull for certain desirable traits each year~this provides meat and also keeps younger layers in the flock for winter egg supplies.

Letting a broody cover a clutch of eggs each spring is a good way of replenishing your flock without the expense of buying more chicks and it also lets you choose your own gene pool from your best layers/roosters. A good, solid rooster with meat and laying genetics~like a White Rock or Buckeye~can produce offspring with your layers that are worthy of both meat and egg production needs.
 
Kevin MacBearach
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Location: Beavercreek, Oregon
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Jay Green wrote:
Letting a broody cover a clutch of eggs each spring is a good way of replenishing your flock without the expense of buying more chicks and it also lets you choose your own gene pool from your best layers/roosters. A good, solid rooster with meat and laying genetics~like a White Rock or Buckeye~can produce offspring with your layers that are worthy of both meat and egg production needs.



Thanks Jay. That was really helpful information. I was going to retire my rooster coming up pretty soon and I was just thinking of looking on cr-list for a free rooster that looked big and colorful. Now I'll be looking for one of those breeds you suggested for layer production. Any others you know of that are good?
 
Jay Green
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Kevin MacBearach wrote:
Jay Green wrote:
Letting a broody cover a clutch of eggs each spring is a good way of replenishing your flock without the expense of buying more chicks and it also lets you choose your own gene pool from your best layers/roosters. A good, solid rooster with meat and laying genetics~like a White Rock or Buckeye~can produce offspring with your layers that are worthy of both meat and egg production needs.



Thanks Jay. That was really helpful information. I was going to retire my rooster coming up pretty soon and I was just thinking of looking on cr-list for a free rooster that looked big and colorful. Now I'll be looking for one of those breeds you suggested for layer production. Any others you know of that are good?


For heavy meat in the stock while still imparting laying genes, there are a few breeds out there known for it...but only a few will do both. Hatchery bred strains of most any breed out there won't provide the heavy builds you would want for meat AND eggs, though they haven't tampered too much with the White Rocks. I'd advise investing in a heritage breed that has been cultivated by good, conscientious breeders...I used to think those kinds of birds would be out of my price range but you only need a few to really set your flock apart from all the others and buying a few hatching eggs or chicks from a reputable breeder may not be as expensive as you imagine.

The difference can be $2.78 per chick from a hatchery, as opposed to $5 per chick from a good breeder...but the difference in genetics is a world apart. Check out this site and read about these breeds...this fella is a well respected breeder in poultry circles and is thought of as being the last word on White Rocks, Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks.

http://bloslspoutlryfarm.tripod.com/id34.html

I'm not new to chickens but the whole breeder thing is beyond my kin, so to speak...very confusing and involved and nothing I'd get deeply involved in. But there is a lot to be said for getting a good rooster and a few good hens from breeder stock to brighten up the genetics in a sustainable homestead flock. It can make all your efforts much more profitable...to quote one old timer, "It's so much easier to spend time and effort on good birds than it is on bad ones."

In other words, you can cull many birds to produce a few good ones or start with a few good ones and a few bad ones, not have to cull as many and still raise good stock on the side for meat. There are always "culling for meat" chances in a rolling flock, so how much better would it be to actually cull larger, meatier birds when one does cull? Or breed only your good, breeder sourced birds and slowly replace all the inferior stock as the years go along?

A free from CL rooster is okay when one isn't really serious about developing a flock and is just experimenting around with chickens, but if you want to grow a flock much like one would develop and enrich your land, you really need to think a little bigger than free roosters. I know how it is to start out on the cheap and for many years I just picked up birds here and there or ordered chicks from a hatchery and let those reproduce, but I've learned a lot in this past year about the difference between hatchery stock and breeder stock. The difference can make your flock perform head and comb above the simple hatchery sourced flock.
 
John Polk
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I agree with Jay.

The big hatcheries are looking for volume, not quality.
If you can find a good breeder locally, you will get a better flock to base your future on.

Most likely, the chicks were raised by their mother rather than stuffed into a box to spend 3 days getting to you. This helps the chix learn how to forage as well as be on the alert for predators. A couple weeks with Mom teaches them how to be chickens.

Even better, is to find another breeder, and in a couple of years, get a few from him.
This should help keep the inbreeding from getting too close.
You want to introduce new blood from other good breeders.

 
Kevin MacBearach
Posts: 213
Location: Beavercreek, Oregon
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Very interesting, and makes perfect sense. I didn't really understand half of what that article said, it's a pretty specialized field, as you said.

I will start searching for some local breeders at once!
 
Jay Green
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A word of warning about breeders...not all people selling a particular breed of chicken are dedicated breeders who are improving the breed and trying to keep it SOP(Standard of Perfection). Some are just people who bought their original stock from hatcheries, collect eggs periodically and incubate in order to sell birds to defray the cost of their poultry setup. I've been a victim of this type of breeder in the past and it's just a waste of good money when all is said and done.

Here's a good thread to frequent to find who is a breeder for a particular breed in your local area...these folks are real prompt about helping you find what you need:

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/400344/heritage-large-fowl-thread
 
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