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What are we doing wrong with our hens? Or is this normal for molting?

 
Erin Bennett
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Location: Near Cincinnati, Ohio
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We have about 45 laying hens that we rotate around the pasture and supplement with Countryside soy-free layer feed. They get oyster shells, DE, and kelp free choice. Most of the year, including in the winter, they lay 25 to 30 eggs a day. They started molting about a month ago. We are now getting between 5 and 8 eggs a day. Is this normal? It seems really low. Should we be supplementing with additional protein? If so, are there other options than soy. I have tried to give them any extra comfrey we have, but I don't have enough growing to make a material impact. Any thoughts would be very welcome. Thank you!
 
John Polk
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It is perfectly natural for hens to quit laying once they begin moulting.
They are using their proteins to build new feathers, not eggs.
They cannot do both, even if you increase their protein level.

 
Julia Winter
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What John said. Hens stop laying during the moult. Some commercial operations stress the chickens to throw them into it all together and somehow get them through it faster. They will resume laying once they have their new feathers.
 
John Polk
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Some commercial operations stress the chickens to throw them into it


The egg farm I worked on wanted their hens to moult 'on rotation' - one hen house at a time.
One entire house quit laying, while the others kept up normal laying.

They would take the selected house, and begin dumping 50 kilo bags of Black Oil Sunflower Seeds into the feed trays.
This would stimulate a premature moult. As the birds were coming out of it, they'd dump the BOSS into the next house.



 
Erin Bennett
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Location: Near Cincinnati, Ohio
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Thanks for the insights. It sounds as though we just need to wait out the molting phase.
 
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