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Why hens not laying?

 
Leah Sattler
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My barred rocks are not laying! They did for a while in spring but not now. I have never had this problem with the mixed stuff I buy at the feed store. At first I thought that they were laying elsewhere. But I put together a makeshift coop and run and I'm still not getting eggs. They sure are pretty but I think that I will go back to the sex link hens I usually ended up with when doing the feed store chicks. They always laid an egg a day and just lived off whatever they could scrounge up. Even their progeny always layed pretty well. In fact, the one I have left is responsible for the one egg a day I am getting. sheesh. pretty is as pretty does.
 
Gwen Lynn
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I think the barred rocks must be in a union & are on strike. I'm pretty sure I read about a chicken strike in the newspaper! LOL! Their demands of satin pillows in their quilted nests are just way over the top! Not to mention that bidet they were rallying for! 
Those birds are just being ridiculous!
 
Leah Sattler
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ha ha ha! well, I traded an old stock tank for a dog run yesterday that I am going to use as a permanent layer run. If they don't start laying soon well.....lets just say I'll can up a bit more chicken stock. I'll go back to the mystery birds from the feed store. Or at least I will buy a few, and order a different breed of layer along with some meat birds to try. I'm really dissapointed in these. Live and learn.
 
Leah Sattler
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Its looking like I'll be filling the pantry with chicken soup. Only getting one egg per day and I'm sure its the mutt descendent from the original hens.  ggrrrrrr.
 
paul wheaton
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I would wonder if they are getting enough protein and fat. 

Before butchering them, try feeding them lots of meat bits for two days. 

 
Leah Sattler
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I have considered dietary problems and that is a possiblity, but.. I have always fed my chickens our food scraps so in addition to whatever bugs and vegies they scrounge up themselves, they get just a bit of whatever we have eaten and anything in the fridge that is just slightly past its human edibility a few times a week (nothing gone bad)They also get extra milk almost daily and steal some alfalfa pellets and BOSS from the goats. As well as whatever vegies and greens come out of the garden that are more damaged than I want to mess with (severely cracked maters etc...) I have considered getting some layer ration but then I figure....all the other chickens I have had lay just fine on what I feed them! including a mutt that still is. I don't want chickens I have to coddle with special food that costs $10 a bag!  I might buy 1 bag just to satisfy my own curiosity, or just give them a little each day and see if it makes a difference before they go to the canner.  If it only takes a bit daily (maybe some slight deficiency or mineral that needs balancing) it might be worth it but I can't afford to have them on full feed. I might as well buy eggs for 2$/dozen from the guy down the road then.      I'll try it and let you know.
 
paul wheaton
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Suppose you feed them a buffet of meats and fancy feed and they lay like gangbusters.  And at the same time you have the red stars that are scrounging for food and laying even better.  Well, I would say that that is a valuable piece of knowledge! 

Suppose you feed them a buffet of meats and fancy feed and they still don't lay worth a damn.  Well, that too would be a valuable piece of knowledge!

What if you feed them great and they lay even better than the stars?  Then it would probably be wise to try giving the stars a bit more of the good stuff.
 
Dave Boehnlein
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Are the birds molting? They generally take a break from laying while they molt.

Dave
 
Leah Sattler
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no, they aren't molting. I made that excuse for them already. After that I made the excuse that it was hot and some birds don't lay much in the heat.  I am out of excuses for them. They would have finished their molt and started laying again months ago if that is what initiated the downturn in egg production and it isn't even hot anymore and hasn't been for weeks. Really, we had such a mild july/august that it shouldn't have stopped them anyway IMO. If I wait long enough I can say its too cold and the days are too short but really....  stupid birds. I am going to the feed store today and getting some REAL chickens. These posers are going to get a bit of laying ration and see what happens but they had better become stellar performers or they are gone-ers. er I mean in-ers. As in-in the stock pot and then in my tummy.
 
paul wheaton
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I would like to make a couple of suggestions about breed.

Take a look at McMurray hatchery.  Specifically, their pearl white leghorns.  It is a white egg, but no other breed performs like these chickens.

Also, you might consider Braggs Mountain Buff.  This guy simply took the biggest eggs and put them in the incubator for years and years.  And now he has a breed that lays heaps of freaky big eggs. 

 
Leah Sattler
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I ended up with three white leghorns once out of the bargain bin. They did lay like crazy! two were "naturally selected" out very early due to their tendency to wander into the backyard. but one stuck around for two years laying up until its demise after a fast downturn in health. I remember her specifically because I felt she reached name-able status. Twiggy. The only chicken I have ever named  I know they are used in commercial egg production for two years and then become nuggets I wondered if that was close to their natural lifespan. I have a ?black sex link? that is still around now after 5 years. she layed a  few eggs this spring but nothing now. she needs to go but somehow I think she deserves some credit for being around so long and she has raised several clutches and that can be useful.

I will have to look into the brags mountain buff. The most pleased i have been with hens is with the americanas (related to the auracanas) they were beautiful, layed well and the eggs were different colors which was neat. I postponed my trip to the feed store yesterday because I realized I would be going right by there today. I will likely still try ordering some if I can scrape up the dollars. That is one nice thing about buying locally. If you order them from mcmurray you have to buy minimum of 25 and pay shipping I think it was around 40$ last time.
 
Leah Sattler
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So. I bought 10 straight run chicks yesterday for $1.19/ea.... and came home to find an egg in the box from the barred rocks. Sheesh. Still, one egg will hardly redeem them. Hopefully I'll get at least 5 hens out of this batch and some will be good layers. 
 
Leah Sattler
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EVen if a bit of supplementation got the stars laying a bit better it is far better for me to get a few eggs with virtually no expense then to get a some extra at the expense of buying feed. with a choice of 7 eggs a day for free or 10 eggs for 10$ a week, I'm picking the free eggs. I feel better about eating the eggs from foraging chickens too I think they are healthier. 

One of the rocks could have layed or maybe not. I also have two I hens that I think are dark cornish in with the rocks and I have seen both of them in the hen box. I just assumed that it was one of the rocks that layed the two eggs over the past two days (aside from the mutts egg  that I reckognize). I haven't bought any laying ration. It was a choice between some starter mash for the new guys or the ration so I chose to not throw good money after bad. I'm betting on a few chicks. I'm making it a point to find different stuff to feed them (I really need to since they are locked up now) some birdseed that got pantry moths in them that I found in the freezer, along with a stash of old bread also in the freezer. Went to a restaraunt for a family get together yesterday. such strange looks when asking for takeout boxes and scraping everyones plate into it. I'm sure they wonder why I want  the grisle from the meat and peoples half eaten rolls, bits of butter and green beans    
 
Leah Sattler
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Now it looks as though one is starting a molt! There is an increasing number of barred feathers laying around the past two days.
 
Leah Sattler
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My subconscience is obvioulsy looking for some use for these chickens. I had a dream last night that I killed one and hung it in a tree to feed the birds because otherwise it was going to go to waste. 
 
Susan Monroe
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Stress will prevent them from laying.  The stress can be from molting, not enough protein, not enough water, etc.  The breed might be more sensitive to light deprivation than some.  People say that the number of hours of light will cause them to stop laying, but I am of the opinion that lack of light INTENSITY will do the same.  My girls (Buff Orpingtons) will start popping the eggs out as soon as we have a few really bright days in spring. Then they slack off on cloudy days.

What part of the country are you in, the north, by chance?

As an experiment, you could run an extension cord out to their coop and give them some extra hours of light, and see if that makes a difference.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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still bright sunny days here for the most part(first rain and thunderstorms in a while today). I'm in oklahoma and highs have been varying from the lower 70's to high 80's. I guess it is possible that it has been a series of things that have prevented them from laying. Maybe they were molting, then highs in the upper 90's, then shortening days. still getting an egg a day from the trusty mutt and the wild bantys have started laying again (they were in a molt for sure, I clipped there wings and they recently completed the growth of new flight feathers,not that clipping them slowed them down much) unfortunatley they are not easy to contain and despite having dummy eggs in a nest box they usually make little piles of eggs elsewhere for me to find while moving stuff around. I found 4 under an empty feed sack yesterday. I don't know how old they are so the were going to go to the dogs until my daughter decided to "cook" with them and made an egg and dirt batter. I dreamed lastnight that I found a bunch of packages of chicken in the car that I had forgot and wasted!hmmm its kind of weird that I think about these chickens so much. They have been getting some BOSS for a while now which is a good source of protein as well as vit e. No luck.
 
paul wheaton
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Leah Sattler
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I gave some away. soup for the others.

now I have.....in addition to some mix breeds that are descendants of my original birds........ two easter eggers, one thats large and black..don't know the breed.....and a brown leghorn.....all from the chicks I bought in september (ish?). I gave away a buff orpington and a black minorca to a freind also from that 'batch'. these are all laying great! I'm not buying barred rocks from  hatchery "X" again thats for sure! or anymore of the meat birds that I bought with the rocks that were way too sickly for my tastes. I think I buthered more of them to put them out of their misery then I did to eat.
 
paul wheaton
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fyi:  somebody told me yesterday that one thing that improves laying is to put a rooster in with the hens!

whodathunk?!
 
paul wheaton
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I was thinking .... 

Folks have animals that die from different kinds of sickness.  Or folks encounter road kill.  Or folks have food in their fridge that goes so nasty that it should not be fed to anything. 

And yet maggots or black sodier fly larvae love this sort of thing.  But that sort of thing does not like the winter cold.  And it is the cold season when bugs are scarce as chicken feed.  And it is this lack of protein that is (IMOO) the largest contributor to poor laying. 

Surely, a smart farmer would have some simple trick of putting something nasty out in the yard in the winter - kinda like the maggot feeder ...  something where the nastiness is consumed by maggots and then maggots feed the chickens.   

What is really needed is lots of flies that will mate and lays a million eggs on the nastiness so that the maggots will quickly be hard at work.  I suppose some sort of cooler with a hole in it would work.  The cooler would help to keep the cold out.  The nastiness would probably keep it 20 degrees warmer inside than outside.

Might one somehow catch flies in the warmer months and freeze them for this sort of use in the winter?

 
Kathleen Sanderson
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It's a thought, Paul, although I have to admit that I enjoy the winter respite from flies!  I think what might work best would be a spot in a warm outbuilding, such as a greenhouse.  I doubt that even an insulated ice chest would stay warm enough for flies to develop in a cold winter area. 

A lot of winter laying has to do with breed or strains within a breed.  I've had a number of chickens since we've lived here, and so far only the Wyandottes have laid fairly well during the winter without supplemental light.  They are getting commercial chicken feed along with whatever kitchen scraps we have, and all the alfalfa hay they want (it's nice to have those deep orange yolks even in the winter!).  The Wyandottes, nine Golden-laced and three Buffs, are about eight months old and started laying at about six months old.  I also have six Easter Eggers, and they stopped laying in October and I haven't seen a single egg from them since then.  But they are almost two years old, too.  They'll probably pick back up in a few weeks, so I won't get rid of them just yet.

Kathleen
 
paul wheaton
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I would think that in the winter they would want to stay inside the cooler or else they would surely die.

And besides, I think if any flies get near the chickens, they stand a good chance of becoming chicken feed.

 
Jennifer Smith
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My neighbor asked me for some eggs and I had to tell her I am not getting any extra right now.  She said to make sure they have plenty of warm water and they would go back to laying.  We do not get above freezing some days here now.
 
gary gregory
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I've noticed our hens are back to regular egg-laying in the last two weeks.   We don't provide artificial light.   We are at about 39 degrees latitude,  and it is about 60 days from winter solstice.   Didn't notice when production decreased in the fall.
 
Jordan Lowery
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our chickens started laying like crazy the day of the solstice. it was kind of weird and amazing at the same time like they knew. before we would get maybe a few eggs a day. the day of the solstice and every day after we have gotten anywhere from 8-18 eggs a day. though lately the numbers have been increasing even more.
 
paul wheaton
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