We recently started keeping ducks with our backyard chickens. We started with 4 Indian Runners the summer before last, and added 4 Khaki Campbells this last spring. The Runners laid 3-4 eggs/day right through November, then slowed down for Dec-Feb, and back up in March. The Campbells also started out laying strong, and we got 7-8 eggs/day from the 8 hens all summer long. Then, mysteriously, sometime in late Aug/early Sept, they dwindled down and then stopped laying altogether. We haven't gotten a single duck egg in over 6 weeks.
Causes that I think I've eliminated:
* molt (they did molt in early Sept, but that seems to be long over)
* poor nutrition (they used to get full-access food, we just switched to daily feeding. good quality layer pellets. they also get frequent garden access & kitchen scraps)
* threat from predators (occasional possum presence - not a major threat - and no sign of raccoons lately. their coop is coon-proof)
* a hidden nest (their coop is 100 sq ft and their run is only about 300 sq ft -- not much room to hide
* old age (they're all 2-3 years old)
What else could it be? Storey's hasn't been much help. Is it possible they stopped laying due to molt, and then just haven't started back up again? Is there a way we can jump-start them?
our Runners slow down production after 2 years and become more sensitive to shorter days. If they molt they usually don't start laying again till the spring. Have not tried artificial light but it might help. Good Luck
Can't say for sure, but it sounds like a combo of moulting and the winter. Some birds start laying right after they finish moulting; others wait out the winter. If you think about it from an evolutionary perspective, it probably makes more sense to wait out the winter.
Age could be a factor, too. Most commercial poultry are killed before their 2nd birthday because their egg-laying declines. I think in a good permaculture system, in which you aren't paying to feed them, older birds can still be valuable to a farm, but less and less of their contribution will be from eggs.
At any rate, it doesn't sound unusual, and I would expect laying to pick back up in January or February.
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