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9 chickens, hardly ever any eggs!

 
Audrey Beard
Posts: 2
Location: Healesville, Victoria, Aus
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Hello,
So I have a curious situation with some inherited chickens.
My parents have bought a beautiful property that already has a fox proof chicken yard and chook house, and 9 Isa Brown chickens that are all around 2 years old.
It is spring in Victoria, Aus where we are, and there are hardly ever any eggs and I can't figure out why. They seem relaxed and happy and are fed a pretty standard pellet food (I'm working on getting some chook fodder plants growing).
The only thing I can think of is that something is eating them, but then wouldn't we see crushed egg shells lying around? I thought they may have found another place to lay, but I had a look in all the long grass and other places and didn't find any.
The chickens live in a citrus orchard, and I've heard that citrus either isn't good for chickens or just that they don't like it, could this be part of the problem?
Or if it was rats or snakes, could they take whole eggs without leaving a trace?
Any ideas or suggestions would be much appreicated!
Thanks
 
David Livingston
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Often birds dont lay in winter could it still be too early for them to have restarted ?

David
 
Lawson Deal
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Not familiar with the breed, but a chicken is pretty much the same world wide. They do slow way down in winter and some stop entirely for a time but what you are describing is odd. i will say this-I have kept chickens for years and just like us, they appreciate a variety of things. We tend to forget or choose to not admit that they are a few steps removed from raptors and if you have ever seen them discover a low lying bird nest you well know what I mean. I feed mine a variety of grains but I also give them table scraps as well, including meat scraps which they go bonkers over. i am not too keen on the prepackaged and chemically altered feed that is so common now. Try a butcher shop/slaughter house and ask after liver or other not so popular cuts of meat. Often they will give you the stuff just to get rid of it as people do not buy it any more.

Get a little protein in them and I think you may see a difference all round.
 
r john
Posts: 134
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We have crows that steal eggs even out of the chicken coop. We have overcome the problem by not letting the chickens out until the afternoon as they lay eggs normally in the morning and have replaced the nest boxes with plastic auto roll trays so that as soon as the chicken stands up the egg rolls under cover and can be collected from the outside by lifting a lid.
 
Andrew Parker
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Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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While egg eating predators (Magpies were the worst for us. Our neighbor would complain that the kids were throwing eggshells into his pool) and diet are reasonable explanations, I wouldn't give up looking for a hidden cache of eggs. I had 6 hens and every once in awhile we would find a well hidden cache with dozens of eggs. Hens will slow down or stop producing in Winter and when they moult.

If you are a serious farmer, you should be planning on replacing your hens soon. I kept my flock until they died or were killed (the last one died earlier this year at 11 years of age). They had value beyond egg laying as weed, bug and mice eaters, plus the kids were attached to them -- and maybe I was too.
 
Su Ba
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My thoughts.....
....Since it's spring, the hens should be laying. Two year old birds normally still lay a decent number of eggs although the total output is lower.
....Is the pellet feed for laying chickens? Not any old feed will do, especially with some of the more modern production breeds. A protein boost (meat, cat food, etc) should initiate laying.
.....How long have you had the hens? If the move has been recent, then they may have stopped laying until they adjust well to the new location.
.....If the hens have run of a large area, you may be missing the spot where they are hiding eggs. It's a common enough occurrence. It's happened to me a couple of times.
.....Since the eggs may not be being laid in protected nest boxes, predators may be eating them. In my location, rats, birds, stray dogs, and mongooses steal eggs. No, there are no shell bits left behind most of the time. The eggs simply vanish. One of my friends suspects that a neighbor was stealing her eggs, but trip wire alarms ruled that out. Turned out that it was most likely rats.
.....molting? Hens don't lay eggs if they are molting.
....Chickens do just fine around here in citrus orchards. In fact, my hens readily eat orange pulp. But they won't eat the rinds.

Hope you can sleuth out the answer.
 
Audrey Beard
Posts: 2
Location: Healesville, Victoria, Aus
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Su Ba wrote:My thoughts.....
....Since it's spring, the hens should be laying. Two year old birds normally still lay a decent number of eggs although the total output is lower.
....Is the pellet feed for laying chickens? Not any old feed will do, especially with some of the more modern production breeds. A protein boost (meat, cat food, etc) should initiate laying.
.....How long have you had the hens? If the move has been recent, then they may have stopped laying until they adjust well to the new location.
.....If the hens have run of a large area, you may be missing the spot where they are hiding eggs. It's a common enough occurrence. It's happened to me a couple of times.
.....Since the eggs may not be being laid in protected nest boxes, predators may be eating them. In my location, rats, birds, stray dogs, and mongooses steal eggs. No, there are no shell bits left behind most of the time. The eggs simply vanish. One of my friends suspects that a neighbor was stealing her eggs, but trip wire alarms ruled that out. Turned out that it was most likely rats.
.....molting? Hens don't lay eggs if they are molting.
....Chickens do just fine around here in citrus orchards. In fact, my hens readily eat orange pulp. But they won't eat the rinds.

Hope you can sleuth out the answer.


Thanks for all the help everyone!
The chickens were already here at the farm, so they haven't moved anywhere, only we have.
I'm pretty sure they're not molting, and I'm not 100% sure what the pellet feed is as I only live there part time (its my parents property), but I'll have a look next time I'm there-maybe that could be one of the issues. I'll look into that and get some more protein in their diet. If you're right about them not laying in their nest box, I wouldn't be surprised if other birds were getting them, as there as Ibis birds everywhere, and apparently they are partial to chicken eggs!
I'll keep you all posted if I manage to figure out the mystery
 
Tracy Kuykendall
Posts: 165
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Not familiar with all the predators you have in your area but many will carry whatever they get to a more private and safer place to eat. Foxes and feral cats are two, if you have access to a cage trap, place in in the nesting area with makeshift nest baited with fake or bought eggs behind the trigger. Another thing to try is put several of the fake eggs used to get hens to lay in particular nest and place them in your nest boxes, if the fake eggs start going missing you can begin a search to find them, they're much easier to locate than just broken eggshells.
 
Rob Browne
Posts: 65
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
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gonahas will take eggs whole and leave no trace. Check your trees for one, they can be hard to find.
 
Ken W Wilson
Posts: 339
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Did you figure it out? Do you have snakes there big enough to eat an egg? We had a black snake eat some when I was a kid. It didn't seem big enough.
 
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