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Why won't all my hens lay eggs?  RSS feed

 
Darrin Neagoy
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Hi,

I have 9 chickens I purchased on April 5 of this year. There are 5 Buff orpingtons and 4 white leghorns.  All are hens except for one rooster. The birds are kept in a 6x8 foot mobile chicken tractor in a 25x 25 ft poultry net paddock. I move them around my yard for fresh grass as often as I can, usually once a week. The birds are fed Dumor layer feed with water in their food and have access to water within the coop. They have begun laying and I am so far getting 5 eggs a day.  I believe one of the my leghorns is not laying. Her comb and waddle don't appear as well developed as the other leghorn hens. She has layed eggs as I have collected 4 white eggs, but most recently 2 orpingtons have been laying in her stead. Is there anything i can do for her, or should look into? This leg horn appears to be healthy in all respects as far as I can tell. Attached are some pics of her with a few other members of her flock. Thank you in advance for any guidance.

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Jim Fry
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Location: Stone Garden Farm Richfield Twp., Ohio
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A most common statistic I have heard is that a good hen will lay 256 eggs a year. If they're not laying that, they are probably too old, too young, stressed out, underfed or poorly fed.
 
Deb Rebel
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It could be that though she's started laying she's still growing and getting used to it. Plus may need more calcium and nutrients yet to finish growing (you mention her comb and that don't seem fully developed yet). How long ago did you switch to laying feed? She might need chick feed for awhile yet to finish growing.

I'd say she might have a hidden nest spot but you have them in a tractor.
 
James Freyr
Posts: 362
Location: Middle Tennessee
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My first suspicion is secret nesting site. I've noticed over the years some of my layers seem to lay for a while, then don't, then start again. No real rhyme or reason to it, it seems. My egg production went down during some stifling heat in June and July, then picked back up again when more pleasant weather returned. One of my birds tangled with a hawk, she stopped laying for weeks.

Did you purchase these birds as baby chicks or adults? If you acquired them as adults, and you live in the northern hemisphere, they may be starting to molt since winter is approaching. A few of mine are starting to look pretty ratty, indicating the start of a molt, and my egg production is less than half of what it was during the summer.
 
Marcus Billings
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Location: South Central Indiana
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Hi Darrin,  I think your husbandry if fine.  A couple of points and questions:

Not really sure that you have a problem here.  Your getting 5 eggs a day from young birds which is about right for this time of the year in the northern hemisphere.  If you got them as chicks back in April, they are still developing in certain respects.  They will not be laying everyday.  The will settle in and lay much more this coming spring. 

Although some breeds do lay in the winter, all breeds experience a fall off in winter unless they are artificially lit and heated, which in my opinion is harmful to the birds.  Your birds are certainly not laying every day, more like one every other day, which is normal.  Your post seems to imply that you know which leghorns are laying.  If this is true, the one leghorn has probably not matured as fast as the others, but I don't think that's what's happening.  If the all birds have access to the nesting boxes throughout the day, she's probably been in there and laid eggs when you didn't notice.  Chickens will use whichever nesting box that they find convenient, so if another hen is in it, she may be laying in another box.  You have 4 leghorns, which all lay white eggs, so I guess my  question is "How do you know for certain what she is laying as opposed to the other birds?"

Also, there are many things that determine the number of eggs a hen will lay in a year.  Depending on the breed and health you can expect between 160 and 290 per year.  Leghorns are prodigious layers, but 250 plus a year is on the high side for most birds. Remember, those are "full" year numbers.  In the fall and winter, you will find that cut by half or two thirds easily. 

Hope this helps.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau Darrin,  First off, are you sure that all the birds are the same age? Some look fairly young in your photos to be laying. Hens usually start laying with a two to three day period between eggs then move toward an egg a day and the eggs will generally get larger as the bird gets older.
With our hens we look for an egg every other day, that schedule means the bird won't burn out as fast as an egg a day layer.
It sounds to me like you are doing everything right and just need to wait for the birds to come into egg laying. (the rooster will show you some interesting behavior that affects the hens too, if the roo is trying to mount hens all the time, that can put those hens on hold as far as egg laying goes.
Our hens tend to not lay when they are disgruntled with the roo or have been frightened by something.

Mostly I think your hens will do fine for you and only patience is needed from you for now.

Redhawk

In that last picture it sure looks like one hen and one rooster to me, the full comb and wattle is almost a sure sign of a leghorn roo.  In one of the further up photos I see an B.O. roo, that means you probably have two roosters.
 
Skandi Rogers
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Location: Denmark 57N
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I've got 7 hens and am getting around 4-5 eggs a day, one of mine isn't laying right now, (she lays blue so easy to spot) She stopped laying becasue she was stressed, and has now decided to molt, I notice my one white layer is also starting to moult, she lays thorugh her molt but not as often. It's also up here in Northern Denmark less than 4-5 weeks before they all stop laying for winter, so they do slow down soon anyway.
 
Darrin Neagoy
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I originally had 12 chickens. 4 were roosters, and were harassing the hens to no end. I processed three for the table and kept the one that seemed to be the best with them. Initially I bought 8 buff orpington straight run and 2 white leghorns pullets, as advertised at tractor supply, then a week later decided to get two more from a different tractor supply. I was told the chicks I first bought were a week old, and the new leghorns I got I believe were not much older than maybe a day from the original 10 I got.

I was concerned that maybe the less developed hen was sick but hiding her illness, but i wasn't sure. I no longer think she's a sick hen. I still just think she's laying less. Every chance I get I take a peak at them and haven't seen her in the nesting boxes. There are two in the back of the tractor.
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