Egg mystery

Adam Taggart
By Adam Taggart on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 - 11:41pm

4 chickens. 

Each 1.5 years old.

7 days.

1 coop with 2 laying boxes.

NO eggs.

My girls have been slowing down their egg production with the shortening days and the onset of winter (though "winter" here in Northen California isn't anywhere as severe as more northen states). A few have molted recently or are currently molting.

But I haven't seen a single egg since a week ago.

They're well-fed and they pastured every day, as they've been doing for the past 5 months. Nothing in their routine has changed that I can see.

Anyone seeing a similar strike with their flock?

,

13 Comments

rmurfster's picture
rmurfster
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 17 2008
Posts: 82
Mystery solved!

Assuming your chickens are otherwise healthy, that is perfectly normal behavior. There are several articles out there on how light affects egg production. 14 hours of sunlight is optimal for egg laying. Right now in NE Ohio, I have 9 hours of sunlight and my 20 chickens are layng about 3 to 4 eggs per day. For the past 2 months, we've had weeks where we had 0 production. Also, a molt can take up to 2 months to complete which can decrease or completely eliminate egg production.  Also realize that a chicken will slow down egg production atlfter each molt, but lay much nicer eggs. I will be putting a low wattage red light in my coop shortly to simulate 14 hours of sunlight.

Hope this helps.

Doug's picture
Doug
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 1 2008
Posts: 2754
light

We have a light in the coop with a timer to give them about 12 hours a day of light.  Nonetheless, production from six hens has gone down to 2-4 eggs a day in the past week or so.  I live not far from rmurfster and guess our weather is about the same.

Oh yeh, I found that allowing them to "free range" results in eggs being laid in places other than the coop.  I have a stack of straw bales in a lean-to that they favor.

Doug

jasonw's picture
jasonw
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2011
Posts: 804
Thinking more about increasing duck numbers

My chickens (14 hens) have all dropped to almost nothing for egg production ( tomorrow we get another minute of light - hope that helps) but our 3 laying ducks have just started laying and now are getting 1 egg a day to start.  From what we have read, ducks produce more eggs on a regular basis and and they seem to be much better foragers.  Only issue so far is making sure they have clean water to swim in.  A big thanks goes out to Hilary H. for the free kiddie pool.  Always hate having to buy eggs when we have so many chickens. 

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 1860
Still eggless

FYI: here we are, 12 days later (so ~ 3weeks in all) and still eggless.

I'm guessing it's due to:

  • normal winter slowdown in egg production
  • molting (2 birds are mid-molt, 1 is about one month post)
  • stress (all 3 birds witnessed the death of their sister by hawk)

But even in spite of this triple-whammy, I'm surprised not to find the occasional egg.

I'm beginning to suspect they have a secret laying spot outside of the run, which they're using when pastured (most days).

Has anyone else experienced an eggless streak this long?

AkGrannyWGrit's picture
AkGrannyWGrit
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 6 2011
Posts: 160
Eggless

We are only getting about 5.5 hours of daylight now so we provide supplemental light for our hens. Don't know if that is a problem where you live but thought I would mention it as hens need about 12 hours of daylight or their hormons might be affected. Just a thought.

AK Granny

Retha's picture
Retha
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 13 2011
Posts: 66
My girls on vacation too

Egg production way down!  Plus, in Texas we have a rollercoaster weather pattern going, a day hot, a day cold, drought, torrential rain and that's just this week!  I have a few that haven't laid an egg in over a month and seem to have given up until spring!  No eggs at all during molt and seemed to take awhile for them to get back into the swing of things after molt.  I have 38 good layers - in the summer, I get more than 2 dozen a day.  Now, I'm lucky if I see 10 on our warm days and 6 on our cold days.  I don't add light or anything, just go with nature since I have so many, I always get some eggs!

I have a friend in Minnesota that has 5 hens, they are on strike too after a raccoon got one of them.  It's been about a month for her.  0 eggs

I hear if you put a 'pretend' egg (wooden or plastic) in each nest box it might help them figure it out and get back on track. Never tried it, but curious if it works.

Good luck!

Travlin's picture
Travlin
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 15 2010
Posts: 1322
You should try it

Retha wrote:

I hear if you put a 'pretend' egg (wooden or plastic) in each nest box it might help them figure it out and get back on track. Never tried it, but curious if it works.

My Grandmother did this for many years, so she was convinced it helped.  It costs little and dosen't hurt to try.

Travlin 

GiraffeOK's picture
GiraffeOK
Status: Bronze Member (Online)
Joined: Apr 14 2009
Posts: 25
Maybe they're just resting

A consultant at the local feed store recommended increasing the hens’ protein during the months when bugs and worms are not readily available. He suggested adding soy meal to their diet. However, my hens do not eat such small particles as readily as they eat the bigger egg pellets, scratch and sunflower seeds. Simply increasing the overall amount of feed may help. He also said to be sure they have plenty of clean, fresh water available.

Although my hens’ egg production is down significantly, I’m not trying to stimulate it. I wonder if it isn’t better for the health of the chickens to let them follow their natural rhythm and let their bodies rest more (i.e., produce less) during the cold, dark days of winter.

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 1860
At last!

An egg!

5 weeks and 1 day after writing the post above, one of my older hens plopped down her feathery tush and re-entered active duty today by laying an egg.

Hoping the laying strike is officially over and the other girls join soon in the action. The past 5 weeks have been like raising human teenagers: all my chickens ever did was eat, sleep and poop. Finally they're (hopefully) back earning their keep.

And in another 2 months or so, my pullets should start producing, too. It will be nice to have the problem of too many eggs...

Good-bye, (West coast) Winter - Spring will be on its way, soon!

In fact, the camilia bush next to my coop started blooming this week. Warmer weather, here we come! (Sorry to gloat east coasters, but it's times like this when I revel in having moved away from New England winters)

jasonw's picture
jasonw
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2011
Posts: 804
Adam - more eggs today?

Checking in to see if you had breakfast this morning from the bounty of the hen?  We hit 9 eggs today and we swapped out the 57 watt incandescent bulb with a new 8 watt LED bulb and all seems to be well.  It feels a little weird putting a $20 light bulb in the chicken coop but since it runs for 6 hours a day, it seems like one of the best spots to have it. 

Hope the ladies are picking up production for you.

Jason

PS - medium boiled duck eggs seem easier to peel. 

kevinoman0221's picture
kevinoman0221
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 25 2008
Posts: 125
My ladies just started back

My ladies just started back up again last week too! Been missing those delicious home-grown eggs.

jeffrost's picture
jeffrost
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 29 2012
Posts: 4
Chickens stopped laying

I have four Warren chickens, four eggs a day regular as clockwork then ten days ago only two eggs a day! I looked on the forums, checked out broody hens, underfed hens, underwatered hens, stressed hens but no joy. Today the gotcha moment! My chooks have decided that their laying spot is now under some old logs under a really prickly blackberry bush. Chickens 1 human nil.

Woodman's picture
Woodman
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 26 2008
Posts: 1025
hidden eggs

I had a couple Americaunas that liked to jump the fence last year, and I just found their spot last week under a pile of brush where there was hidden a pile of eggs.

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