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Our hens haven't started laying again yet...why?**UPDATE**

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
All the chicken experts out there, please help me figure out why our hens haven't started laying again yet.

We are now experiencing over 10 hours of daylight per day. We have 24 hens, 12 of which were born in July, the other 12 were born the previous year. Some of the hens are Buff Orpington, some Golden Laced Wyandotte, some Sussex, and some are a mix of the above. And we haven't seen a single egg since the fall. What are those hens thinking?
post #2 of 21
I've read that they need 13 hours of light to lay.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
13 hours, really? : Then they would only lay between the equinoxes, but we had eggs last year before the month of April. And what about at the equator where there's always 12 hour days? Don't people get any eggs there?

I suppose the hens probably need a lot of daylight for maximum, ideal egg production, but I'm wondering about the absolute minimum of daylight needed for them to just lay one egg occasionally.

Does anyone know of any good online chicken resource or book that I could consult?

And does anyone else have any experience with hens starting to lay after the winter break?

TIA!
post #4 of 21
No help here, my hens have been laying all winter
post #5 of 21
Your younger hens may not start laying until spring- I know they tell you 6 months is the norm but when I have hens that were hatched late summer and hit maturity in winter they always tend to start in early spring.

The older girls- perhaps they are molting? We got zero eggs until a few weeks ago when mine finally finished molting. Are they penned or free range and maybe hiding eggs somewhere?
post #6 of 21
its my understanding 13 hours of light is needed to lay, so either start a light on a timer a few hours before daylight, or wait until the natural daylight increses
post #7 of 21
We have had eggs all winter too. If you aren't snowed in and your hens are free range they could have a clutch or two(just about anywhere). We have gone on egg hunts in the summer and found a dozen+ eggs in the berrry bushes. We use the light not only to get them laying but for warmth:. I have raised those same breeds you mentioned all good layers.
post #8 of 21
They sound young. The chickens we got as babes at the end of April only started laying in late October, but the've been laying like crazy all winter and we don't have a timer or that much daylight here.

I am going to bet come Arpil, you'll see lots of eggs. Some breeds take longer-- and you have some nice, non industrial breeds. Industrial Rhode Island Reds don't take as long to lay as some of what you have, kiwm?

ETA-- I reread and you have some older birds not alying as well. I would look around for a clutch as suggested. If you had a broody hen, she may have moved them. (I love watching that! lol). Or perhaps they are molting? What are they eating? What os there health, in general?
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks everybody for all the input! They still aren't laying.

They are mostly huddled in their house during this cold, snowy weather, but the rest of the year they are free-range. They have been eating organic chicken feed during the winter. :

For those people who said their hens have been laying eggs all winter, how many hours of light are your hens getting? We're getting about 10.5 hours of daylight here.

Is it possible that rodents are stealing the eggs from the older hens?
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by rayo de sol View Post
They have been eating organic chicken feed during the winter.
OMG. I just gasped out loud (dh is all "what?? what???") and read this at least five times thinking, she did not seriously just post that she feeds organic chicken to her hens....




that is all
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Periwinkle View Post
she feeds organic chicken to her hens....
: Ha! The hens wish! (They are some crazy carnivores, aren't they?) Too bad for them the feed is mostly just corn and soybeans with some supplements thrown in.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
OK, I'm seriously considering this supplemental lighting thing. Usually they're laying by this time of year, but for whatever reason, the hens are holding back.

There's no electricity at the hen house. So, does anybody know of a light with a timer that operates on a battery?
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by rayo de sol View Post
: Ha! The hens wish! (They are some crazy carnivores, aren't they?) Too bad for them the feed is mostly just corn and soybeans with some supplements thrown in.

Ok, this alone makes me think it's their diet. They do need more real protein, not soy based. This may sound weird, but look for an organic dog food that doesn't have soy, corn or extra crap fillers, in small bites. Look for around 20% no more than 23% protein. If they aren't able to range and get bugs right now, this will help.

Also look for lice or mites in their feathers, esp. around the vents. If they have a heavy load of parasites, that will have a factor in things as well. If you are able to get food grade DE, mix that with their food, it gives them quality trace minerals and many belive it aids in keeping away internal parasites as well.
post #14 of 21
The first year hens lay they are less (if at all) affected by the low-light factor in winter. So my hens that hatched late May started laying in December and are plowing right through--but that won't be the case next year.

Are you giving them calcium?

You might try the BackyardChicken.com forum. Those people know everything.
post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 
double post--sorry!
post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
Reeseccup, dog food for chickens? Wow, I never heard of that, but it sounds like a good idea. Is this a standard practice? Is there any chance of endangering the hens health--or my family's health through eating the eggs--by just feeding them dog food? (I'm thinking about that whole pet food recall fiasco.)

I'm not happy about the soy-based chicken feed, but I can't find an organic chicken feed that has a different protein source. Soy seems to be the industry standard. Can anyone recommend some good brands of chicken feed?

What is food-grade DE?

Heatherdeg, the hens get oyster shell meal for calcium, plus there are minerals added to their feed by the manufacturer. Thanks for the website tip!

Thanks y'all for all the advice! Keep it coming--this is really helpful.
post #17 of 21
It's easier to find organic quality dog food, than it is to find organic chicken food, plus I can get orgnaic dog food that doesn't have soy or corn in it. Just look around in your area at the types of dog foods, if you are comfortable, and read lables, understand them and them make that decision. I'm comfortable with it, but many are not, since many aren't comfortable with feeding their poultry animal meat...I've been known to feed my chickens butchering remains, but I understand how chickens are. I would never feed my goats any meat products, because they aren't meant to eat it.

Mine are also allowed to range daily, which helps out a lot for their moods and diet. As for eating the eggs, I feel comfortable with it, but again, I'm comfortable with what I feed them more now than before when I was settling with chicken food. No, I don't believe it's standard practice, and most people would do what you did, gasp, omg you're feeding your chickens dogfood?! I choose to look outside of the box for my animals nutrition, and so I learn about what their needs are and find a source I'm most comfortable with and works for them.

Food Grade DE
post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 
They started laying again!!! We are experiencing 11.5 hours of daylight now, so I guess that's what they were waiting for. (We haven't hooked them up with any supplemental lighting. The only thing that has changed is the length of the day.)
post #19 of 21
That's great! I was going to suggest you put a store-bought egg or some golf balls in their nests to get them going. It seems like once one of ours starts, they all get on the stick and lay like crazy. It's weird.
post #20 of 21
Yea, in most cases, it's just a wait and it'll come soon enough, thing.
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