Hi There, I got your email about the hens not laying, but couldn't figure out how to respond. (for those who didn't see the og email: 12 hens, 1 1/2 years old, giving 2-3 eggs per day since July. Hens on og feed.

Questions:
1. What breed are they? Some of the "heritage breed" chickens lay fewer eggs than the production breeds, however, yes, 2-3 eggs per day seems really low for 1.5 years.

2. Are they molting?

3. Does it seem as if anyone is eating eggs (dried goop in nesting box).

4. Anyone going broody?

5. Do they have mites/lice? Go in at night with a flashlight and pick a hen off the roost, look under their tail feathers around the vent for mites. Lice you can see easily during the day, usually they will cluster around the vent.

6. Are they otherwise in good form, missing feathers, active, eating, drinking well?

7. How much space to they have to roam?

8. Do they have shade to escape the intense summer sun?

Something's not right. They should still be laying fairly well, depending on the breed, if they're not molting or broody.

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Replies to This Discussion

Here is a different analysis--my experience suggests that chickens that age begin to lay vigorously early spring, and begin to slow down in the heat in the summer, and continue to lay less productively into the fall and winter, as the amount of daylight diminishes.
I have heard, though have not tried, that illuminating the coop helps increase production.
Also, I would advise against butchering laying hens--you'll get some skinny, good for soup carcasses and not much else.
My girls always slow down in fall--- they are moulting and I think that makes them very crabby--- sort of like chicken PMS. Checking for lice is good, and I give black oil sunflower seeds for a nutritional boost. Also, I light up the coop at night to extend "daylight" hours. And by all means, don't butcher! Laying hens are scrawny and chewy, compared to the meat birds. All you will get is chicken soup and scraps for the dogs.
I rarely butcher hens, but when I do, they make a delicious broth and enough meat for a few pot pies (or some such). I've grown so used to the taste of dual purpose chickens, that a "meat bird" (aka cornish cross) is unappetizing to me now. No flavor. To tenderize older meat, I let them rest in the fridge for a few days, brining really helps too, if you care about the chewiness. Also, the heavier breed hens have more meat. The leghorns and sexlinks are scrawny, but my buff orps and marans have a nice body weight.
i would agree with that tendency to lay seasonally, though my sex links lay pretty much non-stop -doesn't matter what time of year. Ditto with a few other birds that happen to be really good layers.

i don't bother illuminating the coop for increased production. i think the hens need a time when they can rest, and not produce as much.
Ours lay better when we feed them oyster shells.
Are you feeding them strictly embudo organic feed? My chickens stopped laying when I did that. If thats all they're getting for feed maybe you should try supplementing their feed with some oats or look around for some feed recipes....or switch to commercial feed for awhile and see if anything changes.

Our chickens havent slowed down yet as far as laying for the winter season.
How long is this moulting going to go on? I think we're in week 5 already. I thought that list above was great. I'm going to add the light. The only change I've made in the last 5 weeks is that I quit using chick starter.
My older hens have been moulting for, yep, about 5 weeks. they're just about done, but they started their moult at different times. they still lay when they moult but less frequently. i started giving them BOSS when they started moulting, and they seemed to do well with that addition.
hi jennifer, i was under the impression from a previous post (i think it was you) that you l liked the embudo feed. so you stopped feeding embudo? when i first started feeding embudo to my hens this past summer, they did the same, their laying went way way down for a few days. i mixed in other grains and they came back up. now i'm just feeding embudo with BOSS (just since they've been molting), and they're doing well.
I had two bags of Embudo that I was really unhappy about awhile back, and I havent tried it since. I might give it another try...but if I have to suppliment Embudo to keep the hens laying then I think its not worth the bother due to the high price of the feed..
I'm still interested in mixing my own feed - just havent gotten there yet! First step for me is buying some bulk bins for storage.

Any suggestions for a basic recipe?
I agree that to supplement Embudo's high price feed is not worth the bother. I also don't like how much corn is in the feed. The hens pick it all out, then are wasteful with the powdery remains. I add goat milk or whey from cheesemaking to the remains to solidify them -the chickens like that.

Plus I'm trying to get away from soy. So I'm working on a formula (& working on collaborating with others) to mix our own. I think the easiest way to sub the protein is to sub some sort of field peas for the soy, then add mixed small grains: wheat, oats, milo, barley.... The smaller grains are easier to come by, organic corn and field peas, not quite as easy. I have to check who Shalali gets her bulk grains from. I know she gets them delivered. The bulk ordering is where a cooperative endeavor will come into play. OH and the grinding of the peas! I'll definitely post here on DCF when I have anything concrete to announce.
I could do some bulk ordering when you're ready. It would be great to have an 'Alb. Organic Mix' that we ordered the components for regularly... I realize that you posted about this last year, but we were in the middle of some other things and I couldn't devote my brain to this line of thinking just then. I am ready now or in the near future.
Also, I got to follow Shalali around at her place while she did morning chores recently, and I believe she spouts all her grains - including the peas - thus eliminating the need to grind?

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