When will my chickens lay?

Question
When will my chickens lay? I bought some hens on 2/21/11... do they have to acclimate before they start laying?

Two of them are the kind with feathers on their legs, one is a Buff Orpington.

Answer
Chickens lay when they feel comfortable in a new area, or when they have to. Hopefully you have a nice set up for them with nest boxes.

Sometimes the stress of moving to a new home can delay some egg laying. You didn’t mention how old these hens are, that can make a difference, too.

If you don’t know their approximate hatch month, you might want to check with the seller. Different chicken breeds mature at different rates, so don’t all start laying at the same age.

I like to keep fake eggs in my nest boxes. A chicken looks in there and thinks: .. ‘hmmm, somebody else has laid eggs here, no one has taken them, this must be a good spot’, ( or something along those lines).

If you don’t have any of those plastic “bunny” eggs around, you should be able to find a few in stores now.

Just keep your girls happy, let them know you are the friend that brings the food, makes sure they get enough minerals; especially calcium, locks them up safe at night, lets them out in the morning, cleans their water bowl, shovels out the coop when needed, (and doesn’t take all the eggs.)

It’s the rare hen that doesn’t lay. As long as they aren’t too old or too young, you should have eggs any day now.

Make sure they get plenty of fresh air, sunshine (when available), exercise, fresh vegetation and some fruit, and that the feed you buy is good quality and balanced for their needs.

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Why Have the Girls Stopped Laying?

by Edith
(NH)

Question
Why Have the Girls Stopped Laying? I have four seemingly healthy Rhode Island Red hens, and for the past several days there hasn't been a single egg.

I lock them in their coop, and despite usually finding four eggs in the morning, there simply are none.

There aren't any shell fragments either, so the hens haven't been eating the eggs. What could be causing all four hens to stop laying at the same time?

Answer:
There are a number of different factors that could cause this to happen.

1) They could be beginning to molt. If this is the case they will stop laying.

2) Their could be some sort of sickness floating around. If one of them is coming down with something it could affect the entire lot. Watch them closely for any symptoms of sickness.

3) Really any new stress could cause this such as: temperature increases (or decreases), new food, new living conditions, predator activity outside the coop at night, etc.

Bare with the girls and give them a chance to work it out. They usually do.

Question 2
We got our chicks 3 years ago ( 3 Rhode Island Reds and 3 Bovan Browns) they layed great for the first 2 years, now we are only getting 1 or 2 eggs a day...they all seem alert and active and eating well..we feed them commercial Laying crumbles, oyster shells and occ.

Manna supplement, we also give them vegi scraps from the kitchen and lots of greens from the garden.

We live in San Jose, Calif, so we have early spring and mild winters.

What can we do to help them start laying again ?

Answer
It’s normal for hens to take a break from laying. My hens layed all winter and have been having a bit of a break, but are starting up again.

Production breeds can be layed out by 2 years of age. I’ve never had Bovan’s, so not familiar with their laying habits.

If your Reds are true RIR from good Heritage blood lines they should start up good laying again soon with all the good foods you give them. If they are Production Reds they may be done and it’s time to replace them.

Really any new stress could cause them to stop laying such as temperature changes, new food, new living conditions, predator activity outside the coop at night, etc.

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Help my hens lay eggs

by Joseph watson
(North carolina)

Question
Help my hens lay eggs: I have 3 hens and none of them have started laying eggs. I am feeding them right and they are the right age plzzzzzz help with any advice.

Answer
Hens lay eggs in response to “day light” hours. If your area has been experiencing many dark days, even though the days are getting longer again, this may be the reason.

Some people use artificial light in the coop to encourage laying. If you have the ability to light the coop, I’d suggest keeping the light on for 24 hours straight.

Using a fluorescent light, as opposed to incandescent. Fluorescent lights more closely mimic the full spectrum of natural sunlight.

Then keeping the light on in the coop for a couple of hours past sunset, every night, until day light hours are at their peak, will probably get them laying.

Just be sure to give them the best layer feed you can afford, provide enough calcium, fresh water, access to fresh vegetation and a stress free environment.

You might want to add some dummy eggs to the nests. These can be purchased from poultry supply companies, or you can use golf balls, wooden eggs, egg shaped rocks or the plastic bunny eggs available in stores now.

Hopefully they are not eating their eggs. If so, the dummy eggs can fool the chickens into believing real eggs are not food. Hope this helps.

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When does a hen stop laying?

Question
When does a hen stop laying? My hens are getting older but still laying. I just want to know when I should start replacing the flock.

Answer
There are as many different possible answers to this as there are types of chickens. Heritage breeds are long lived as can produce eggs longer than Production breeds.

Many factors play into this as well, such as genetics and quality of care and feeding and lack of stress.

I’ve never been one to keep records of all the ages of my hens, but do keep a daily record of how many eggs I get.

I would suggest that you keep track of eggs (I have a special calendar I mark when I bring eggs in) and when it gets to the point the numbers are dropping (excluding the molt and possibly winter time and extreme heat) it’s time to bring in some new hens.

It all depends on how you want to manage your flock. Some people are “out with the old and in with the new”, while others want to keep their chickens around as long as they can.

If you can afford to keep feeding hens that don’t lay a much as before, you could add few new hens to the flock.

I prefer to buy pullets ready to lay, rather that raising chicks, but everyone has their own way.

You didn’t say what breed(s) you have or how old they are, so I couldn’t really say at what point these should be replaced.

Production bred hens can often be laid out by 2 years old. Like I said, I’ve never kept track of hen ages, but know I’ve had some still very productive Americaunas at about 5 years old.

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