Hens stopped laying

by Carol Ballantyne
(San Jose, Ca. USA)

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 ??

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by: brad

Dear Carol,

I'm guessing that you have Production Reds, not Rhode Island Reds. Bovans Browns are a "Production" breed, meaning specifically bred for high production in the first 2 years, followed by a rapid decline in egg numbers. Production breeds are favored by people who specialize in selling eggs. They get a better egg to feed ratio, meaning it costs less to produce each egg and their profit will be higher. Production breeds are systematically replaced, older birds are generally sold for meat and young hens take their place. Production breeds were not designed for longevity. Not only will they slow their egg production, but general health can begin to decline as well. When selecting the chicken breed that is right for you, it can take some research. You will want to find a breed that thrives in your type of climate. Getting them from an established local hatchery is a great idea as these blood lines are already acclimated to your area. I would recommend looking into Heritage breeds. These are breeds with a long genetic history, are usually bred for long, healthy and productive lives. They will not lay as many eggs per year, but will lay for many years, are often good mothers and come from proven genetic blood lines. Unfortunately in our fast paced world, Production breeds have become what is most available. They are mass produced, inexpensive to buy, help feed stores sell lots of products, and will need to be replaced in a couple of years, if people find chicken keeping to their liking.

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