Can these birds be done laying already?

Posted by: Anonymous

Can these birds be done laying already? - 11/16/05 10:29 AM

I have an ancona and two buff minorcas and possibly some other breeds that have quit laying altogether. They initially stopped when they began to molt, but the molt seems to be over, at least I'm not seeing that many feathers laying around. Then they started to lay again then stopped again. Their combs look frosted (light and appear dry). Does the appearance of the light comb mean that they have stopped laying for good or does this happen when they mold as well. I didn't notice during the molt. I've only been getting 9-11 eggs out of 23 hens and can't afford to keep them all if they won't produce again. The birds in question are purebreed and just over a year old.
Posted by: Rack

Re: Can these birds be done laying already? - 11/16/05 11:22 AM

Have they had a scare? Loud noises, wild animals,... This will shock them into not laying for a few days. Changes in temperature sometimes also seems to slow them up. Changes in their pen, changes in almost anything, molting...
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Can these birds be done laying already? - 11/16/05 12:13 PM

No changes. Really wondering about the change of color in the combs. I know they say that you can tell by the color of the combs if the hen is laying. I just want to know if once they change they're done laying for good or if they will get red again and resume laying. Is the change usually temporary or permanent? Are they too young to have stopped laying permanently?
Posted by: Garden Chick

Re: Can these birds be done laying already? - 11/16/05 12:47 PM

Pale combs are normal while not laying. I've read here that pullet's combs start to turn red as they start to lay. How old are they? They should lay ok until a couple years old, with breaks.
Posted by: Sarah B.

Re: Can these birds be done laying already? - 11/17/05 07:29 PM

It is getting to that time of year when hens stop laying for awhile. It takes about 14 hours of light for a hen to lay an egg. One way to fix this problem is to put a light on them. Caculate how many hours of daylight you have and then supplement with artifical lighing to make 14 hours of light. You will also notice a decrease in the size of comb and wattles of hens that have stopped laying. The faces will become pale as well. Don't be alarmed, this is quite natural for hens. I usually give my birds a couple months of rest before starting up the supplemental lighting. Hens generally lay really well for the first two years. Then begin to slack of after that. You will still get eggs just not as many. Did you know that when a pullet hatches she has (according to Story's Guide To Raising Chickens) about 4000 undeveloped eggs inside her. Cool!!!
Posted by: Rob2

Re: Can these birds be done laying already? - 11/17/05 08:08 PM

Do you think the light will make them lay more eggs? I am of the opinion that they will lay a certain number of eggs each year, the added light will cause them to possibly produce more out of season but at the end of the year, the number would be the same. Advantage to added light is to gain more out of season eggs, not a higher total nuimber of eggs. If the eggs will be used for hatching and breed improvement, it is unwise to stress the hens by this procedure as it may cause a weaker egg thus chick thus adult fowl.???
We tried artificial lights to get early hatched stags in the game chickens, we achieved that but the later hatches were as good or better performers, even being a couple months less mature.
Posted by: Sarah B.

Re: Can these birds be done laying already? - 11/17/05 09:00 PM

The purpose of the light is start them laying again. I don't think it will make them lay anymore eggs than before the light. As for how many eggs a bird lays a year, that depends upon the breed, feeding, housing, climate, stress and the like. If you take care of your birds they should lay to the best of their ability. We have never have had any trouble with weaker birds in the winter as compared to the summer. On the contrary, with an incubator it is much easier to get better hatches in the winter. You can control the temperature and humidity better. You can always add to it but it is more difficult to take away.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Can these birds be done laying already? - 11/17/05 10:41 PM

How long does it take for artifical lighting to take affect? I've got 16 hrs of light a day now for over 3 weeks and still not a single egg from 30 hens. All molted and are done, got good feed and I am out of ideas.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Can these birds be done laying already? - 11/18/05 09:57 AM

Booth Creek Poultry:
When you decide to add lighting for winter production, it has to be done gradually. When I do it, I increase by about 30 minutes over two days. It take about a month before light stimulation has the desired affect and egg production begins.
You should see the combs on the hens get full and red again by now, after 3 weeks. That's one of the first signs that they are getting ready. They should also be very active and beginning to eat more.
I put lights on my breeders just after Christmas last year and got my first egg on January 29th - the others soon followed.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Can these birds be done laying already? - 11/18/05 04:22 PM

My chickens are eating like pigs and have bright red combs, yellow legs and over all look healthy and are highly active. I started with 15 hrs of light a day and gradually got longer. They don't seem to care though. The last 3 years they were laying without light and this year the quit mid august and never started again.....
Posted by: Sarah B.

Re: Can these birds be done laying already? - 11/18/05 10:20 PM

Have you checked them for worms or parasites? Are their faces red? Have their combs grown in size? You will see the combs grow larger before they begin to lay. Perhaps older age is taking effect too. Remember that three year old chickens do not lay as well as one or two year olds do.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Can these birds be done laying already? - 11/19/05 09:49 AM

Booth Creek Poultry:
Are you saying that you are expecting full production from birds that are in their 4th year?
It might be time to start over. In my breeding flock I have some old breeders, as old as 6 years, some still lay, others haven't for a couple of years now. For the most part, mine don't get any extra light - only if I have a breeding pair or two that I want to get a head start with to be ready for exhibition.
I think you might be expecting too much. If you got good production from them for 3 years without addition light, they have been excellent producers for you. My guess is that these hens are a production hybrid and that whoever developed them likely didn't even try to determine their laying ability past 2 years, they're meant for high production, not long life.
My suggestion for the future would be to purchase replacements when your current flock reaches 12-18 months of age so they are ready to lay when your current flock is ready for their 2nd moult.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Can these birds be done laying already? - 11/20/05 10:32 AM

No, the hens are not 4 yrs old, but the last 3 yrs where I had chickens I never needed a light. before that I lived in germany and there my ten, 13 yrs old aussies never needed a light to lay either. The hens themself are right now 9 months(black stars that still haven't started laying) and 1.5 yrs old.
I dewormed and debugged about 2 months ago and they look all awesome,besides the leghorns(4 of them), those are still molting.
Today one of my old banties(8 yrs old) surprised me with an egg, the first one I've seen in months, and she doesn't get fancy layer feed or any extra light....... That means I'll at least get 1 banty egg each day from now on, this hen is better then any of those commercial layers, 8 yrs old and lays like crazy when she isn't moulting or broody.