chickens not laying well : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

We have 16 hens that are about 9 months old. They started laying well this summer and fall. We are now only getting 2 eggs a day. They are able to run where they want in the goat pens. They are fed a lay mash of 17% protien, table scraps and whatever else they can come up with on their own. Our weather is down to 20's-30's at night and up to 50's-60's in the daytime. They have quit laying in the lay boxes and I am finding the eggs in the hay manger. I have looked around to see if I am missing where they are laying them and I am pretty sure that I have found all of the hiding places.

-- Vearle and Janie Payne (, December 17, 2000


They are most likely not getting enough light. Chickens often stop completely in the winter if they don't have the right combination of warmth and light. If you can leave a light on in the coop for a few hours in the evening they should pick up in a week or two.

I don't think they would be molting yet at 9 months, so that shouldn't be the problem.

-- Doreen (, December 17, 2000.

My old hens have quite laying also------it is cold here & we have a lot of snow--they are getting fed well & water----but I agree with Doreen they need more light & mine probably need to be warmer to lay! Their chicken house doesn't have electricity --so they can have a rest until it gets warmer-----Doreen, has good advice for you ----she is right on target again!!!!!! Sonda in Ks.

-- Sonda (, December 18, 2000.

Say Doreen,

I'm in the same boat (on a farm?) as Vearle & Jamie. My chickens have almost stopped laying because of lack of light and cold temperatures. So, does it take a lot of light to get them back in gear? Are we talking a string of 100 watt bulbs or heat lamps or just what 'xactly are you using? 'Cause I've got the prettiest oval ice cubes in the neighborhood! Except they don't crack into the skillet very well. And they bend the mixer blades something fierce :).


-- Craig (, December 18, 2000.

I'm not what you would call an expert, but I am still getting alot of eggs.I have 23 hens and I'm still getting about 18-20 eggs per day.

I have 2 small coops. I have a heat lamp in each one with a 250 watt bulb. Our temps have only been in the 20's during the day lately, so you might want to use a smaller bulb for yours.

I also give them warm water 2x a day and put their food and water inside the coop. They don't even want to come outside as long as the food is inside. I can't say I blame them!

My book says that they need a minimum of 14 hrs. of light per day. So when we get less than 14 hrs. of daylight it is time to supplement. Before it got really cold, I used 60 watt bulbs in student lamps that clamp onto things. That way they got enough light without too much heat. Good luck!

-- Denise (, December 18, 2000.

Our temp. never got over 10 degrees that past few days and I am still getting 28-32 eggs from 35 hens. I keep a 100 watt bulb over the feed, which I keep in the coop (actually they are in the barn with a large run to the outside and a big wired-in box stall with roosts and nesting boxes built into it). We feed half scratch and half good quality laying mash, goats milk when I have it, and warm water twice a day. I also throw them a flake of good quality alfalfa hay once a day and table scraps. I am wondering if they are free ranging if you might just have critters helping themselves to the eggs. It happened with us when we free ranged, which is why our are penned right now. Come spring we will free range that last few hours in the evening.

-- Diane Green (, December 18, 2000.

My 10 hens all stopped laying in Mid-November. At first I didn't think much of it because they do that occasionally, and some of them were molting, a little. I had my light on and still nothing. By the second week of Dec I was really thinking they had stopped all together and I would have to get new ones, but this past weekend I went in to clean the coop and there were 6 eggs, the next day 8! We are back on track,I think. Just wait and see.

-- Jennifer Schwabauer (, December 18, 2000.

Diane's warm water idea is a good one if you can do it. When I am home on the weekends I have been doing that and they seem to drink more water if it's warm.

To address the other part of your post, you might need to keep them in their coop and yard and not let them free range for a week or so to get them back in the habit of using the nest boxes.

-- Doreen (, December 20, 2000.

All the info here seems "right on". The added light will help to bring production up some, but here in WNY i've never found the "heat thing too practical. The cost of 24/7 climate control in even a small coop is impractical at best. besides we're fighting their instinct to not raise young when weather and natural food sources are prohibitive.I have found supplemental lighting ,as required, will raise production back up about 25 %, rarely any more. The instinctual thing goes a long way to explaining their not using the boxes as well, I have one hen that simply gathers all the eggs for me this time of year and sets them, the others could seemingly not care less, another reason I like her so.Anyway, good luck and happy holidays!!

-- dan b. (, December 21, 2000.

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