Um....a chicken question : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

At the risk of getting flamed crosseyed, I would like to point out that the last 22 posts do not have a single farming or gardening question. I don't want to go back and get slapped around by the heathens over at Countryside,either, but if we are just going to discuss giant social issues, health tragedy, and news/politics, I think I may have to take my chances. I care about all these other issues just like anybody else, but first, last, and in between I'm interested in FARMING (or if that is too big a word, well then GARDENING ON A REAL BIG SCALE). My chickens need more pens, my hogs want more vegetables, and those rows of plants out there won't weed themselves--I can't just forget about it and watch news all day.

Granted, it IS the End of the World, but I still think farming is as good a way as any to wait for it.

So as a public service to the original intent of this forum, let me ask this official, bonafide, CHICKEN question:

I've got two pens with 7 or 8 hens and a rooster in each that were split from the same batch of Pheasant Rock chicks. The chickens in each pen are the same age, eat the same food, have the same kind of egg box on the back of each pen, and get moved the same amount.

In one pen the hens have laid 5 or 6 eggs a day for the last two weeks. In the other pen, the hens laid 1 egg a week ago and not another on before or since. I've tried taking out one of the roosters(there were two to begin with), putting a fake egg in the egg box, putting more bedding in the egg box, stopped pulling the pen each day for several days, and fed them twice as much laying mash. An old lady suggested I make some cornbread with pepper and feed it to them; I went her one better and fed them two plant fulls of cowhorn peppers for three straight days. They loved the peppers, but they haven't laid one egg.

What in the world is going on? Do any of you (except Kathleen, who I am sure supposes I am torturing the chickens and therefore I don't DESERVE to have them lay) have any suggestions?

-- Rags (, November 02, 2001


Are the nest boxes dark? Are they getting equal light? How old are they? Any chance they might be thinking about molting?

Sorry about the lack of large scale gardening questions. There have been the exceedingly rare maintenance and how to questions! I'm more than sure you aren't torturing your hens...are you?;)....

-- Doreen (, November 02, 2001.

Rags, are you watching closely.....maybe you have an egg eater??

-- diane (, November 03, 2001.

Diane, that's a thought. But it already occurred to me and I have been watching them extra close. If they are eating eggs, they must be doing it awfully fast. And also, I read that egg eating is caused by calcium deficiency; these chickens get pulled daily around a small organic farm eating a variety of grasses, weeds, and bugs as well as daily scratch or layer pellets. The ones who do lay eggs, lay eggs with shells so thick they are hard to crack. So I don't think calcium deficiency is a possibility.

It's not like I'm hurting for the eggs; it's simply so puzzling how I can split up the same batch of chickens into two groups and one group starts laying like crazy and the other group stops up like a cork.

-- Rags (, November 03, 2001.

Rags, it sounds like the one group of chickens is jealous of the other and is showing it by withholding eggs. If you put the bunch together there production should even out.

It does not take much difference in day or sun light to interrupt egg production. Is one coop in the shade or the door and window facing anywhere but due south?

Egg eating is not neccessarily a calcium deficiency. Sometimes it just happens by accident and they find it is just yummy. My chickens are free range and get plenty of calcium, but I've had eggeaters in the bunch. I use a "time out" hutch to identify and cure the culprit. I also find out who is laying or not, too. Chickens are not real bright so if they go about 3 days without eating an egg they kinda forget that they eat them.

I feed my chickens peppers. I convinced my brother-in-law that if you feed peppers to chickens you get huevos rancheros.

-- Laura (, November 03, 2001.

NO, Rags, I don't think you are torturing your chickens! ;-)

Is it possible that you have a predator that is managing to get into one pen and eat the eggs?

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, November 03, 2001.

Rags...since we are neighbors, I can tell you the snakes are still out there with all this silly heat this week. My hens went from 7 eggs/day to 2eggs/day back to 7 in the last three day last week there were 6 eggs in the coop at noon and only two at dusk..since my hens do not eat eggs, I am blaming it on one of my Alabama fiends, the black, either you have one also, or one chicken tractor is getting more light than the other, etc. as already mentioned above..or, you have weird chickens hee hee hee...BTW, ask your sweetie pie wife to call me, or drop by early next week...God bless

-- lesley (, November 03, 2001.

Rags, I'll bet it wouldn't be too hard to get a government grant big enough to live on for a couple of years while you study this situation.

-- Barb Fischer (, November 03, 2001.

Hi Rags! I would seriously consider darkening the nest boxes. Chickens sometimes start the bad habbit of egg eating from stress. Maybe one chicken didn't take the seperation move so well. Once one starts, then you may get others. The golf ball in the nest is a good idea. It will give them a sense of purpose, yet if one pecks it nothing will happen. Yes, chickens can be fast at eating eggs. I had one with a bad habbit, dispite the fact I fed her a ton, gave her scraps, gave her oyster shell, etc. Maybe she didn't like any eggs that looked different than hers? Also, people like to leave a golf ball in the nest so the hens do not think that it is unsafe to leave eggs in the nest. (Why do my babies always disappear? Especially after a move to a new area?) Anyhows, it couldn't hurt.(If you have an egg eating snake it can fill up on golf balls and hopefully you can see where it spits them up, or maybe it will change it's mind about visiting that nest) :o) Maybe there is a place tucked away where they are laying. Can they get behind or under anything in their coop? Other than that... more frequent egg collections. Maybe you can seperate a few chickens at a time and find out if there is one going in and cleaning up after a hen lays. I hope they start to lay soon. I think the feeding peppers is good in cold weather as the chemicals in peppers warm the hen. If a hen is "warmed" she is more likely to lay. Is their setup the exact same as the other pen. Do they have more of a draft? less light? etc.? Hens with cold feet will quit laying, but I don't think it has gotten that cold yet. Hope something here may have helped you.

-- notnow (, November 03, 2001.

Thank you for all the ideas. Here's the latest info on the amazing non layers in Pen #7. Yesterday to test all of your egg eating chicken and snake eating egg ideas, in addition to the fake egg I put a real Pheasant Rock egg from another pen in the nest box. As of this afternoon that egg is still there: I've been checking that box four or five times a day; I think we can rule out egg eating and predators. Those Kuvasz walking around the pens all night probably make the predator possibility pretty unlikely.

Barb, thanks's for the government grant idea. Are you SURE the government gives grants to non minority, non homosexual, non handicapped, non illegal immigrant, non feminist,non atheist, Second Amendment defenders? Hell, even if they did start to give me the grant, as soon as they opened it up for public comment, Kathleen would write in and say I didn't DESERVE it. Thanks anyway Barb.

-- Rags (, November 04, 2001.

Hi! I have a question about your Pheasant Rocks. I got some chickens from a friend, and she said one of them was a Pheasant Rock. However, I cannot find any mention of this breed anywhere...other than in your question here on this site! Can you tell me which hatchery you got yours from, or if you know of any websites about them? I was starting to wonder if she meant to say Partridge Rock...but mine doesn't really look like the pictures I've seen of Partridge Rocks. Thanks much!

-- Jody (, December 08, 2002.

Dear Rags,I have had chickens all my life and I have found that a few laying problems will be the cause of the rooster believe it or not.Some roosters are not as aggressive as others are as far as breeding the hens and that stimulates egg laying.try swapping the roosters and see if the problem goes to the other pen if it does you might need to warm up the frying pan.Also if the roosters can see one another you might need to move the pens father away so thay can focous on the job at hand other than what they see in the other pen.

-- joey fields (, February 09, 2003.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ