Help! Chickens Won't Initiate Egg Laying....

Palo Cedro, CA(Zone 8a)

Lena & Maizie's farm needs a bit of advice.
We have raised White Leghorns and Rhode Island Reds before and never had a problem getting them to lay as soon as they were mature.
This year I raised Austrolops (sp?) for the first time.
It got hot early this year and as soon as they were mature they started to moult.
They never started to lay.
This is also the first time I have raised hens without a rooster.
I also have half grown Golden Wyndots (sp) and Rhode Island Reds.
I have not put "seed" eggs in the boxes.
They have been getting lay crumbles, but more produce, greens, etc. this summer.
Anyone have any ideas for me?

Lena's Boneless Chicken Farm -
Anyone ever see that Far Side joke about the "boneless chicken farm"?

Hempstead, TX(Zone 8b)

how old are they. over 6mos? can they be laying elsewhere? do they have oyster shell? if it was winter i would say not enough lighting but we have long daylight hours now. in winter i use a light that comes on about 5:am.
if you don't have any other layers i would use the seed egg to give them the idea.

Baker City, OR(Zone 5b)

It could be that they are not getting enough protein, in other words, too many goodies. Most pullets will start laying at about 4 months old, maybe a bit more for heavier breeds. Changing diet will throw them into a moult, and they use whatever protein is available to grow new feathers, then eggs should come next. In winter you may need to add extra lighting so they have 14-16 hrs a day. In the summer natural lighting is enough. No rooster is needed for hens to make eggs. I have a coffee mug with that Boneless Chicken Ranch cartoon on it. The first time I saw it was posted here a couple of years ago.

Palo Cedro, CA(Zone 8a)

Thank you MaryE and Farmgirl! The chickens are over 6 months old and they do get osyster shell, but I think they are eating far too much produce, etc. and not enough lay crumble (protein). I will ween them off all the garden produce, etc. I recently put little pastic eggs in, they just pushed them out of the nest as they were too light. guess I'll have to make them heavier. ha ha ha
This is a first for me. All my other chickens in years past always couldn't wait to lay and many would lay year'round.
Thanks again.

Lena & Maizie

Stockton, MO(Zone 6b)

Wow. I've never experienced your problem before. I've always raised Rhode Island Reds or some other heavy, brown egg layer. They usually start laying at about 5 months, very tiny eggs at first and then getting progressively larger.
I wouldn't wean them off all the garden produce, that stuff is really good for them. Just cut them back a bit. Is there no way that they have hidden nests somewhere?

Palo Cedro, CA(Zone 8a)

Well, they use to free range (before they ate all my mom's flowers a month ago - she and I live across the driveway from one another) Anyway, they could have laid then. but I never saw egg-1. Now, there is really no place for them to lay, but I wil keep that in mind and keep out a watchful eye.

Thanks so much. Yep, I've never encountered this problem before either. The little turkeys usually lay continuously.

Hempstead, TX(Zone 8b)

could be the heat too. i know out of 50 hens i am only getting about 20 a day and that is a good day.

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

Maybe you need to put up some posters of stewing hens lol. Ernie

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

wow just ran on this looking for something else I am a thread killer sheesh.This is one of my girls.who appears to not lay eggs. I am getting 14 to 15 eggs a day from 17 hens unless I let them out to much. Now I keep them in untill about two hours from dark.

Anyway to stop a hen from wanting to set this one sets and I dont think she lays. Thanks Ernie

This message was edited Feb 25, 2008 6:36 PM

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Corpus Christi, TX(Zone 9a)

Hi Ernie,

You might want to take a look here: It's the Poultry and Livestock forum. Much more active than this thread ;-)

If your getting 14-15 eggs a day from 14 hens that is pretty darn good! I don't usually get an egg a day from everyone. For 14 hens I would expect to get 10-12 eggs a day. With the amount of eggs you are getting I would say your broody hen is still laying. Is she an Orpington? I have trouble with my Orps going broody. I don't know how to make it stop. I take her out daily and put her in the dirt box so she can dust bathe and I sprinkle scratch around to encourage her to eat and get our of the nest box. She will stay out for a little while but then back she goes. All my hens like one nest box so they will go in and literally lay an egg on top of her and then she moves the eggs under her.

Maybe someone else on the poultry board will know how to discourage a hen from going broody.


Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

oops it is 17 hens not 14 I edited it above sorr and yes a Buff Orphington and she pecks and fluffs up.

londonderry, Australia

sounds like she is broody you should get some fertile eggs under her so you can get some babies

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Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

Good idea but I have too many chickens now want a brood hen ha ha she's young and pretty. Ernie

Corpus Christi, TX(Zone 9a)

LOL, I have my own 'young and pretty' broody hen! Mine and yours look like they could be sisters. You know what some people would call her? ....dinner.


Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

Laura no way I am eating one of my girls she is safe here lol. Ernie

Corpus Christi, TX(Zone 9a)

yeah, we wouldn't either. Our girls are so sweet and have such personality. My kids would have a fit too!

I ordered big ol' dumb cornish Xs for meat.


Easton, KS(Zone 5b)

Heh. I only have 4 hens (so far) and a rooster, and until Helga went broody, I was getting 4 eggs a day - more than I can use, really, but I have another 25 pullets ordered so I'll have enough eggs to sell some.

Helga is sitting on so many eggs that I can't imagine she can hatch them all - the other hens (and one guinea) like to go in the same nest box and they lay right next to her, and unless I get out there fast, she pulls the eggs under her.

I saw her out in the yard the other day, and I thought that maybe she was done with being broody, but I checked the nest box, and my Rock Barred hen, Pebbles, was keeping the eggs warm for Helga. I didn't realize that they helped each other out like that!!! LOL!

Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

Do you have marks on the eggs you are letting her keep so you don't end up either getting way more or getting confused and getting a half hatched egg omlett?

Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)

Nothing worse than hearing a peep peep just before hitting the grease!! If you don't mark 'em that is what will happen. I never had it happen to me, but as a child my daddy was making breakfast for us. One at the time we were telling him how we wanted our eggs.

My brother's turn came up and dad dumped out a little chick into the skillet.

None of us ate eggs for quite some time after that incident.

My little sister had gathered the eggs the evening before and didn't notice that the egg was marked.

Daddy wanted to spank her, but we were all crying so hard he just couldn't do it. He was pretty strict about that kind of thing and beleive me none of ever needed to be reminded to check the eggs to see if they were marked again.

Easton, KS(Zone 5b)

How long do the chickens stay broody? Until something hatches?

Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)

After all of the eggs have hatched that are viable, she will become the mama hen to beat all mamas. The little chicks will be under her wing in a split second with one certain sound from her. The mama will still stay on the nest at night, but the chicks will be under her. She won't resume laying for a little while during her mother hen period.

She will whip any chicken in the yard that messes with her babies. She will pretty much do all that is needed to raise her babies. Her broodiness will be ended, but she will be very busy for a while.

I had a banty once that got so upset when I moved her eggs to what I thought was a better place for them. She threw a fit, I mean a real fit. She wouldn't sit on the eggs anymore. After a day or so we couldn't find her. She stayed gone for about a month. We thought a predator had gotten her.

We had pretty much forgotten about her when one day she came out from beneath the chicken house with about 6 little biddies that were at least a week old. So, I guess they pretty much know how to take care of business.

Easton, KS(Zone 5b)

Charlene, your banty story is awesome! I can't wait to see how Helga is as a mama!

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

Ernie, i was just reading about that tonight.. Of course, i wish my hens had gone broody, but...

"suspend a wire cage from the ceiling & put the broody hen in it. 24 hours of swingin & no food or wtaer will break the broodiness." ...Jan Stromberg

see ya in the poultry forum!


Everson, WA(Zone 8a)

TF thanks nice to see you again. Ernie

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Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

BIG SMILE... beautiful corn and sunfflowers. double rainbow is nice too!

Weslaco, TX(Zone 9b)

I have a story for y'all. Many yrs. ago when I was living in Michigan on a 20 acre farm, I decided to raise a few geese & some chickens. I can't remember the name of the chickens,but they were black & very big. I had so many eggs I had to sell them. There is nothing better than a fresh egg or 2 in the morning,as you will probably agree. I had a very broody hen. She would sit on rocks & try to hatch them.LOL I decided to let her sit on 3 fertile goose eggs. In due time 3 little geese hatched & she became a mother from hell. No one could get near her babies.not even the other geese. As those geese grew she never left there side.They followed her around like she was a mother goose. Rain or shine they were always together. Eventually they outgrew her & I decided it was time to put the geese in the fenced yard with the other geese. Now that fencewas 8ft. high. That hen was frantic for her babies,who were already 2 ft taller than she was. Well she wasn't going to be separated from her babies. I wouldn't open the gate for her so she went over the 8 ft. fence. What a sight that was. Once she got in there she rounded up her 3 babies & herded them into a corner away from the rest of the geese. How she knew which ones were hers,as there was a lot of geese the same size,I'll never know & it remains a mystery to this very day.

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)


Sue, RI(Zone 6a)

Lol! Love the story mommie!

Sue ☺

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