This is a great site! Just found it. Can anyone give me info on how to get my hens to start laying? I have black sexlings, one year old (bought chicks last spring) they quit laying about 4 months ago, only have 5 with 1 rooster. Hope some of them will sit a nest this spring, but they have to have some eggs to do that. Just bummed that I am buying layer pellets but getting no eggs.
Thanks for any suggestions.
First, it's winter and chicks cut back on laying in the winter.
Second, do you have extra light for them? They need at least 14 hours of light to continue to lay. I have mine on 24/7 because I also have my heat lamp hooked up to the same outlet. Some people put their lights on a timer to save on electricity. And I still am not getting the total number of eggs I will get in the spring and summer.
Three, are any of your hens broody? If they are, they will not lay then.
Hope this answers some of your questions about why your hens are not laying.
BTW, I have 35 hens and yesterday I only got 6 eggs. But, we had a severe storm the day before and that affects them too.
My 'girls' went on vacation from late September through mid January. I tried extra rations, more light, electrolytes in the water - plus threats about the price of their feed, lol. Since January, I'm getting more and more eggs so I'm guessing their Poultry Union was just enforcing the terms of their contract *grin*
I do give my girls a high protein layer crumble and ensure that they get a lot of water plus a heat lamp when temps are brutal (like now). Today I got a dozen eggs from 24 hens. And some of mine are EEs who are finicky. They have a mind of their own though.
Okay, Catherine, DH just went out and got 18 eggs today. We had a bad, bad storm yesterday with freezing rain and then rain on top of our foot of snow that's on the ground. Now we have snow again, and it's going to mess them up again tomorrow. So, I guess with only 5 hens, it's easy to see that busybirdtn might not get eggs right now.
As you said, EEs are finicky. Mine are Australorps, so we do get a few more eggs than others would *hopefully.*
Hey I had my hens stop laying and a friend tell me to put some cat food on top of the layer crumbles, and so i did and a week later with 4 hens i was getting 3-4 eggs a day and since have backed off cat food and still get at least 3 a day! also heard 14 hrs of light so i put a heat lamp in with them but it was in for 30-45 days, with no eggs! I believe it was the high protein in the cat food! In winter they need more protein to sustain themselves so the stop laying. Crazy idea but i tried it and i do believe it helped me! GOOD LUCK!
I think your question has mostly already been answered .. but I'll just add this ... I'm assuming you want high egg production because you're selling the eggs? Then the additional lights will solve your problem .. and you will also need to provide a bit more protein because NO birds in nature are meant to lay eggs day after day without a break. (Don't know if you are birdwatchers or not, but think about it ... when do birds build new nests and lay eggs? Spring, as the days are getting longer ... more light.) Chickens are no different .. typically, if left alone, they lay most in spring and summer, with less production toward the fall when they will go into a moult ... (losing old feathers and growing new replacements) .. they rest over winter & start the cycle all over in the spring. Roosters have no part in it ... you don't need a rooster to have your hens lay. They accomplish this all by themselves ... and the roosters do nothing but annoy them. The only reason you would need a rooster is if you do want to have fertile eggs for hatching. Most breeds of chickens which are geared for egg production have had their "broodiness" (wanting to set and hatch eggs) bred out of them. Your heavier dual purpose chickens (meat and egg producers) are your best bet if you do want them to set.
I'm surprised so few eggs are layed in the winter months. I am getting 3-5 eggs a day (every day) from my 5 hens. We have a basic 60 watt bulb that comes in for an hour or two before the sun comes up...and then in the evening until we get home to close them in.
Ok, here's what we found out just recently. We had lowered our ratio of layer mash to cracked corn when we were getting too many eggs to sell. (That sometimes happens). When we upped the layer mash, our hens started laying everyday again. So, it is the protein content of the food that helps them produce eggs. I have never tried cat food, but might give them turkey grower to help with the protein.
As to the lights, since we get so cold here, the extra light helps keep the temperature up in the henhouse along with the water heater. It is also a way to tell if the heat lamp is working properly as we have a window which lets the light shine out and we don't have to go out to check. We have found that they need at least 14 hours of light a day to lay properly. Right now, we are getting an average 20 - 24 eggs a day from 30 hens.
But, I am watching to see if any of them are going broody. If so, I might let them set. I guess spring is coming. We just had our second visit from Peppy LePeu tonite. It walked through the yard and whoo boy, what a stench. I actually had to change the duster I was wearing when I opened the door. I didn't see him, but checked with the power flashlight to make sure it wasn't anywhere's around. Don't want any of them around here.
Oh .. I hate it when the skunks come round here .. I'm always afraid when I go out after dark that I'll accidentally run into one, stumble over it & get sprayed ! Haven't had any visits lately, but they'll be back as the weather warms.
When i was in college, at Brandeis in MA, we had probably 20 skunks who lived on our small campus. It was a little oasis in the big city for them. I always lived in fear that I would accidentally, and totally soberly ( ahem) stumble upon one in the night! They were pretty used to people. But, every once in a while there was a telltale smell that someone had gotten too close! We even had a totally white one!
Well, thinking back to how strong the odor was, I am thinking that it may have been startled by the deer that were in the yard eating their corn, because it sure was strong. Other than that, I haven't a clue.
There's no such thing as free eggs. By forcing the hens to lay through the winter with articial light, they'll stop laying at an earlier age. Commercial egg producers don't care because they replace the laying hens at a young age anyway. If you're like me and want your hens to live to a ripe old age, the artificial lights aren't a good idea.
If you want to have a heat lamp without providing artificial light I think a red bulb will solve that problem.