There is a bit more…

So I’m back from a quick run to take DD to work and DS has helped me to get lots of watering going in both the front and back yards. I can begin to now declare that it feels more like summertime is coming since we can start being out in the yard more.

DS took time to scrub out these guys’ water fountains again and we topped off their food. Meanwhile, we collected two more eggs which brings us to four so far today. Oh yes, after showing some pictures, I think I’d better explain why the numbers are important right now.

Our sweet gold sexlink rooster, and three of the thirteen hens

Our sweet gold sexlink rooster, and three of the thirteen hens

The white silkie bantam rooster, three buff orpingtons, and one black sexlink hen

The white silkie bantam rooster, three buff orpingtons, and one black sexlink hen

At least this astralorp hen is trying to do her part!

At least this astralorp hen is trying to do her part!

So here’s the dilemma: Approximately six weeks ago all thirteen hens completed their winter molting and for two weeks they laid 9-12 eggs per day. Even though the nights were in the upper 20s and lower 30s, they continued to lay well and we thought we would have plenty of eggs again. Then suddenly, it was like a faucet shut off and for the last four weeks we have been getting 2-6 eggs per day with most days being 4 eggs. Two weeks ago I changed brands of feed to the more expensive brand to see if that would help because we had used this same feed a couple of years ago. Result: absolutely NO change in numbers and they continued to eat the same amount. They have been getting fatter  but not laying any more eggs. We have two water fountains for them and a feeder that we keep food in all the time. They have been getting the same scraps (bread and salad bits) in the same amounts the entire time. After talking to GPID via text about this because he used to raise chickens commercially and ruling out all of the possible reasons, we are now all puzzled. There are no snakes snitching eggs, there are no birds eating eggs (we haven’t found partials or egg shells anywhere), there are no coons around and we always shut the hens up before a coon would come out for the night, and there is no other access to the chicken coop except via the door that we latch every night. The fence around the yard is at least 6 feet and then we have the fence inside that around their pen. While a coon or such could climb the fence and get in, I don’t think anyone else could easily get in without us knowing. And we’ve not seen evidence of either so we just have this big mystery.

Only time will tell if it was just what chickens do, as we do have 3-4 of the hens that are reaching 3-year-old status, or if it is more. They are healthy and all, just not producing any significant numbers of eggs. It is challenging to keep up with all the eggs the neighbor who buys from Mike likes to buy and we aren’t getting any of our own. Very frustrating numbers for our 13 hens. May have to consider “retiring” them and “hiring” younger hens towards the end of June/first part of July. Keep checking back and I’ll try to let you know what happens.


About susanssnippets

I wear multiple hats: wife of 25+ years, mother to DD22 and DS17, daughter/daughter-in-law, crafter, home engineer and too many others to list.
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3 Responses to There is a bit more…

  1. claire93 says:

    did you get all your thirteen hens at the same time? I’m new to hen-keeping so can’t help, but it does seem strange that they’ve all stopped laying (more or less) at the same time. Surely, the fact that you have different breeds means they don’t all age the same. I’ll be interested to see if things improve.

    • The thirteen hens were raised from chicks over the last three summers. Our first year we purchased a couple of Rhode Island Reds, Plymouth Barred Rock, one Astralorp, two buff Orpingtons, and two Black Sexlinks. The Astralorp was supposed to be a Barred Rock and the Plymouth Barred Rocks ended up being a mean rooster that we got rid of. The Rhode Island reds turned out to not be real good layers and didn’t make it past two summers. One buff made it but the other one died in the fall of the second year. We have cold winters (and yes, we use heat lamps in the coop) and we had a really hot summer stretch the second year that took the reds. We still have the Astralorp, the buff Orpington, and the two black Sexlinks from that first year. The second year we added 4 more Astralorps (one ended up being a rooster), one Gold Sexlink rooster (then they threw in another one extra that didn’t make it longer than 1 week), and three Gold Sexlink pullets. The Astralorp rooster had a deformed foot from the very first and made it into the fall of that year and then we found him one morning in the coop when DS let them out, flat out on his back with his feet in the air. He was gone which made us sad because he was really nice. This last year (the third year) we purchased three Buff Orpingtons pullets because we really liked the one we still had and we also took a risk and purchased three white Silkie bantams. We were hoping that the Silkies would sit on eggs. Unfortunately, the three Silkies turned out to be roosters, one of which we still have. The other two fought all the time and were bloody on their head and neck despite separating them from the rest of the flock so they were gotten rid of. We have chosen to mix our breeds so that hopefully they don’t age and/or molt at the same time and we can still keep getting a decent number of eggs, so this has really left us puzzled. I do know that at least one of the three-year-olds is laying one egg every other day because her eggs are a lighter color each year and she is the only one laying a slightly thinner shell than the rest. So our current flock is: Hens) 4 black Astralorps, 4 buff Orpingtons, 2 black Sexlinks, 3 gold Sexlinks; Roosters) 1 gold Sexlink, 1 white Silkie.

  2. claire93 says:

    that’s even stranger then. You’ve been adding “new blood” to the flock so they can’t all have reached retirement. It doesn’t sound like your extreme climate is making life easier either.

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