Allotment Gardening Advice Help Chat

Poultry and Pets => Poultry FAQs and other Information => Topic started by: Casey76 on August 30, 2010, 11:20

Title: Hens stopped laying?
Post by: Casey76 on August 30, 2010, 11:20
OK, your seemingly regularly egg-producing hens have stopped laying; there can be many reasons for this:

1) First of all, hens are not machines, if they miss a day or two, who cares?

2) It takes on average 25-26 hours from start to finish to produce an egg, if your hen stops laying, you need to look back at least one day before the last normal egg to find the stressor.

3) Stressors can include (list not exhaustive)
In most cases remedying the situation is simple
, in others you just have to wait it out.

4) Problems with the "egg laying mechanics"  Ex-battery hens seem to be particularly prone to internal laying (leading to egg yolk peritonitis - EYP).  This is where once the mature yolk detaches from the immature yolks it misses the oviduct and is, in essence, layed in the internal cavity of the hen.  Hens with EYP tend to get a distended abdomen (between their legs) which feels fluidy.  EYP is not confined to ex-batts, and both hybrids and pure-breeds can also develop EYP.  Once a hen starts laying internally there is little one can do to stop it.  If it remains sterile, hens usually go about their normal business, but never lay again.  If it becomes infected, it will lead to demise very quickly.

5) Egg binding can also be a problem, especially if a hen is trying to lay a particularly large egg.  Egg bound hens will look pretty miserable, and will often stand in a corner, puffed up, with head pulled in, and tail down.  Upon palpation the egg may be felt as a hard mass - be very gently doing this, even with external palpation as you may break the egg - and that can complicate the issue a lot.  Bring the hen into the house and sit her in a warm bath - believe it or not, even the most flight birds seen to enjoy a warm bath, and will almost certainly relax - for approximately 30 - 40 minutes.  this helps to relax the muscles, and you may find she will lay her egg even in the water.  After about 40 minutes, you can left her out, and gently pat her dry with towels, then blow dry (on a cool/warm setting - not hot). to finish her off.  Put her in a clean box (a cat carrier is ideal) with clean bedding, and put her somewhere dark and warm and draft free.  We are doing all of this to help her relax.  If after 24 hours she still hasn't layed, a trip to the vet may be in order.

6) Taking a break - most breeds, even hybrids, will take a break from laying during the winter as the number of hours of daylight decreased.  Some stop laying from their moult right through to spring, some will take a few days off, and some will lay throughout winter, but not as often.

Eggs take a lot of protein to produce, so in times of moult, any protein the hens eat goes into feather production rather than egg production.  You can help out your hens by feeding a diet a little higher in protein than normal.  The easiest way to do this is to feed chick crumb (18 - 21% protein) or growers pellets (approx 18% protein).  Or, you can add crushed soy beans (a little at a time), or feed a few meal worms.  If you choose to, you could also try beef cat or kitten food (wet).

The addition of a poultry tonic (e.g. Poultry Spice) to the food can also be helpful at this time.

Remember that there are exceptions to every rule, and your Black Rock (which generally lay approximately 280 eggs a year) may ever only lay 100 eggs a year!

Remember also that, like a human female, a hen is born with a finite number of yolks, and the faster and more often she lays, the sooner she will deplete the yolks and come to the end of her laying life.

So, in short, if your hen stops laying... don't panic!  Give her a check over for ilness or unwanted passengers, but basically, be patient :D