Some advice please - reluctant leghorn

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Some advice please - reluctant leghorn
« on: May 15, 2011, 08:37 »
I have had my latest flock about 8 months now from POL and the White Leghorn soon established herself as top girl. She started laying within about 3 weeks of arriving and was very prolific layer - 1 a day.
Then about 3 - 4 weeks ago - when the hot weather was at it's best, I found she had laid a shell-less egg. That was the last time she laid.
She also started behaving strangely from about that period.

At night she refused to sleep inside the coop with the others, she preferred to sleep up on the roof of the coop in the open air (it is fully en-caged in fox proof fencing), and now at the end of the day she is very reluctant to go into the compound at night. She will follow the others down the path and then stop a few yards before the entrance, even the scratch that I give them at night does not encourage her in.

At first I thought this was all down to the hot weather, but now it is back to normal seasonal temperatures, I have checked them all for signs of red mite but cannot see anything. She looks healthy, she seems to integrate with all the others out in the garden during the day. All the others are laying well.

How long do you think the period of laying dormancy could last for?

I ask because I got rid of my last flock because they all stopped laying after 18 months. Whilst I did not destroy them, I gave them to a friend who keeps dozens of chickens and he claimed that within a month they all started laying again - although he has a cockerel he keeps with them.

I am concerned I am doing something that seems to foreshorten their laying life with me. Whilst I like keeping them, they do have to earn their keep.

They have plenty of feed (layer pellets) and water.

John 
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Re: Some advice please - reluctant leghorn
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2011, 08:47 »
UPDATE

Soon after posting this, I went down to check the coop and discovered a shell-less egg in one of the nesting boxes and the leghorn has egg yolk on her side, so I am pretty certain it was hers.
If this is a period of laying dormancy, is this normal time span and soft shells both into the period and out?
She has not been moulting either.

John

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Re: Some advice please - reluctant leghorn
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2011, 09:29 »
Hello John

As I understand it many hens lay softies every now and then.  It can make them feel under the weather.  Once they have laid it they can go back to their normal laying routine.  I experienced this with one of my bantams, a silkie cross LS.

Sometimes the egg can burst inside the hen and this can cause egg yolk peritonitis so it may be a good idea to check her vent and make sure that nothing is left inside.  You can also try giving her a warm bath.  This can help her relax and expel anything.  Egg yolk peritonitis does not have a good prognosis.

You could also check the house for redmite.  Redmite do not stay on the hens.  You need to take a piece of white paper and silde it into the cracks and joints in your hen house.  If it comes out with red stains then redmite have been feeding.  However, if the other hens have been going in with no problem I would think that redmite is unlikely.

I am not that expert but from what I understand pure breed hens can go through cycles of laying then have a rest period.  The shell-less egg could be her laying mechanism starting up again. 
11 bantams (and counting!) 2 dogs 1 cat

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Re: Some advice please - reluctant leghorn
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2011, 09:43 »
I agree check for red mites - if there is a good colony feeding on your girls they will be reluctant to go into the coop and their egg laying will be affected.
Staffies are softer than you think.



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