Farming forum: Flock stopped laying

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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Mar 9, 2015 9:53 AM CST
My neighbor came to me with a question. For years he has kept chickens for eggs and meat. He currently has about 20 chickens and a rooster. Five days ago the entire flock suddenly stopped laying. He was getting about 11 eggs per day (more or less) and suddenly zero; today is Monday and not a single egg since Wednesday.

He keeps the chickens in a large fenced area with one guard dog during the day. I'm pretty sure the dog is penned at night as I don't hear him bark after dark. The chickens are in a raised 'house' at night to keep them safe. He said there has been no change to the food he gives them. We get our water from a common well. There is supplemental lighting. Weather here in Savannah, Georgia - the days have started getting longer and warmer, trees are budding, flowers blooming, fresh green growth everywhere.

I'm certainly no chicken expert but he wants me to at least keep an eye and an ear on things while he is at work. No problem doing that. If it's a two-legged predator I'll let him know and he will install a game camera to catch the thief. But perhaps it's something that is frightening the girls like a wild animal (cat/fox/raccoon/owl;hawk,etc.) or snakes?

Please, can anyone offer some suggestions? Thank You!
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Mar 9, 2015 10:18 AM CST
When I repaired/remodeled their side of the barn one summer most of my girls quit laying or hid their eggs in protest for a couple of weeks. Could they be pouting over some recent change? We have all of the predators you mention, and, although they occasionally steal eggs or even a hen or two, the girls have never quit laying as a result. There are a couple of diseases that will cause the hens to stop laying. Has your neighbor seen any signs of illness?
Porkpal
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Mar 9, 2015 12:56 PM CST
He mentioned no sign of illness.
He was thinking that there is a possibility that someone or something is pestering/upsetting the birds while he is not at home during the day.

When he gets home from work I will ask if he has done any repairs/remodeling or signs of illness.
Thanks.

Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Mar 9, 2015 5:15 PM CST
There are lots of things that like to eat eggs, Skunks love them. Of course the dog would take care of the skunks I'm thinking. They could have just gone into a molt. They will stop laying then to put energy into new feathers, but that ususally happens in the fall here. Another possibility is that they have started eating their own eggs. That can be a big issue, if they start doing that. Do you know how old these hens are? They may just have burned out, that wouldn't have happened all at once though. Have you had a recent streach of very cold weather? They will drop production when they need energy to make body heat. They whould start back again a few days after the weather gets warmer if that's the case. It will be interesting to see what happens. Keep us posted.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Mar 9, 2015 10:22 PM CST
I spent most of the day keeping my eyes and ears peeled in case there were people or animals nearby. I never had to guard chickens before; this is tiring. Rolling on the floor laughing

About two - three weeks ago there were men cutting down trees nearby and I would have thought that activity would alarm the chickens but no, they were fine with that.

Our weather has been getting warm lately. We had one day with daytime temps of 80° F...maybe they got too hot too quickly?? Shrug!

He is pretty experienced at keeping chickens; he said this is the first time he had a whole flock stop laying at one time. He keeps the birds rotated (is that the right word?) because he mostly grows them for meat; he incubates the fertilized eggs, so I don't think any of them have a chance to get 'too old'. I am wondering if he recently culled one of the girl's favorite birds and they are mad at the loss. Shrug!

I wonder if the guard do will let me get close enough to take photos? Whistling


Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Mar 10, 2015 9:20 AM CST
Yes, pictures. We would love to see pictures.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Mar 10, 2015 11:09 PM CST
No pictures yet (I'm afraid of upsetting the watch dog!)

I gave my neighbor a bag of crushed oyster shells to feed to the chickens. Today he got 3 eggs. Well, at least it's a start. Hopefully the whole thing was weather-related and once the weather settles down the girls will be back in production.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"

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