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Why aren’t my young hens laying?

December 13th, 2011 at 22:34

Question
I was wondering if you’d have any idea why the hen has stopped laying eggs. Have bout 10 hens and have them bout 8months or so but only 1 chicken was laying eggs but now she has stopped. The chickens are belonging to my brother and he’s not sure what breed they are because they bought at market and are novices at this, but are dark black/grey colour. They have 5 hens and 3 rooster in the same pen and 1 of the roosters is a silkie. They are bout 8 months old cause they bought them last May/June time.

As far as they know only 1 hen was laying and then this week when they went to cook some eggs his wife says that there was one of the eggs which she reackons should have been a chick cause the smell from it when she cracked it was rotten. Claire

 

Answer
It sounds like your brother’s chickens might be just a little too young to start laying, given the timings. Egg laying is very dependent on the time of year, and sometimes young chickens born mid-summer don’t start laying until the days start getting lighter again. I would think that they should start some time over the next month.

The lack of eggs from the one who was laying is probably down to her being a young bird who is just coming into lay. She should start up again soon enough.

Putting a fake egg in the laying box can sometimes give young chickens a bit of encouragement and also teach them the right place to lay so your brother might like to try this.

Alternatively, it could be that the diet they are on is not suited for egg laying. Whilst chickens can quite happily survive on corn and kitchen scraps, this is not the ideal diet for them. I’d recommend checking that your brother is feeding them layers’ mash or layers’ pellets ad lib, and only giving treats like corn later in the day, once they have had their fill of healthy food.

I would also ask your brother to make sure they have poultry grit available to them. This will help them to make eggs with strong shells.

Lastly, as a matter of their general health, they should be wormed regularly. Some wormers are monthly, whilst others are longer – it should say on the bottle either way.

Pretty much the only reason for an egg smelling rotten when broken is that it hasn’t been collected quickly enough. Eggs should be collected every day. Even fertilised eggs will keep for a good few weeks, as long as no chicken has been sitting on it. This is because the embryo will not progress unless it is kept at a constant warm temperature.

As a friendly word of advice, please also mention to your brother that unless he separates those cockerels who are currently living in the same pen, there will be blood come Spring. Whilst they may be getting along fine at the moment, they will become much more aggressive with each other as soon as it starts to warm up. One of our cockerels lost an eye due to an attack by another cockerel on the very first day of Spring but he could easily have died.

I’m sure the laying situation will sort itself out. As long as they have a good diet and are healthy, patience is all that is needed!

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