Episode 10 – In this episode we continue our discussion on reasons a hen stops laying and what you can do about it.
For the last eighteen days, we have been incubating our first batch of Light Sussex hatching eggs. We just moved them from the incubator to the hatcher, which means they should hatch in just three days! We have hatched many Rhode Island Red, Golden Laced Wyandotte, Barred Rock and Dotte Rock hybrids, but this is our first batch of Light Sussex.
Suzy is excited because she wants to see some cute yellow baby chicks. I am excited because I want to make the Light Sussex the foundation of our meat birds.
Meat Prices are Soaring [03:25]
According to the NY Post, prices of beef, pork, fish and chicken are going up fast. The article says beef is up 11% over the last year, but Suzy points out that locally, prices have gone up much more than that.
This is just another reason to buckle down and get going with our meat bird program.
You can read the NY Post article here.
Ten Reasons Hens Stop Laying – Part 2 [06:45]
Today we are continuing with Part 2 of Ten Reasons a Hen Stops Laying.
6. Aging [07:10]
Hens typically lay productively for two or three years and then slow down as they age. Each hen is an individual and some lay well for many years. Others decline gradually. Still others drop off rather dramatically.
You will need to think about what you will do when your hens’ production begins to decline. You could keep them as pets for the next five to seven years, or you may decide to introduce them to the pot.
If you live in an urban environment and are only allowed to have four backyard chickens, will you be happy to keep them (and feed them) for years while only receiving a few eggs a week? Or will you replace them with younger laying hens? That is a call only you can make.
7. Broodiness [10:13]
Broodiness is a hen’s desire to hatch her eggs. When a hen goes broody, she will stop laying eggs and spend all her time tending the clutch of eggs she desires to hatch.
Not only will a hen stop laying, but if she is sitting on the eggs of other hen’s, you may have to fight her to retrieve those eggs.
Many breeds have had the broodiness bred out of them over the years, but any hen could become broody.
The best way to avoid a hen going broody is to collect eggs often so they do not sit in the coop long. If you keep breeds that are known for their broodiness, you definitely don’t want to let eggs collect in the coop.
8. Stress [15:35]
Extreme heat or cold temperatures can stress a chicken to the point that the stop laying. Also dogs, children and predators can stress your flock.
9. Egg Eaters [18:30]
Technically speaking, your hens haven’t stopped laying. They are laying, but something is eating the eggs.
One of the culprits could be the chickens themselves. Once they get a taste for their eggs, it can be tough to break them of the habit. One way is to take an egg, poke a pinhole in each end, and blow the egg contents out. Fill the egg with yellow mustard and put it back in their coop. Chickens hate yellow mustard, and hopefully they will be discouraged from eating any more eggs.
Mice, rats and snakes can also steal your chickens eggs. Again, collect your eggs often to get them before a predator can. Also, give your coop a good inspection and try to plug up and holes that mice, rats or snakes could use to get into the coop.
10. Egg Hiders [22:03]
Free ranging hens can sometimes decide they would rather lay their eggs someplace outside of the nesting box you provided.
You may need to do a chicken stakeout to see if the hens have a secret stash of eggs somewhere. If you find that they are hiding their eggs, lock them up in their coop for several days or more to try to ‘reprogram’ them that they are to use the nesting box in their coop.