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My hens are molting -- will they start laying again?

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  • My hens are molting -- will they start laying again?

    So my chickies are 17 months old and have been laying really well, but BAM! Last week every single one of them started molting, and there's been ONE egg since then between the four of them.

    Feathers everywhere! They seem fine, eating OK. Do they usually start laying again after molting? Or are they largely "done"? If the egg production is not expected to pick up again, I've got to think of what to do with them over the winter . . .
    Click here before you buy.

  • #2
    Our 6 hens used to greatly decrease their egg production during molting and during the winter months. Then, each spring we would have many eggs. After they got old, their production was never what it was in their first couple of years, but was still enough to provide us plenty of eggs.


    • #3
      They'll be fine. If you aren't queazy about it, you can feed them some cat food to help them get through it faster. It doesn't matter whether it's dry or wet. The high protein is what makes a difference.
      "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer


      • Original Poster

        Queasy I am not. They get all kinds of meat, but don't really care for cat food. Good idea about a little dietary boost, though--feathers are all protein, so growing a new set is probably hard work!
        Click here before you buy.


        • #5
          Hens here used to get cottage cheese during moult....not practical if you don't have your own milk cow, however, unless you can get stale dated for almost nothing. The cheese would be made into a mash with grain run throught a hammer mill and the whey provided the liquid.
          Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

          Member: Incredible Invisbles


          • #6
            Most hens pass their laying peak after their first molt and many producers will get rid of them then. They will still lay as they get older but larger eggs and less frequently.


            • Original Poster

              larger eggs and less frequently
              That would actually be perfect. Thanks, all. Cottage cheese for everyone! I've given it to them before, they go WILD for it.
              Click here before you buy.


              • #8
                Yoghurt is also a good choice. I fear for my safety when I enter the run with yoghurt in hand.
                "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer


                • #9
                  BTW, a pat on the back for giving the omnivores meat, many won't.
                  "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer


                  • #10
                    Ours are on year two. We feed cat food, actually not on purpose so much, they just check out the cat's dish. IIRC they molted very late in the season and quit laying till about April, then picked up right where they left off, one egg each just about every day. We have six hens, you can count on two dozen in five days. We piled straw bales against the sides of the chicken tractor and they overwintered there (remember, here in KY, six inches is a serious snowfall) just fine. I do remember getting a little impatient for them to start laying again, at least till I discovered they'd found a good nest spot and obviously been laying there for a while.
                    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                    Incredible Invisible


                    • Original Poster

                      The only thing I can't quite bring myself to feed them is . . . chicken. Otherwise, unless it's going to potentially make my eggs taste weird, they get it. And since I'm Italian and use a LOT of garlic and hot peppers, leftovers are not always chicken-suitable. I'm trying to think of stuff I've thrown in there that they wouldn't eat, and drawing a blank . . .
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                      • #12
                        DW do yours eat those styrofoam packing peanuts? Because mine thnk they are chicken crack and I have to be ever vigilant bagging them up. And I have no clue what goes into the compost heap, I know dead rabbits and parts go in there and the hens busily dig everything up, we're always having to rake the pile back together and it isn't composting too well. I'm sure they've eaten chicken parts as well if they were in there, little cannibals, LOL!
                        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                        Incredible Invisible


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ReSomething View Post
                          DW do yours eat those styrofoam packing peanuts? Because mine thnk they are chicken crack and I have to be ever vigilant bagging them up. And I have no clue what goes into the compost heap, I know dead rabbits and parts go in there and the hens busily dig everything up, we're always having to rake the pile back together and it isn't composting too well. I'm sure they've eaten chicken parts as well if they were in there, little cannibals, LOL!
                          mine will tear into a chicken carcass with gusto! They even stole a beef bone from my dog....

                          They also have gone on strike..... we are almost out of eggs and DH was worried we might actually have to BUY some.....
                          Turn off the computer and go ride!


                          • Original Poster

                            I'm not sure a styrofoam peanut has ever been in the vicinity of my barn, so can't say how the chickens would feel about them. Seriously? You don't mean the "biodegradable" ones, which are sort of like cornstarch--actual STYROFOAM? Unbelievable--garbage bins with feet.

                            They get the dead mousies and voles that the cats bring home. (yum!) They are currently busily eating a couple of butternut squashes that got removed from the vine before they were ripe. Actually the colt and the pony like those, too, and play football with them.

                            I'm sure mine would wreak havoc on the compost/manure pile, but they're too stoopid for free range and we have LOTS of hawks and other varmints that would love to eat them. OK, let me amend that. They're no stupider than any other chickens, but there are WAY too many predators for me to be happy free-ranging them. Maybe the next flock.
                            Click here before you buy.


                            • #15
                              BYC Lore says after the first moult you will get more & better eggs.
                              Members also report hens laying well into their 7th or 8th year - although not daily.
                              I am counting on this to be right.

                              Right now I am down to 2-3 eggs per day. Slacker hens

                              One just got off a 3mo Broody Binge then a full-blown moult.
                              She has her feathers back (out & back in amazingly fast!) but has not started laying again

                              Another is moulting more slowly than #1 did & looks like Heck, so she is not laying either.

                              I tell the remaining 3 they need to pick up the pace or I will introduce them to The Colonel & his Bucket.

                              My little chicks are just 1mo now so I can't count on them until next Spring.

                              As I am now an Egg Snob this is all very disheartening to me.
                              *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                              Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                              Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                              Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015