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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alright... my hens are going on a year old now and despite the fact they were laying up to 19 eggs a day in the dead of winter they are now laying about 8. Four birds have gone broody - so I guess they're not laying for the time being but I can't really figure out the rest. I was wondering if the fact they're in a soft molt has anything to do with this? (Soft molt in parrot terms means when the humidity is too high and the bird takes FOREVER to go through a molt - it's been raining almost nonstop here and their molt has lasted probably three months now and is still going strong.)

Is there something I should be doing to help support them nutritionally during their molt? Is this what is causing the egg decrease? Or are they being divas and just showing me they disapprove of my recent removal of their rooster? (He was beating them up pretty hard - couldn't justify his continued existence.)

Or maybe they're eating the eggs again.... though I haven't found any evidence of this as of late. Tempted to post a camera to see for sure...

Any ideas?
 

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A lot of times when hens are molting, the egg production will go down. This is normal behavior, so I wouldn't worry about it. Not much you can really do (that I know of) to help them during their time of molting. It's just a fact of chicken life. :)
 

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You might also check their bodies for parasites. Lots of rain seems to be a good condition for mites/lice. When birds are sloughing feathers and can't dust because of wet ground, sometimes it's ripe conditions for parasites. If in large enough numbers, they can slow egg production because nutrients are being depleted.

During this spring molt, egg shells thin a little and this can cause breakage in the nest and the resulting cleaning of the nest by hens. If you find yolk residue on any remaining eggs, this could indicate this is going on.

This too shall pass...also, birds that have laid all winter didn't get their normal reproductive rest and need it eventually.

I'd just feed what you feed, check for parasites under a light at night to insure no one is getting bled dry, and give it time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
No parasites, been using Diatomaceous Earth but I did catch one of the Orpingtons red handed, er red beaked, with a crushed egg dangling from her mouth. SIGH. If they really are just resting up I have no issues with that.... if they're eating them out of spite it's another story. I find it suspicious the Orpingtons, who are in the best shape featherwise, are also the ones whose eggs are lacking (all my rocks have pink eggs and they're still going strong! Whereas my brahmas are either broody or going through a massive unending molt and the Orpingtons I suspect are all cannibals. Very few tan eggs going 'round.)
 

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They don't eat them out of spite but they do eat them if they've been damaged in the nest, which is probable since you've been having thin shells. Since Orps are big gals, they are likely crushing eggs as they get on and off the nest. It happens and they aren't going to be "egg eaters", so never fear.

I too have found the BOs from hatchery source to be the biggest eaters with the least laying, so I no longer include them in flocks. First at the feeders, last at the nests. ;)
 
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