While homesteading can be a fun and rewarding experience, it like many other things comes with its challenges. Our most recent challenge (or should I say, mystery) is our chickens have ALL stopped laying eggs. With 10 chickens you would think we would get at least one egg a day! We are currently on our last dozen of eggs and I’m dreading paying $5, much less anything, for more eggs. My husband and I have been scratching our heads and hemming and hawing, trying to understand what could possible be happening. After ruling out a few theories we believe we have finally come to a conclusion. Unfortunately, it’s not a solution.
Our first guess as to why we weren’t getting any eggs was that something else might be getting to eggs first. We have already had issues with snakes and rats eating our eggs. The only difference this time is there is no evidence of any eggs ever being laid. The rats would normally try to eat the egg right out of the nesting box, leaving shell pieces and raw egg behind. The snake would typically leave some eggs behind and we found it was actually living inside the coop. This lead us to our next thought. Maybe they aren’t laying in their nesting boxes anymore. Several times we have found eggs hiding in the tall grass. We have ruled that one out by searching high and low with no luck. Unless the Easter Bunny is hoarding them.
Another possibility we thought, might be inadequate nutrition. Don’t worry, we aren’t neglecting or mistreating our chickens. We had recently decided to cut back on their grain feed to encourage them to forage for bugs and munch on plants. The space we have provided them is flush with weeds, wild flowers, and other plants. After much research, we found that pasture raised chickens are healthier and produce better, heartier eggs. It is possible that with our recent cutback it might have thrown them off. The only issue with this conclusion is we increased their grain to try to rule that. Obviously we haven’t seen any change.
Our last thought was that molting and a decrease in daylight may be the reason for our lack of eggs. Fall definitely came early this year and we started seeing more and more feathers on the ground. We thought for a while that the rooster and the male guinea might be picking on the girls, but we never saw any marks or blood on the chickens. A cold front came in about the same time we noticed we weren’t getting any eggs. There was rain for several days and very little sunlight. When chickens molt they are not able to lay eggs at the same time. Their bodies are restoring their plumage (feathers) and rejuvenating their reproductive systems. After the molting period is over the chickens should lay more productively. Unfortunately for us, the molting period lasts several weeks. I guess now it’s time to ask around for fresh eggs!
One thing I love about the homesteading life, is the opportunity to learn something new just outside your door. Between the chickens, goats, and the baby, we are constantly problem solving, trying to maintain a more simple and healthy lifestyle. I appreciate you taking the time to learn with us and I hope to see you again soon!