Win a copy of Coppice Agroforestry this week in the Woodland forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • paul wheaton
  • Leigh Tate
stewards:
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • Mike Haasl
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • Beau Davidson
  • Nancy Reading
  • Jay Angler
gardeners:
  • L. Johnson
  • thomas rubino
  • S Rogers

Chickens Refuse to Roost

 
Posts: 220
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
16
cooking writing ungarbage
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was down to one laying hen and although only a few years old she stopped laying. I had noticed for sometime she wasn't roosting but sitting on the hay around the roost. She is a big Leghorn. I bought two young laying hens and they layed for a few weeks then they stopped. I noticed they started following the Leghorn's pattern of jus sleeping/roosting on the hay instead of a roost. How can I get all of them to roost again so I can have fresh eggs?  The coop is big and the laying nest are on the outside but they can get in from inside the coop. I was thinking of making a huge roost so they have no room to lay on the hay but how can they get to the nesting boxes with this in front of it? I tried putting them on the roost at night when they're more docile but they just jump off.

A6E83333-3B1F-483D-BF84-5ADE22037116.jpeg
[Thumbnail for A6E83333-3B1F-483D-BF84-5ADE22037116.jpeg]
 
master gardener
Posts: 7792
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
3721
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Have you checked your birds and the coop for lice or mites?
How is the birds weight?
 
Susan Boyce
Posts: 220
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
16
cooking writing ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
No lice or anything else Have never had those kind of issues the coop is cleaned out everyday etc.  I had this problem with another hen years ago, when they don't roost the placement to create and lay an egg is offset, if they sit flat,so the key is to get them all to roost again and I don't know how to achieve this.
 
gardener
Posts: 828
Location: Central Indiana, zone 6a, clay loam
575
forest garden fungi foraging trees urban chicken medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What kind of perch do you have for them to roost on? Perhaps it isn't comfortable for them for some reason? Maybe they're cold and sleeping on the floor to stay warmer? A perch that is wide enough for them to be able to have their feet spread out flat so they can cover their feet with their bodies and feathers seems to help mine stay cozy. I use a 2x4 with the 4 inch side being what they roost on and it works quite well.

My hens had a bout of not wanting to get on their roost. I found that if I want to place them on there and have them stay, it needs to be quite dark already when I do it. If they could still see, they'd jump. Either waiting later or using a curtain to reduce the light level made it possible for me to set them on there and not have them leap right off. Another thought...is it possible that due to orientation of the coop windows, by the time the outside light fades enough to signal them to go in, it's already too dark inside for them to see to jump up on their roost?
 
Susan Boyce
Posts: 220
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
16
cooking writing ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
They roost on a round dowel,  like the kind we hang our clothes on. It sits on 2x 6 that goes across the width of one side of the coop. I have a tree branch with the same diameter of the dowel, and they never use it. It's on the opposite side of the coop from the other one.
I have used this same set up for years before I had these current hens and never had a laying issue like this before. The big Lehorn is really sweet but clumsy and has a  bit of a limp from falling off the ramp a year or so ago. I think she might feel more comfortable sitting on the hay, but I really don't know. The thing is she has basically taught the other hens to follow her lead. They all go to the coop to roost before dark so they can still see pretty good.
 
Susan Boyce
Posts: 220
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
16
cooking writing ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just went out and put two of the hens on the roost, one stepped down and the other stepped off after I closed the door. I don't know if I should make a bunch of roosts so they'll have no choice but to roost. Maybe have two pieces and remove one during the day so they can get to the nesting boxes….
I just hope they start laying again.
 
pioneer
Posts: 38
Location: Warrnambool Australia
31
2
homeschooling kids tiny house chicken bike fiber arts bee sheep writing wood heat homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm not sure that the hens roosting in the hay would affect egg production unless they've gone clucky -- but then they would be staying there during the day as well. If that picture of your hen house is recent, my money would be on them moulting or not having enough sunlight during the day to trigger the egg production :) We don't get snow where I am and the days don't get too short, but the girls still like to have a break over winter. I've had hens that prefer to roost down in the hay as well, and they've been my most prolific egg layers, didn't stop them one bit.

As for your older Leghorn, all chickens are born with the same amount of eggs as they'll ever lay in their body. The breeds that lay every day (sometimes even twice a day!) go through this supply much faster than the older heritage breeds that will keep laying longer in life, which is why the big chicken factories will often get rid of hens or have rescue hens that are only a couple years old. If it's just a recent thing with her stopping laying then it could be just winter too, or if it's been going on for a while then she may be finished! Hope that helps :)
 
Susan Boyce
Posts: 220
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
16
cooking writing ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I thank you for the reply but I'm still confused as why they aren't laying now. as I said before I have used the same set up for years now. The two newer hens I bought laid fine until a few weeks in, then nothing. None of them are moulting right now and they can get in and out of the coop from an open door and they spend all daylight hours outside in the sun.   Boy I wish I could figure this out. I feel like I have 3 pet hens but zero eggs doesn't cut it with me. I even stopped giving them well water and now give them triple filtered water.
 
Sage Chara
pioneer
Posts: 38
Location: Warrnambool Australia
31
2
homeschooling kids tiny house chicken bike fiber arts bee sheep writing wood heat homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
No worries! How many daylight hours are there where you are? A quick Google search tells me anything less than 14-16 hours of daylight and they can go off the lay. We've had the same thing, bringing in new young hens and they lay for a little bit, then decide to have a nice long break over Winter and into Spring. Temperature might also have something to do with it? You can artificially create the right environment for them (have a light come on in their coop earlier in the morning etc), but we just let them do their thing. The other thing to look at I suppose would be their feed, and if they were laying with one type of feed before you bought them but feed change now they're not...I'm not sure a mineral deficiency or the like would appear that fast though!
 
Susan Boyce
Posts: 220
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
16
cooking writing ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Right now we are getting 11 1/2 hours of daylight, when I bought them we were getting less daylight but they were still laying eggs, and they were kept in dark coop no outside access because chickens were jumping the fence at their old place. They were eating the same feed as I have too. Their environment has improved by being here so I just can't figure this out….
 
pollinator
Posts: 390
Location: Virginia
150
books chicken cooking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Is there any chance you have an egg eater? I had one in the past who was very efficient and eat all trace of the shell. They can teach this to other birds.

As far as not roosting, about 8 of my hens don’t want to roost.  Doesn’t effect their laying as 15 out of 19 laid eggs today.

Hope you figure things out!
 
pollinator
Posts: 144
Location: Northern California
22
dog tiny house greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Maybe predators are eating your eggs? Are you able to check for eggs several times a day, or just once in the evening?
 
Susan Boyce
Posts: 220
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
16
cooking writing ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
No they don't even go back in the coop to try to lay now. It's so depressing and a huge puzzle for me. I have hens that ate eggs in the past but this time it's not the problem….
 
Susan Boyce
Posts: 220
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
16
cooking writing ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I had blue jays getting in there a few years ago but they never ate the whole egg they poked one hole in the egg and left so I never used those eggs I gave them to my little dog instead. No jays around for awhile and I spend a lot of time outside.
 
Heather Sharpe
gardener
Posts: 828
Location: Central Indiana, zone 6a, clay loam
575
forest garden fungi foraging trees urban chicken medical herbs ungarbage
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Susan Boyce wrote:The big Lehorn is really sweet but clumsy and has a  bit of a limp from falling off the ramp a year or so ago. I think she might feel more comfortable sitting on the hay, but I really don't know. The thing is she has basically taught the other hens to follow her lead.


I wonder if the injury makes it hard for her to get up to the roost. Perhaps create a couple levels of roost so she can sort of ladder up there? I'd bet that the younger ones might follow her.

I hear that you have had the same set up and not had this issue before. Chickens are individuals though, so what kept some laying might not work for these new hens. They might just need a winter break from laying, I think that's fairly normal for a lot of breeds. Or maybe there is something stressing them out, thereby putting them off laying? A predator lurking about at night, a low level illness, some kind of squabble between them, or just plain cold stress. Maybe you could try giving them more protein and/or fat. Staying warm and still laying eggs is a lot of work! Extra protein might help give them the energy to do it.
 
Author
Posts: 80
27
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'd cull that old lady hen. Chickens after 2.5 years go waaaaay down in production. Plus, she's setting a bad example for your younger ones.

However, them not roosting on a perch isn't a big deal and that's not affecting their egg production. Heck, Joel Salatin doesn't even provide perches for his winter greenhouse flock.

The old lady's age is affecting her laying production so I'd go ahead and make a nice chicken soup.

Also, make sure you have deep bedding in that coop so that something is cathing their manure. If possible slat the bottom floor with 1" slats and have 1" openings between them so manure can fall through and they're not sitting in it. Then add wood shavings, wood chips, or leaves to that pile of nightly manure every day.

If possible get rid of the stationary coop and use a mobile coop with a floor where manure can easily fall through down to a deep bedding run. Then you can move the coop around.

There's a chance you can add deep bedding inside your coope= but only do that if you have enough space so you only have to clean it out once a year. Handling Chicken manure isn't a way to last very long as a Chicken Tender.



 
Susan Boyce
Posts: 220
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
16
cooking writing ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I nursed the big Leghorn and made a huge wide two tier ramp so she'd feel safe and it wouldn't give her pain. She limps without complaint, unless she runs.
 
Susan Boyce
Posts: 220
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
16
cooking writing ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I wanted to eat her brother he was huge at a very young age and he got overly aggressive but I ended up giving him away. She has hung out with me since a young bird and it would be difficult to just end it for her….maybe in time the hens will start laying again...
gift
 
Native Bee Guide by Crown Bees
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic