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    • CommentAuthorklb
    • CommentTimeJul 4th, 2011 9:07am (Jul 4th 2011)
     
    My three girls have not layed eggs since the winter. They are 2 years old. They used to lay every day, without fail, even through the winter of 2009, they didn't stop. Last winter was of course colder and longer, so I wasn't really surprised when they eventually stopped laying. Now, occasionally there is an egg withoiut shell, and where they always kept their coop reasonably clean, now they don't seem to care, and I have to give it a good cleanout every day. I dare say there are more shell-less eggs than I have actually seen, as I beleive they are eating them, sometimes before I get to see them. They are mainly free range, but they dont seem to want the pellets although they are put out for them, and cannot get them to eat grit, so they are just having what they find on the ground. Is it worms? and is there a cure for this. I put cider vinegar in their water, but they avoid it most of the time, and just drink from the other water sorces..I am at a loss really. They are of course great pets, and hope that I do not have to destroy them. Please advise me. Regards, Katie:face-sad:
    •  
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeJul 4th, 2011 5:00pm (Jul 4th 2011)
     
    Even if they stop laying, why destroy them? I'm menopausal and my husband hasn't had me put down. Yet.
    • CommentAuthorklb
    • CommentTimeJul 4th, 2011 5:04pm (Jul 4th 2011) edited
     
    Posted By: chief chickenEven if they stop laying, why destroy them? I'm menopausal and my husband hasn't had me put down. Yet.


    Posted By: chief chickenEven if they stop laying, why destroy them? I'm menopausal and my husband hasn't had me put down. Yet.
    • CommentAuthorklb
    • CommentTimeJul 4th, 2011 5:05pm (Jul 4th 2011)
     
    No No No. I don't want to destry them. My question is, is there a possibility they have got worms, and if they have how can that be treated??:face-plain:
    •  
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeJul 4th, 2011 9:33pm (Jul 4th 2011)
     
    Um, well there's something called Flubenvet which is for worms; I've just ordered some for mine, so can't tell you if it works for ordinary worms, but i'm sure red or Neil will be able to tell you more. The other thing you could do is put 'Flubenvet' in the search facility at the top of this page, ticking the 'comments' box as I don't think there's a thread dedicated to it.
    •  
      CommentAuthorneil
    • CommentTimeJul 4th, 2011 9:44pm (Jul 4th 2011)
     

    Keeper of the hens

    If you have an agricultural store they will sell various louse and worming treatments.

    Otherwise, your best option is a trip to the vets - check they are hen-knowledgeable first!

    Hens need the necessary protein and nutrients (which your layers pellets contain), and 12+ hours of daylight (this is why they stop in winter).

    Some parasites and pests can affect them, red mites and worms would probably cause less eggs (and red mite can cause aneamia in bad infestations).

    Check the hens and their feathers for red mite and lice etc. Then check the poos to see if you can see any worms, alive or dead!

    I'd have expected your hens to be laying by now - especially with the soft eggs - hens often lay these as they come into or finish laying for the year.

    It might be worth getting a vet to check over the hens just to make sure it's nothing too serious.
    •  
      CommentAuthorneil
    • CommentTimeJul 4th, 2011 9:50pm (Jul 4th 2011)
     

    Keeper of the hens

    We've used Flubenvet a few times, it's a bit of a pain to dose as it's for large flocks, but you can divide the dose for smaller numbers.
    •  
      CommentAuthorKateb
    • CommentTimeJul 4th, 2011 10:00pm (Jul 4th 2011)
     
    The difference, CC, is that there is still hope that Katie's hens will start producing eggs again, whereas there's no hope for you!!! :rolling:

    You'd better hope LSE (CC's hubby Katie - long suffering Eric) doesn't see this thread!

    I've never had hens so can't comment other than to say to take Neil's advice about finding a vet that is knowledgeable about chickens. I used to have rats and even though the vet SAYS they know what they're doing, they often don't, so if you are not happy with their treatment seek a 2nd opinion.
    •  
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeJul 5th, 2011 2:53pm (Jul 5th 2011)
     
    Posted By: KatebThe difference, CC, is that there is still hope that Katie's hens will start producing eggs again, whereas there's no hope for you

    I can get some from Sainsbury's...:tooth:
    •  
      CommentAuthorRed
    • CommentTimeJul 5th, 2011 3:17pm (Jul 5th 2011) edited
     

    Keeper of the hens

    Hey Katie, :welcome: to the forum!

    First things first, pleeease don't 'destroy' your girls because of lack of eggs - I know you've already said you won't, just want to make sure! :001_tongue: As you said yourself they are great pets, and contrary to most other pets like dogs or cats, they also give (or have given) you eggs in return!

    Hmm, I was wondering, are they a healthy weight? Just because you said they have no interest in their pellets or their water - are you certain they are eating and drinking? What are their poops like (try having a look at the link below)? When you feel their breast bone, is it sharp and jutting out, or is it nicely covered by a layer of fat?
    http://www.chat.allotment.org.uk/index.php?topic=17568.0

    Secondly, what breeds are they and what do you feed them? You mentioned you feed them pellets, which I'm guessing are Layers Pellets? If so that will provide your girls with all the nutrients they need. You may want to mix grit and either crushed egg shells or oyster shells into their feed with them, to help with digestion and extra calcium. High calcium treats such as cottage cheese, grated cheese and plain yoghurt might help too.

    How are they acting in themselves? Are they active, happy?

    Like my dad said, check their poops for worms and the coop and feathers for mites. Indicators of mites are clusters of white around the bases of your girl's feathers (mite / lice eggs), usually the feathers near the vent, or any signs of parasites scuttling on your chickens' skin. You can also run your fingers under the perches in the area your girls sleep; if your fingers come away bloody that's a sign of mites.

    To treat mites, lice and internal parasites you can use Diatomaceous Earth (see link below). You can dust this in the areas they sleep and dust bathe, dust their feathers with it, and even mix a little in with their food. However I would still use a worming product with them too, such as Flubenvet.
    https://www.omlet.co.uk/shop/shop.php?cat=Chicken+Keeping&sub=Chicken+Health&product_id=230&product_name=Diatomaceous+Earth+-+100g&gadid=VvfGh86Uic85E5V8W9CpQuHdlwoIiLta/5OVWtsrjF0%3D&gclid=CNHj6ZKx6qkCFZRX4QodDliCWA

    You said they are laying shell less eggs...these usually indicate young pullets, or the beginning or end of a laying cycle. However they can be caused by lack of nutrients and calcium too. I would check you're feeding them a good quality all-inclusive food, and perhaps add water to it to see if you can encourage them to eat it as a mash. Also try feeding plain yoghurt as a treat; it's good for a number of reasons.

    Also are you sure your hens aren't laying eggs and eating them before you find them, or that they're laying them in an area you're not aware because they're free-range? Eggs tend to be laid early afternoon, so if you see any of your girls going to the nest box at that time, race to the garden and have a check!

    Just to parrot everybody else yet again, a vet visit might be a good idea just to rule out any serious conditions. You want a vet who has as much experience with chickens as possibles (a lot of vets are worse than useless with chickens and it's pointless seeing them, so ask around!). Sometimes 'farm vets' are the best option.
    Hope this helps and good luck with your girls! :)
    •  
      CommentAuthorRed
    • CommentTimeJul 5th, 2011 3:27pm (Jul 5th 2011)
     

    Keeper of the hens

    That was a really long and rambly post, sorry Kate! I hope it all makes sense.
    • CommentAuthorLynnW
    • CommentTimeJul 5th, 2011 7:52pm (Jul 5th 2011)
     
    I've found the fastest way to control soft shelled eggs is to add oyster shell to their feed, not just grit. Diatomaceous Earth is wonderful for keeping your mite problems under control..I sprinkle it everywhere they take dust baths..mix it in with their food too, it's great stuff.
    • CommentAuthorklb
    • CommentTimeJul 6th, 2011 8:43am (Jul 6th 2011)
     
    Thank you all for your comments. I will read them all again, and certainly take advice from them. The girls seem all to be in good condition. They also seem to be a good weight. They are Black Rocks. Their combs are red, maybe not quite as vivid as they should be. I do sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth in their coop. I do think that they are eating the eggs, as much as we have tried to find where they have been laying, we havent as yet found the place! It is Layers Pellets that I feed them, and they do drink water, lots of it, but if I add cider vinegar to it, even the smallest dash of it, they will ignore it and find the other sorce that is elsewhere in the pen.The are clever little misses, I can tell you. I will take on board what has been said above, and try and get back later in the day. Thank you all once again. Katie:face-smile:
    •  
      CommentAuthorneil
    • CommentTimeJul 6th, 2011 10:39am (Jul 6th 2011)
     

    Keeper of the hens

    Ahh that's another possibility...

    If your girls are free-ranging, they could have had problems at the nest box (maybe the boss not letting the other girls in to lay), so they've found a nice secluded spot in your garden...

    I know people who've come across clutches of eggs when doing gardening, hens are creatures of habit so if they find a 'good' spot to lay they like to return their again!

    Or like you say, they could be eating the eggs - but you'd expect some tell-tale signs such as bits of shell, yolk dried on to chest feathers etc...

    Is your nest box dark? It should be complete darkness really as the hens like it that way, plus then they can't see the eggs to eat them!

    If yours isn't dark enough, try fastening black material along the entrance to the nest box, cut into strips and fastened on the top of the entryway, it allows the hens through, but keeps it nice and dark in there.

    Let us know how you get on!
    •  
      CommentAuthorneil
    • CommentTimeJul 6th, 2011 10:44am (Jul 6th 2011)
     

    Keeper of the hens

    Forgot to say, it sounds like you are doing everything you can (and more!) to care for you chooks, so apologies if some of our suggestions are a bit basic or "trying to teach your grandmother to suck eggs" - we like to start at the basics and work up from there! :)
    •  
      CommentAuthorRed
    • CommentTimeJul 6th, 2011 10:47am (Jul 6th 2011)
     

    Keeper of the hens

    I'd give everywhere an extra bit of DE, just to be on the safe side...especially if their combs have turned slightly paler.
    Good luck with everything, keep us informed :)
    •  
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeJul 6th, 2011 6:31pm (Jul 6th 2011)
     
    Where do you buy DE from?
    •  
      CommentAuthorRed
    • CommentTimeJul 6th, 2011 6:33pm (Jul 6th 2011)
     

    Keeper of the hens

    You can buy it online (the Omlet website sells it, I'll attach the link if that would help) but I'm pretty sure my dad bought DE from a farm shop, in a huge sack. It's just over a fiver from Omlet:

    https://www.omlet.co.uk/shop/shop.php?cat=Chicken+Keeping&sub=Chicken+Health&product_id=230&product_name=Diatomaceous+Earth+-+100g&gadid=VvfGh86Uic85E5V8W9CpQuHdlwoIiLta/5OVWtsrjF0%3D&gclid=CNHj6ZKx6qkCFZRX4QodDliCWA
    •  
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeJul 6th, 2011 6:47pm (Jul 6th 2011)
     
    Just ordered some! Ta, Red!
    •  
      CommentAuthorRed
    • CommentTimeJul 7th, 2011 1:16pm (Jul 7th 2011)
     

    Keeper of the hens

    No probs :) I'm not sure how much value for money that is, but it'll do until you can buy it in bulk. You'd have to ask my dad how much he paid though; we bought a huge sack years and years ago and it's still almost full!
    •  
      CommentAuthorneil
    • CommentTimeJul 7th, 2011 3:19pm (Jul 7th 2011)
     

    Keeper of the hens

    I've been horrified by the price of the smaller quantities of DE. I can't remember how much it cost (got it years ago), but it worked out a hell of a lot less than what Omlet sell it for... (mind you, they're hardly known for their cheapness full stop are they!)

    To be fair though, you don't actually need to use much - it's the tiny particles that puncture the mites etc, so you don't need huge clumps of the stuff in the coop for it to be effective - I would have thought the tiniest of dustings every so often would be enough to protect the nest boxes and where the hens sleep.

    It slightly scares me because if you have the wrong stuff (and I'm not 100% sure what is the wrong stuff!) it can cause serious (and I mean serious) problems if you breathe the dust in... like as bad as asbestos type thing (causing emphysema etc), which isn't good.

    Although I'm sure the usual stuff you can buy is food-grade which is ok (I think) - still not a good idea to breathe the dust in though, CC especially with your asthma.

    There aren't any huge warnings on my DE so I'm hoping it's the 'safe' stuff, but it always scares me when I use it, and I try very hard not to breathe in the dust.

    I think the 'dodgy' stuff is most often used in swimming-pool filters, but I wouldn't put it past the realms of possibility that this could also be sold for domestic/animal use.
    •  
      CommentAuthorchief chicken
    • CommentTimeJul 7th, 2011 5:53pm (Jul 7th 2011)
     
    Don't slag Omlet off -0 I've just emued them to say they ought to have you as a source under 'where did you hear about us?' on their order form! :D
    •  
      CommentAuthorneil
    • CommentTimeJul 8th, 2011 1:11pm (Jul 8th 2011)
     

    Keeper of the hens

    Heh, can't see it happening, same as when BHWT wouldn't even consider giving us a link, even though we link to them!