I’m afraid many of my chickens have actually gone into a molt, or a winter lay-off because of the stress of the evacuation.
We first got them home on September 29th. None were laying. Within a week, 6 hens started laying (out of 15 total). Because of egg differences I am able to tell exactly which ones are laying. The ones laying are Salt (unknown bantam cross from the Ragamuffin Hen group), Goldie (Buff Orp), 2 Barred Rocks, Bindi (Easter Egger), and Ruby (RIR). And their comb colors are confirming that as well. It has been almost two weeks since those girls started laying, so 3 weeks total of being home, and no others have started. All of them are completely settled in and happy to be home, no signs of anymore stress. All the non-laying hens have light pink combs and are showing no signs of even considering getting back into the nesting box anytime soon. 😦
We think with the shorter days, and cold weather, what started out as a stress shut-down, has transitioned into a full-blown winter shut-down. This is such a bummer as I have egg customers and the hens usually earn their keep, and then some, for us. Now it looks like it will be at least a few months before they get going again.
The only good news is that the Brahmas should start laying Nov/Dec, so that should add 7 actively laying hens to our flock. But we are not sure exactly when to expect the Brahmas to start since they are a heavy breed and we have heard that heavies start later than average. However, we did see the rooster breed the Buff Brahma a few days ago. The last time he was living with the adolescent hens he started breeding them about 3 weeks before they started laying. So we hope this is an indication that at least the Buff is getting close to starting.
I guess we just need to focus on being thankful that we are getting enough eggs for our own use, at least we don’t have to buy them at the store.
Does anyone have any experience with chickens stopping laying because of stress? How long does it usually take for them to get back up and running again? Is this likely more than just stress now?