Feeding chickens

Asked September 4, 2018, 10:57 AM EDT

My 4 hens dont eat layer crumbles or scratch grains. i use a butter tub to fill feeders and one butter tub will last them more than a week or two. They have constant access to a large 10x10 outside yard. 2-3 days a week I let them out to the pasture. They do get a few 'table' scraps of fruit, lettuce. I only get one egg a day from these 4- two year old R.I. red hens.( Six months ago I was getting 4 eggs a day-even thru the winter). What am I doing wrong or is it time to replace them?

Marion County Oregon

1 Response

There are two possibilities here. One is that they are not getting enough nutrition. What do you put in the butter tub? The other is that they are getting ready to molt. You may see more loose feathers than usual in the area. At 2 they should still be laying well. Because they have been laying for quite a while, I suspect they have depleted their stored reserves and need a vacation which they gain by reducing laying or even stopping laying altogether and dropping feathers. They use this time to rebuild their bodies and grow a new set of healthy feathers for the next round. My flock of ducks and chickens has also reduced production sharply. The birds react to the shortening day light which affects their pituitary gland. This process can take a few weeks or longer, depending on the individual and the breed. If I know just what you are feeding them, perhaps I can recommend something to make this recovery period a bit shorter.