There are certain health issues that can cause a hen to stop laying but these birds are alert and healthy. They might just be spent as far as egg production. If that's the case, I'm afraid they're headed for the freezer this fall. That's the way it is with livestock that's raised for food. These are not pet chickens. We coddle them and take good care of them and enjoy their little chicken personalities ...but they are still livestock raised for food. If they are no longer able to provide eggs, they will provide meat.
We knew this would happen eventually but were not expecting it until next summer. Yeoldfurt and I were both a little disappointed to only get about eighteen months worth of egg production from the Production Reds. So we decided to try another breed and bought four Barred Plymouth Rock chicks from a different source this year. We lost one of the new chicks to a snake in the chicken coop last week and I think one of the remaining three is a rooster. We will keep the rooster for a while and try our hand at raising some chicks ourselves and the two new pullets should begin laying by August or September. But we may not have any eggs to sell between now and then since we are only getting six to seven eggs per week now.
Yesterday I got a lead on a guy that has chicks available for a reasonable price so we'll go check him out next Saturday. The chicks are cross-breeds (Rhode Island Red x Americana) and should lay muliticolored eggs when they're mature ...green, blue, white and lighter shades of brown. He has some young Rhode Island Red hens that are ready to start laying but those are little more expensive. I'm not sure what we'll come home with but it's always nice to have a new source.
In the meantime, the one hen that is still laying has apparently put her stamp of approval on the new nest boxes Yeoldfurt built yesterday. She laid an egg in one of the compartments today ...good girl, Red!!
The old 'nest boxes' were five-gallon buckets laid on their sides on a raised shelf about six inches above the ground. Two of the snakes we've killed in the coop this year were in one of the buckets when we caught them so Yeoldfurt decided to build nest boxes and set them much higher off the ground. This is what he built for them.
We wondered if they would need a perch in front of the compartments but apparently not since I found Red's egg in one of the boxes this morning. There's a lot of work to keeping livestock, even if it's only chickens. Seems like there is constantly some repair or improvement project that needs to be done. So it's always nice when your efforts are appreciated.