Those in the chicken community know that when we own chickens our hens end up becoming a vital asset to our household. They are your source of fresh eggs that either hatch into baby chicks to help keep the cycle going or they turn into a delicious and nutritious breakfast. In some instances they may even become the main source of your income.
Your good egg layers are the queens of the backyard. Hens need to be kept healthy and happy for them to reliably lay eggs. Regardless of whether you are just a backyard chicken raiser or if you have a large-scale farm, part of your daily routine should be checking for and collecting your farm fresh eggs
With all the time and money that you have invested into your flock, you need to ensure that your chickens are continually producing. If your hens lay a good number of eggs on a regular basis, it’s a good sign that they’re happy and healthy. Now, if that laying stops, it can be alarming and upsetting. While it is a disturbing situation for chicken owners, the first thing you should do it try to figure out what is causing the issue so that it can be rectified as quickly as possible.
To help you with your quest, we’ve done our own research and have created this guide to help you figure out why your chicken has stopped laying eggs. These are a few of the most common reasons a hen may stop laying eggs.
If any of your reliable egg-layers in your flock get sick you will likely see a decrease in egg production. Chicken illnesses can come in all forms. These diseases can be due to parasites, stress, fowl cholera, fowl typhoid and a whole lot more. Just like humans, if these animals are exposed to viruses, bacteria, and other harmful elements in their environment, their body will not function properly.
The first thing you should do if your chickens suddenly stop laying eggs is check for worms and parasitic bugs, like mites and ticks. Parasites and foreign microorganisms need to be taken out of the picture as quickly as possible. If you find any indication that there are worms present in your chickens or their droppings you must start the deworming process to get your hens healthy, so they can get back to laying eggs again.
Altering your chicken’s diet and changing their feed can have an adverse effect on their overall health and what follows may be a decrease in the production of eggs.
Some breeders and owners don’t take too much time deciding on what to feed their flock. Some go by various advertisements they come across or what a friend might recommend. Making sure that your chickens are getting the best nutrition is not something that one can do by just throwing some random feed down and that’s it.
Their diet should be regulated and carefully considered. A chicken needs a certain amount of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and vitamins in order to be able to perform their best. Not giving an adequate amount of nutrition to your flock can bring on unnecessary illnesses. To prevent this make sure to always provide your flock with a varied diet that consists of plenty of greens, fruits, grains, worms, and grit. Giving them plenty of foraging time out in the run is a big help, too.
If you already do this and are still seeing a decrease in egg production you might consider seeking out advice from an avian veterinarian. They may recommend adding in some extra vitamins and nutrients to their water or food. They will also be able to help you figure out the easiest way to meet the nutritional requirements for your chickens.
For those who are not aware, sunlight is very important for egg production. It may actually be the most important factor for a hen laying eggs. If you’ve done research on hens laying eggs before you’ve probably come across sites that recommend putting lights inside the coop to keep hens laying.
This tactic is recommended because it will make your hens mistake that light for sunlight and it will tell their internal clock that it’s time to lay another egg. The light helps with the production of the hormones that are required for them to lay eggs.
Alternatively, if a chicken does not have enough light, it will stop laying altogether because its internal clock will be off. Chickens kept in the dark for too long will be stressed out, and we all know that a stressed hen won’t lay eggs. It’s important that your chickens have a sufficient amount of time out in the sun if you want them to produce eggs with any type of reliable frequency.
Hen Has Gone Broody
When a hen goes broody it means that she wants to hatch her eggs. That means when she lays an egg, she will sit on it for as long as it takes for that baby chicken to pop out of its shell. The only problem with that is she won’t continue to lay eggs while she’s broody. Broodiness can also be contagious, which means that other hens in your flock may decide that they want to be broody, too. Next thing you know none of them will be consistently laying eggs anymore.
If you want to maintain the same level of egg production you had before, you may need to snap your hens out of any idea of becoming broody. You can do this by making sure to remove her eggs from the nesting box as soon as she lays them before she’s even had time to consider going broody.
If she puts up a fuss and doesn’t let you take the eggs without a fight, just wait for her to leave the nest for some food and take them when she’s not looking. She may be a little upset when she comes back to find her nest empty, but after a little while she will get back to her old egg-laying self.
Another factor to consider regarding your chicken’s egg production is their breed. If the main goal for your chickens is to produce as many eggs as possible, you should really take their breed into consideration before anything else. There are hundreds of different chicken breeds out there and some are better at laying eggs than others.
If you’re just starting out, some breeds that are known to be excellent egg producers include the White Leghorn, Rhode Island Red, Golden Comet, Sussex, Plymouth Rock and others. You just need to do a little bit of research to find the best breed based on your specific needs and location. Our guide on which breeds to choose for egg laying is a good place to start!
Molting is an unavoidable event for a chicken. It is a natural process that begins happening annually once a chicken reaches somewhere between 15 to 18 months of age. Simply put, it involves their old feathers falling out and being replaced with new ones. Generally, during a molt which can last 2-3 months, chickens will not lay eggs.
Replacing feathers requires a lot of energy and as much nutrition as possible, so any reserves are dedicated to going towards feather growing and not laying eggs. There’s really not too much you can do to stop a chicken from molting, so you just have to kind of wait this period out.
Fortunately, it’s very easy to tell if your chicken is molting. If you’ve noticed that your hen has dropped a significant amount of feathers, you can be pretty sure that’s the cause for them to have stopped laying eggs.
Water is another essential element when it comes to a chicken’s diet. Water deprivation can have a major impact on a chicken’s overall health and especially the amount of eggs they lay. The entire flock needs to have access to fresh water at all times. Dirt, feathers, and chicken droppings will inevitably make their way into the water bowl, so it needs to be dumped and refilled daily.
Besides keeping them hydrated, water also helps keep their digestive tract in good order. It helps move the nutrients along, which essentially will help keep the eggs coming. Eggs are comprised of 65%-75% water, so keeping your chicken’s water fresh and readily available will do nothing but help.
Stress and Ageing
Chickens are very sensitive to their environment and the elements around them. Any unnecessary stress to them can definitely have a negative impact, and that applies to your entire flock, not just your hens and their egg production. Maintaining an easygoing lifestyle for your flock where they have nothing to worry about is one of the best ways to guarantee a good supply of fresh eggs.
The aging of your hens is one unavoidable reason you may see a decrease in egg production. The only thing you can do about that is to replace the old ones with fresher chicks.
Overall, if you want to get your chickens in tiptop shape, you must invest in quality feed, keep fresh water readily available at all times, provide multivitamins when necessary, and maintain a clean coop. Don’t forget, good husbandry is the key to keeping up good egg production.