Are your chickens slackers?
When you got baby chicks, you were told they would lay an egg about once a day. And for awhile they did great.
But now, you look in the coop and you’re lucky to get a few eggs with more than a few chickens. What gives?
There are several reasons why hens stop laying eggs, some you can control and some you can’t.
So let’s talk about that and see if we can help you understand what’s going on in your chicken coop.
7 Reasons Your Chickens Have Stopped Laying Eggs
Losing feathers and re-growing them is called molting and occurs every year when the days get shorter. During molt, chickens typically stop laying eggs and use this time to build up their nutrient reserves. Even though they are not laying, it is critical that your chickens have a high quality diet during this time. (Nutrena World)
Adult chickens will molt twice a year (in the spring and fall). During molting, your chickens will not only stop laying, but they will have feather loss, weight loss, mood changes and skin sores. (Tractor Supply)
So if your chickens are looking a little rough, they may be molting. Just give them time and they will be back to their usual selves. And their egg production will come back as well.
2. Winter (not enough light)
Chickens can stop laying eggs if they don’t have enough daylight. This happens in the winter time when the days are short.
Hens need at least 14 hours of light to produce consistent eggs.
There is a big debate in the homesteading world as to whether you should give them additional light in the coop or let them rest over the winter.
I prefer to let mine rest because:
- adding light can cause a fire in the coop.
- it is part of the natural course of their lives to have a break in the winter.
- we get a ton on eggs the rest of the year, so we can afford to give them a break in the winter.
If you do decide to add artificial light to your coop, make sure it doesn’t get close to hay or other materials that could catch on fire.
It is tempting to feed your chickens the cheapest feed possible to keep your egg costs low.
But most cheap feed doesn’t have the protein your hens need to lay consistently (even cheap layer feed).
Laying hens need atleast 18% protein in their feed to lay properly. If they are free range and aren’t laying, you may want to supplement their diet with extra protein.
So make sure and check your feed to see if you are providing enough protein to your hens to help them produce eggs more frequently.
4. Too Old
Hens in their first couple of years will lay about 1 egg a day on average.
As they get older, their egg production my slip slowly. But most laying breeds will continue to lay eggs for five to seven years.
So if you have some hens older than that, it may be time to cull your flock for better egg production.
Just like us, chickens don’t do their best work under stress.
What does a chicken have to be stressed about? Let’s see:
- being bullied by other chickens
Try to take care of these issues the best you can and your chickens should start laying again.
Many people worry about their chickens in the winter time. But chickens that are born in a cool environment adapt easily to the cold and snowy weather.
On the other hand, heat can be a real problem for chickens in the summer.
Although chickens are very adaptable to weather changes, they usually perform their best around 75 degrees and below. Consistently high summer temperatures can cause your chickens to suffer from heat stress, overheating, or even stop their egg laying process. For heavier breeds, extreme heat can even cause death. (Manna Pro)
Check out this blog post for more ideas on how to keep your chickens cool in the summer for better egg production —> 18 Ways to Keep Your Homestead Animals Cool in the Summer Heat.
What does broody mean? Broody is a hen that has laid eggs and intends to hatch them for chicks.
You can tell if a hen is broody if she is sitting in the nesting box and doesn’t want to move. She will also probably be very defensive if you try to take the eggs out from under her.
When hens are broody, they won’t lay new eggs. They will keep the eggs they have laid and sit on them all day and night.
So if you have a broody hen, you can try to break her of it or move her to a secure location and let her hatch chicks for you (assuming you have a rooster to fertilize the eggs).
Do any of these situations sound like they might be your problem?
If you are having a problem with your chickens not laying, it probably has to do with one of these issues.
My chickens usually slow down or stop laying in the winter. Like I said above, I don’t use extra light. I let them take a break from laying while I use up the extra eggs I got the rest of the year.
Having chickens can be a great addition to any homestead. If you would like to know what else chickens can do for you besides lay eggs, check out this blog post —> 6 Surprising Ways Chickens Are Helpful to Your Homestead.
And get those chickens laying again!
What is your biggest problem when your chickens stop laying? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this post helpful, please share. Thanks!