Whether you run a farm or you get all your poultry from your own chickens – you probably rely heavily on them to either produce or just eat. And when the chickens are not producing enough eggs, then you’ll start to worry.
Usually, a chicken needs to produce between 1 to 3 eggs every day. Sometimes, a chicken may not let any, other times, it may lay more than expected.
But a chicken must always be laying eggs, at least every two days or so. If it is not, then there’s probably something terrible happening to the hen.
Here, we’re going over the different factors that could be affecting your chickens’ egg production in-depth. Want to find out more? Then come and learn!
Why Your Chickens Stop Laying Eggs?
1. Wrong or Insufficient Diet
At least half of the time chickens don’t lay eggs is due to malnourishment or bad habits.
This is pretty common, and it happens because either they’re eating the wrong food or they’re just not eating enough.
Another common reason is also when chickens are not eating enough protein. Yes, it’s a little ironic because we get protein from them – why would they need it, right?
Well, they’re also animals and to produce eggs, hens need protein in their bodies as well. At least 20g of protein is essential for them to produce 1 egg.
So, if your female chickens are not producing, it’s probably because they’re not eating right. Try to add higher amounts of protein to their diet or just change to something more protein-rich if possible.
But sometimes it can be because they’re eating something new and haven’t yet accustomed to it.
That’s why it is critical to know how to introduce new brands of pellets or maize food before completely changing the diet. Do it slowly by mixing brands or types of food before changing it completely.
Overall, make sure they have enough of the right food and in the right place. If they don’t find food accessible, they will enter conservation mode and won’t lay an egg as they usually should.
Don’t Forget Water!
Apart from the diet, also take water into account. Chickens also need to hydrate, and for that, you should keep enough water around so they can always refresh themselves when required.
Especially when the climate is hot in the summer, dehydration is a total possibility for hens. This immediately puts them in no-production-zone, which would end up in fewer eggs a week.
Also, alpha hens like to submit other hens by not letting them drink water. This is pretty common, especially when there’s only one source of water. For that, keep at least two or three different pots or stations filled where they can drink from without interference.
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2. Too Much Love
Every rooster can handle about 15 hens alone. They’re reproductive machines that will mount their chickens even if they don’t need to. That’s why it can be counterproductive when there aren’t enough females for one rooster.
The ratio is usually 2 or 3 roosters per group of 36 hens. If the number of hens goes down, it is not the roosters who will have it harder but the hens themselves. And that can cause a lot of stress.
This would end up in the rooster mounting the same hens over and over again, causing them to get sick or unhealthy over time.
Some hens may even develop bare patches on their backs or complete wounds. And surely, when the chicken is hurt physically in any way, its egg production goes down.
If you want to prevent this, make sure there are at least 12 hens per each rooster – especially in big groups. This will keep the egg production stable.
3. Lack of Sun Exposure
Everyone needs sun exposure. And when we say everybody, we also mean chickens. They need it just as we do, and they crave it even more.
In fact, chickens need at least 14 hours a day of sunlight or natural light to feel good. If they don’t get that much, they will probably start feeling stressed or unhealthy, which causes their egg production to go down.
If your hens are not getting at least those 14 to 16 hours of sunlight, they won’t lay eggs as they usually do. They will simply stop due to the hormonal changes that the lack of sunlight produces in their bodies.
This is pretty common in winter or rainy seasons. Some days in the US, for example, daylight may not last more than 9 hours – and that can be disastrous for chickens.
In that case, there’s nothing more useful than getting artificial lights. Yes, even though it is not the same and doesn’t deliver the same kind of nutrients to their bodies – it keeps their daylight meter in check.
We recommend LED lights for this. There’s probably not a better option to place inside over their nests. You won’t need many bulbs, though. Just about 9 25-watt LED bulbs for every 100 square feet of space will be enough.
Set a timer to start when outside gets dark. Or just let the bulbs on all day long depending on where you have the hens. Over time, this will keep their daylight exposure at the right level and the production stable.
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4. Broody Behavior
When hens lay eggs, they instantly become mothers. And surely, when this happens they will act like any other mother would to protect their babies.
Even if they are well-fed, well-nourished, and well-kept along with enough sisters – females may not lay eggs if they want their actual eggs to hatch.
This is pretty common and happens more than most people realize.
They become territorial, don’t let any other animal get near their eggs, and eventually, don’t even want to eat or get as much sun exposure as usual. Hens in a broody state will only look to protect their eggs until they hatch – for 21 days.
And of course, this causes a low on production which could ultimately harm your harvest. So, there’s no other choice than to stop them when they get broody.
But this can be difficult, and there are both easy and hard ways to do so. Still, we’ll take our time and explain them to you:
Remove Her from the Nest
Keeping the hen out of the nest will confuse her. It will probably try to go back to the nest as soon as you let her down. Don’t worry, you just need to block the path to the nest and keep her away for a few hours.
Make her Roost
Making a chicken roost again after laying eggs will probably get the brood out of her. This is pretty effective and works almost instantly. As soon as you place a hen close to others where it can’t find her eggs, the broodiness will go out.
Cage the Chicken
Sometimes neither of the previous things works. In this case, there will be nothing left to do than to place the hen on a cage away from her eggs. You just need to put a bowl with food and one with water inside the cage, and that’s it. Let her stay in the birdcage for 3 days.
If the hen lays an egg within the 3 days, her broodiness went away. Also, if the hen is socializing after the three days, then it is a good sign. But if the chicken goes back to the nest in search of her eggs after you let it out, then it’s time to cage her again until she comes back to spawning.
5. Changes in the Flock
Among the many other factors that could be affecting the hen, you should count the overall mood of the flock. They are pretty complicated animals even though they don’t look like it – so tiny things can change their behavior completely.
With even the slightest disruption in the flock, they can become moody and just won’t lay eggs anymore. This behavior can last a few days, but may also last several weeks.
This happens due to one of three main reasons:
You can fix all of these three by keeping their livelihood as consistent as possible. And before adding new chicks to the flock, do it carefully.
6. Stressful Environments
Nothing makes birds stop egg production than the wrong environment. When they don’t feel safe or comfortable, hens won’t lay eggs.
It’s natural when they don’t feel right in their environments to stop spawning – either because they’re too stressed or because there’s something just not letting them do so.
The most common issue is predators around. When there are foxes, dogs, cats, or just any animal that they can’t keep out or protect their eggs from – they won’t lay any more eggs until they feel safe again.
The same happens if there’s a broody or aggressive chicken around. They won’t merely feel safe and instead avoid laying anything until the chicken goes away.
On top of that, you may also find that hens don’t like loud noises or extreme temperatures. If they are close to construction sites or where large machines operate, they will probably get stressed and not breed at all. The same happens if they feel too cold or too hot – they will simply stop producing.
If the flock is overcrowded, then that’s another common issue to fix. Keep each coop with just enough hens so they can lay eggs at least 2 feet apart from each other.
Overall, just make sure they feel comfortable with their surroundings. As long as the hens have enough space, don’t have to stand extreme temperatures, and no other animal is creating a threat – then they will lay eggs without any delay.
This is unavoidable and also healthy for chickens to go through. It’s called molt, and it causes them to replace their feathers for new ones.
Usually, it happens when the hens get to their first 18 months of life. When it occurs, hens go through a process that gets a lot of energy from them so they can regrow their new feathers.
This, of course, causes them to stop laying eggs entirely. The stoppage can last from a few weeks to a few months, and there’s no way to stop it.
Most hens with molt may last up to 16 weeks without producing a single egg. But once the feathers grow back ultimately, they will start spawning as frequently.
To help them get well as fast as possible from their molt, you can change their diet to higher protein intake with flock raisers and nutrient-rich foods. This will not stop them from going several days without spawning, but will probably reduce the time and help them grow more beautiful feathers.
8. Not a Breeding Chicken Breed
Sadly, not all breeds are innate egg producers. Yes, all chickens produce eggs. But some provide more than others, it’s just nature.
It is common for certain farmers to forget this often. There’s no way to fix it – you may just have a hen that won’t produce more because of its genetics.
Among the many breeds out there, Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, Jersey Giants, Delawares, and many others can lay 200 eggs a year or more. This can be pretty nice if you’re expecting high spawn.
But Ameraucanas, Silkies, Dorking, and Cochin may not be as productive, sometimes going below 100 eggs a year per hen. So, you shouldn’t expect much more than that.
Before you get a new hen for your flock, you may want to know how many eggs it can leave first. This way, you don’t get any surprises if it doesn’t produce as much as you expect.
Let’s say you have a flock filled by Delaware slaying about 200 eggs a year in the first two or three years. But after four or five healthy years, the production starts going down, and you start guessing why.
If this happens, it is probably because the hens are already too old to handle the laying. It’s pretty normal and shouldn’t disappoint anyone with experience.
In fact, most hens slow down their production from their first year until they meet their eighth or tenth and don’t want to produce more than just 20 to 40 eggs.
So, if you have seemingly old chickens on your backyard or farm and you see they don’t want to lay as many eggs as years before – then it is probably their age.
You could improve their life by giving them better food and making their coops as cozy as possible. But even then, the production will never be as much as in their first 2 years of life.
There won’t be a thing to solve this, so you’ll have to let the chicks grow or just get new hens.
If none of the previous reasons applies to your flock of hens – then it is probably a problem with their health.
Even though they are one of the most resilient farm animals, they’re still living beings, so they also get sick. And when this happens, you’ll have to find the cause and make sure it’s nothing that could eventually escalate.
Here are a few reasons your hens may be sick and how you can cure them:
Chickens also get colds. They also get their nose filled with slime, and their lungs start to work difficultly. When this happens, hens won’t breed as usually, so their egg productions go down.
If you spot a chicken with slimy nostrils and having difficulties even to chuckle – then you’ll have to separate it from the flock. The last thing you want to happen is for every hen in your farm to get sick too. So, keep the sick separated and try to cure them as soon as possible.
From worms to intestinal parasites, lice, mites, and others – anything that produces discomfort or pain to the hen will probably prevent it from laying eggs.
When chickens are sick, their feathers will turn whiter than usual, and their comb pale. If you spot any of your hens not producing enough eggs and with a sick semblance, then you probably need to get rid of parasites.
The best way to do so is by spraying poultry cleaners all-around their coop, nest, and around every other hen you have. This will cure the hen with the parasites and eventually prevent the rest from getting them.
Some roosters like to play rough with their hens. And some hens are so territorial that they may end up harming others.
The consequence is always one or several hens with wounds.
While this doesn’t usually harm their egg production, sometimes it does. And if it happens, then you’ll have to cure the chicken so it can feel safe and painless again.
For deep wounds, make sure to use peroxide, beta dine, or alcohol to prevent an infection. And if the wound is in a place where the hen can’t reach with its pick – then try to cover it so flies and other parasites can’t grow.
After a few weeks or days of giving the hen enough time to cure any of these issues, then you should start seeing great lays again.
Don’t Let your Production Drop!
We all want our flocks to produce as much as possible, but sometimes they just don’t. But don’t worry, with these pieces of advice you will eventually fix any issue with your hens if needed.
Just remember that chickens are animals and not machines – so treat them accordingly. You’ll reap the rewards if you do.