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Why Did My Hens Stop Laying Eggs?

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Why Did My Hens Stop Laying Eggs?So, why did my hens stop laying eggs? One of the reasons why I raise chickens is to have a constant supply of fresh eggs for my family. But my greatest fear is to wake up and find out that some of my hens have stopped laying. As far as I know, this is inevitable and any chicken keeper should always be prepared for that. Nevertheless, I must find out why my birds have stopped laying before I rush into conclusions. And that’s exactly what I’m going to discuss in the following sections.

In most cases, hens stop laying for a number of reasons. Key among them is the amount of daylight, environment, nutrition, molt, and the hens’ age. Stress is also another factor that you should consider when finding answers as to why your birds stopped laying eggs. Most of these reasons are nothing short of natural responses.

If you are raising your chickens for egg production, you must be accustomed to collecting eggs daily. At the end of the day, you always know how many eggs your chickens produce. Anything less than that number should be a matter of concern.

Before you get out to look for an egg thief, you must consider the factors that influence egg production. Most likely one or several factors could be limiting the ability of your birds to lay eggs normally. 

Under normal conditions, your hens should lay once every 26 hours. In a week you should expect at least 5 eggs from each layer. That’s only theoretical, but practically things are different. 

Such differences should serve as indicators of something wrong with your flock of layers. If that happens, I always ask myself why did my hens stop laying eggs? Here are the answers to this question:

Reasons why Hens Stop Laying Eggs

The Environment

  • The environment with which you are raising your layers matters the most. This is because their surroundings can affect their happiness in one way or the other. If your birds are stressed, their egg production declines dramatically. And this could be a reason why your hens have stopped laying. 
  • Stress comes in different forms-overcrowding, predators, loud noises, aggressive hens, poor nutrition, extreme weather conditions, and illness. 
  • Below are a few tips that will help you keep your chicken coop stress-free:
    • Provide adequate space inside the coop to accommodate all chickens.
    • Ensure that there are enough nesting boxes for all layers.
    • Predator proof the coop using galvanized wire and metal screens 
    • Separate your birds if you notice that the pecking order is getting out of hand. 
  • Besides the tips I highlighted above, you should also ensure that the temperature inside the coop is conducive to your hens. Hens, especially cold-tolerant breeds, are able to withstand winter temperatures unlike those adapted to the warmer environment. 

Daylight Hours

  • Daylight hours plays a critical role in egg production. Your hens need not less than 15 hours of daylight to maintain their egg-laying ability. With fewer hours of daylight, your layers will naturally stop producing eggs. 
  • How does this happen? Daylight affects hormonal response in your birds. As the days get shorter and daylight hours reduced, the hormones responsible for egg production are suppressed. 
  • The opposite is true when your layers are exposed to more hours of daylight. This explains why your hens lay best when they get at least 15 hours of light every day. 
  • It does not matter whether the light is artificial or natural provided that they get enough of it. In winter you can use artificial light to promote egg production among your flock because days are usually shorter compared to other seasons. 
  • Some chicken keepers use winter as an ideal time to have their birds take a break from laying. Since that is a deliberate move to stop chickens from producing eggs, there’s nothing to worry about. 
  • For consistent egg production across the year, you must provide supplemental light to encourage your layers to keep laying. In this case, I highly recommend using an LED 3-9 watt or an incandescent 25-watt bulb inside your coop. On top of that, maintain your chicken’s sleeping schedule consistently by using timers to put out the lights when necessary.

Molting

  • Chickens undergo molting to grow new feathers. Actually, this process involves the loss of old feathers and the growth of new feathers among chickens. It starts at 18 months old and continues every year throughout your chicken’s life. 
  • Molting is common in autumn and causes a decrease in the production of eggs. Molting hens redirect their energy to growing new feathers rather than egg production. As a result, there’s a dramatic fall in the production of eggs during the molting phase.
  • The process lasts between eight and 16 weeks depending on your chicken breed. But when the new set of feathers grow, egg production should improve just like in the past. 
  • help your layers through molting, you need to switch to chicken feed containing high amounts of proteins. This type of diet makes your birds to lay consistently regardless of the prevailing conditions. After the molting process, transition back to the usual layer feed containing calcium for high-quality eggs.

Chicken Diet

  • Your chickens’ diet is another factor to consider if you want to promote egg production. If their diet is not right, then they are likely to stop laying eggs. 
  • On the other hand, over-supplying or over-treating your layers can have a negative impact on their productivity. For instance, scraps and treats can have adverse effects on the nutrients contained in a complete layer feed. 
  • If that happens, your birds will be unable to lay consistently. For your hens to lay more eggs, they need 38 nutrients. All these nutrients work towards consistency in egg production and performance. 
  • Out of the 38 essential nutrients, calcium stands out as the most important for layers. Four grams of calcium per day is recommended for a single hen. These commercial layer feeds are normally formulated to provide chickens with essential nutrients in correct proportions. 
  • If you provide too many table scraps and treats then these essential nutrients become diluted. To avoid such mistakes, you must follow the general rule ( 90/10 rule). The rule states that your hen’s diet should include 90 % complete feed.

The Age

  • The age of your hens determines egg production. Most chickens start laying at the age of 18 weeks until they come of age. As a matter of fact, their age is somehow connected to egg production. 
  • On average, chickens live up to 10 years or even longer depending on how well they are taken care of. As they age, their productivity lowers and at some point, they stop laying eggs completely. 
  • In her lifetime, a typical hen can produce as much as 280 eggs in her first year of laying. Beyond one year of egg production, the number of eggs declines gradually until she stops laying
  • As a chicken owner, the age of your birds is a natural thing that you should expect. For that reason, there’s nothing else you can do to make your aged birds lay more eggs again. Instead, you can keep them for other uses that will benefit you and your family.

Broody Hens

  • Some chicken breeds go broody after laying eggs for a while. If your hen stops laying despite providing her with all essentials, she is more likely to go broody. 
  • Broody chickens don’t lay eggs however much you give them plenty of sunshine or proteins. Instead, they prefer sitting on their eggs throughout to hatch them into chicks. 
  • Watch out for the following signs to know if your hen is broody:
    • Sitting in the nesting box all-day
    • Becoming territorial and aggressive to anything getting close to her eggs
    • Removing her breast feathers in order to provide her eggs with  some warmth/heat from her body
  • Once you observe these signs in your hen you can let her go broody or stop her. There are many ways of discouraging your hen from brooding. You can get her out of the nesting box, make her roost, block off the nest box, feed her frozen vegetables or bring out the broody burster.

Related Questions

What happens to your hen once they stop laying eggs? Your chickens can remain your valuable asset long after reaching her peak egg production. These hens can provide you with great companionship or become leaders among your flocks.

How will you know that your hens have stopped laying? If you have several layers in your backyard, you should keep records of their egg production. Any decrease in the number of eggs produced will help you find out where the problem is coming from.

In Conclusion

Why did my hens stop laying? The right answer to this question lies in the factors that affect egg production. These factors include diet, age, environment, molting, and daylight hours. One or several of these factors could be the cause of a sudden decline in the number of eggs. With this information at the back of your mind, you can easily help your hens to lay eggs consistently.

Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!

Why did my hens stop laying eggs?

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