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5 Reasons Why Your Hens Aren’t Laying

Updated on September 4, 2017
Maggie Bonham profile image

Maggie Bonham, or Margaret H. Bonham, is a multiple award-winning pet author and expert. She has written more than 20 books on pets.

If you own chickens, you probably have experienced an egg slow down or maybe even had your chickens stop laying altogether. Chickens stop laying for a variety of reasons. Here are the five most common:

Seasonal Slowdown

Seasonal Slowdown

With the shorter days of fall and winter, chickens naturally reduce their egg production. Some will even stop. To combat this slowdown, you can increase the amount of light in the coop, thus "tricking" them to lay more. Hens need at least 14 hours of light.

Age

Egg Laying Slowdown

Do your chickens slow down or stop laying in the winter?

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Age

With age may come beauty, but don't expect eggs. Laying slackens off with chickens every year; after the third year, production drops a whopping 40%. If you're set on having a higher egg production, expect to get new layers every two to three years.

Molting

Molting

Chickens molt, that is, shed their feathers to grow new ones. Molting typically occurs sometime around 2 years and more frequently after that. During molting, the chicken uses its energy to grow feathers, not eggs.

Improper Diet

Improper Diet

Many birds slow down or stop laying if fed an incorrect diet. These birds are nutritionally starved and need to be fed a balanced diet so that they may lay more eggs. This can be remedied by feeding a proper layer ration.

Stress

Stress

Birds that are stressed, that are diseased, overcrowded, or infested with parasites may slow down in egg production or may stop laying altogether. Eliminate the stressors and you'll have healthier and happier hens.

Free-ranging Chicken

Other Considerations

When considering these reasons for a reduction in egg laying, also consider that there may be other reasons for not seeing eggs. If you free range your chickens, your chickens may be hiding the eggs in odd places away from you. You may have snakes or rats that may be stealing eggs from your chickens. Your chickens may run out of feed or water, thus stressing them. You may have too many roosters that are harassing the chickens. Changes in weather, such as getting hot rapidly or cold suddenly can stress birds as well. All of these reasons add up to a reduction in laying.

Prevention

As a backyard chicken owner, there are things you can do to ensure a healthy flock. Proper feed, good flock management techniques such as worming and dusting your chickens and coop, predator control, and adding a light for evening hours will help keep your chickens healthy. Practice good biosecurity and quarantine birds brought in. Keep equipment clean and don't share with other flocks/coops

© 2014 Maggie Bonham

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