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Why Has My Hen Stopped Laying Eggs?

Updated on October 3, 2016

Why Has My Hen Stopped Laying Eggs? Chicken Egg Laying Problems

Having egg laying hens is a fun way to provide fresh eggs for your family but sometimes you will run across chicken egg laying problems. Egg laying hens that were bred specifically to lay a lot of eggs tend to produce more eggs than some of the other breeds. But pullets (hens under one year of age) lay more eggs than older hens.

But what happens when your hens either stop laying completely or your egg product substantially drops suddenly? You may wonder if your hens have some mysterious illness that has made them all stop laying about the same time. What do you do?

First of all relax! All egg laying hens can stop laying eggs for any number of reasons that have nothing to do with illness, although they could also be sick. There are a number of reasons for chicken egg laying problems.

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Molting Hens

Why Has My Hen Stopped Laying Eggs? Chicken Egg Laying Problems

Many people wonder "why has my hen stopped laying eggs?" There are a number of reasons for chicken egg laying problems so let's go over them now.

What are some of the common reasons for egg laying to stop?

Molting is a very common cause of chicken egg laying problems. Molting causes your hens to either stop laying completely or to lay sporadically due to the extra stress on their bodies of losing old feathers and growing new ones. Molting is a natural process that usually occurs in the fall where your egg laying hens will start to lose anywhere from a few feathers to almost all of their feathers. They usually do not all molt at exactly the same time. I knew my hens would molt but the first time I ran across a pile of feathers, I panicked and thought something had attacked one of my hens! When I looked more closely, I noticed that some of the ladies were almost bald in areas!

Broody Hens

Why Has My Hen Stopped Laying Eggs? Chicken Egg Laying Problems

Broody hens will stop laying eggs and are a very common source of chicken egg laying problems. How can you tell if a hen is broody? If you notice a hen that is sitting in one area all the time and she doesn't get up and move around, she is probably broody. She can be broody even if you remove all of her eggs. It can talk several weeks for her to get over her broody behavior and start laying eggs again. Just be sure that she leaves the nest to eat and drink during this time. They have been known to actually starve to death sometimes.

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Hens With Babies

Why Has My Hen Stopped Laying Eggs? Chcken Egg Laying Problems

Hens that still have chicks with them or that have recently raised chicks won't lay eggs. And your hen may not start laying again for a few months until she gets out of "mommy mode". She won't lay new eggs during this time because she won't want to be tied to any eggs until her chicks are fully grown and don't need her anymore. The good news is that once her chicks are independent, usually from 6 to 8 weeks old in my personal experience, she will start laying eggs again. As chicken egg laying problems go, this one will fix itself.

Stressed Hens

Why Has My Hen Stopped Laying Eggs? Chicken Egg Laying Problems

Stress is a very common cause of chicken egg laying problems. Stress can affect your hens to the point that they will begin laying eggs sporadically or it can even shut down egg production completely. There can be a number of things that can stress your hens to the point that they quit laying. You may know exactly what the problem is or you may have to observe your chickens and see what is causing the stress.

Common causes of stress include:

- Adding new full grown chickens to the flock.

- Adding new chicks to the flock.

- One or more chickens picking on a specific hen.

- Putting them in a new hen house.

- Actually moving your hens to a new location.

- Dogs, cats or other predators can also be harrassing your hens.

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Weather Conditions

Why Has My Hen Stopped Laying Eggs? Chicken Egg Laying Problems

Many people don't realize just how much weather conditions can affect egg laying in your flock of chickens. Extremely hot weather will cause your hens to lay sporadically. A few hot days here and there won't do much to your egg production, but extended hot streaks in the weather that drag on will wreak havoc will egg production. When it got really hot around here this summer, I got no eggs for a solid week and I had 15 egg laying hens at that time. There is not much you can do about the heat but my hens do enjoy being able to stand in a shallow rubber water dish. It seems to make them happy and maybe they feel cooler.

The cold winter months and the shorter days are natures way of slowing down egg production in your egg laying hens. I typically allow my hens their "down time" and don't do anything to force egg production. I worm my chickens during this time as well. It is less stressful to their bodies because they aren't laying much or at all. But, if you want egg production to continue, you can put a heat lamp in their hen house to keep the area warm and to provide the extra "daylight hours" that they need to lay. Your egg laying hens would probably really appreciate the warmer conditions.

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Old Age And Breed Of Your Hens

Why Has My Hen Stopped Laying Eggs? Chicken Egg Laying Problems

As your hens get older, you will notice a drop in egg production. They will still lay eggs but they won't lay every day as they age. Prime egg production years for an egg laying hen is up to 2 years of age. All hens that are over 2 years of age will slow down somewhat, but egg production gets even less the older they get. I have two hens that are 8 years old right now and they are currently laying about 2 eggs each every week. They are big, beautiful eggs though.

If your chicken egg laying problems are a result of older hens, there is only one solution. To increase egg production, you will have to add new pullets to your hen house every year to ensure optimum egg production. Many backyard chicken owners allow their older hens to just live out the rest of their lives and are happy with the few eggs they contribute. Others will decide to cull these older hens.

The number of eggs that your hens lay will also depend on the breed of hens you have. Some breeds of chickens are bred to lay more prolifically than others. If egg production is very important to you then research the breeds you need.

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Check For Hidden Nests Or Egg Eating Hens

Why Has My Hen Stopped Laying Eggs? Chicken Egg Laying Problems

If your egg production has dropped or stopped completely and none of the conditions above apply, look for hidden nests or observe your chickens closely to see if one or more hens are eating your eggs. If you find a hen eating your eggs, it is almost impossible to stop this behavior so you will either need to find her a new home or keep her confined in a different area.

Parasites

Why Has My Hen Stopped Laying Eggs? Chicken Egg Laying Problems

One of the worse chicken egg laying problems are parasites, both internal and external. Parasite infestation or illness can also affect egg laying in your hens. When egg production is affected for no reason that you can figure out, then you should inspect your chickens for parasites on their bodies and inspect their living areas for parasites as well. You may also consider taking a fecal sample to your local vet to see if they have internal parasites that need to be treated. Parasite infestations that are left untreated will affect egg production as well as the overall health of your flock. Severe parasite infestations can lead to the death of your birds.

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Why Has My Hen Stopped Laying Eggs

Why Has My Hen Stopped Laying Eggs? Chicken Egg Laying Problems

Keep in mind that egg production will vary depending on a number of conditions. Chicken egg laying problems are usually not really problems at all. Some of these conditions you can control and some you cannot. As long as your hens look healthy and are active, then I wouldn't worry if egg laying is decreased or stopped. Obviously, if your hens look ill, then you need to separate the affected hens and take them to the vet.

Legal

I designed this lens to provide general information on chickens and chicken care for anyone looking for it. But, you should know that I do this for a living and this website generates some revenue through affiliate marketing. If you click a link and purchase something from that link, I will make a percentage off that sale. Debbie Vornholt is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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