Reasons Why Your Chickens Not Laying Eggs?

Most people who are new to rearing and keeping backyard chickens are seeking a regular supply of fresh eggs. There are other obvious benefits and certain chickens may even become pets and dutiful hunters of garden pests. But chickens not laying eggs at all is a source of concern and a healthy hen should be laying an egg daily.

Identifying the cause and ensuring that the chickens are not nesting and laying eggs where you can’t find them should be a priority. In this article, we will take a closer look at this problem and offer some proven advice to get things back on track quickly.

Why are My Chickens Not Laying Eggs?

Ideally, your hens will each lay an egg every 24-26 hours. If they stop laying, you need to identify the reason why and address it if possible. Foremost, make sure your girls aren’t nesting and laying outside the coop, or otherwise hiding their eggs!

Eggs in Nesting Box

Seven Main Reasons Why Chickens Not Laying Eggs may be an issue:

1. Inadequate Light Exposure in the Chicken Coop

A hen needs approximately 16 hours of daylight to maintain optimal egg production. Obviously, in winter there are fewer hours of daylight which can affect the hormone levels of your birds. So, it’s not unusual for the chicken to stop laying eggs at this time of year. Adding some lighting to the coop will improve the chickens mood and help them to lay consistently.

2. Chickens Are Stress

Chickens can become stressed by aggressive hens, predators, illnesses, loud noises, temperature fluctuations and overcrowding. When the seasons change or a major change is made it’s important to observe the results and act quickly to solve any issues that arise.

3. Chickens Have Poor Nutrition: –

Lady feeding hens to help when Chickens Not Laying Eggs

Offering treats and food scraps to chickens is a lot of fun, but too much can dilute the nutritional content offered to the birds in their regular food. A laying hen needs a lot of calcium and layer feed to maintain egg production.

An overweight chicken isn’t likely to lay consistently and she may even stop laying altogether. To prevent this issue ensure that only 10% of the diet is in the form of treats and scraps.

4. The Age of Your Chickens–

A young hen will lay her first egg at 18-20 weeks old and the average lifespan of a chicken is around 8 years. In that first year of life the hen will peak in egg production at 5-6 eggs weekly for most species. This will gradually decline over the intervening years and in its final years an older hen will not lay.

5. Chickens are Molting

At approximately 18 months old a chicken will begin to molt and this will continue on an annual basis. At this time the older features are discarded and new features are grown. This usually occurs in Autumn and egg production will stop as the chicken diverts its energy to this natural process.

Molting lasts for 2-4 months and the chicken will be tired, frustrated and haggard during this period. When the new feathers have fully emerged, the chicken should return to normal. It’s interesting to note that some hens may continue to lay throughout the molting process!

6/ Brooding Chicken

When a hen is ready to raise her own chicks, she can become confused and come to believe that she’s sitting on fertilized eggs. Those eggs will never hatch and she won’t lay any more because she’s taking care of them. This is known as broodiness and it may affect a hen for 5-10 weeks until they come to terms with the situation. During this period the hen will not lay at all, but eventually the problem may resolve itself.

7/ A Lack of Comfort:

If the hens are experiencing discomfort or are affected by mites, parasites, and illnesses, egg production may slow or even stop altogether. Ensuring that the birds are up to date on their medications, supplied with a balanced feed and occupying a clean coop will mitigate these risks.

How Can I Encourage my Chickens to Lay Eggs

The chickens should be let out of their coop early in the morning to ensure they get the maximum amount of sunlight for the time of year. Although you can add supplemental lighting inside the coop to encourage consistent laying, it’s still important to have darkness for sleep.

Adding a timer to a lighting setup will keep the hens on a consistent sleeping schedule that will keep them happy and healthy. Some chicken owners give their hens a winter egg-laying break and if you choose this option you won’t need artificial lights.

Note that some chicken owners prefer to give their hens a break from laying over winter; if you elect to do this, don’t provide them with extra sources of artificial light.

Protect your Coop and Run from Predators.

To reduce stress and protect the chickens from predators, it’s important to protect the coop.

The temperature in the coop should be comfortable, but not too different from the conditions outside.

The nesting box bedding should be dry and fresh and there should be no more than four hens using each nesting box.

Inside the coop you will need at least 1 sq mt per chicken and the run outside should double that size.

Make regular observations on the behavior and health of the birds to address any issues earlier.

If you see a change in the pecking order and an obvious bully is throwing her weight around, she needs to be separated from her potential victims.

      • Switch your hens to a high protein food product during the molt. Provide plenty of protein (chicken feed), calcium (eggshell grit or oyster shell) and treats like berries, organic yogurt, and scrambled eggs in moderation. Transition them back to layer feed which is high in calcium after laying resumes.

        When a Hen is Broody

        She may become aggressive when you attempt to collect eggs. She may stay in the nest constantly only leaving briefly to eat and visit the toilet. The hen may even pluck and scatter her breast feathers in and around the nesting box. If this behavior persists for too long, the hen may become sick and intervention may be required.

        To break the pattern, it may be necessary to move the hen to a well-lit area in a wire cage for around a week. Before you implement this drastic measure, try to collect eggs from the hen twice daily to see if you can prevent brooding.

        During Molting

        Consider a switch to a high protein diet to support their health. Many commercial chicken food is specifically designed for this purpose and you can supplement with appropriate treats, including organic yogurt, berries and even scrambled eggs. Extra calcium in the form of oyster shell and eggshell grit can be beneficial, but all food supplementation should be in moderation.

        Free Range Chickens Eating Diet

        When the molt is complete, transition the hen back to a layer feed that’s calcium-rich to improve the egg quality.

        Some breeds are simply not prolific layers – for example, the Ameraucana and Silkie only lay two eggs per week on average.

        A hen’s value continues long after her peak laying capacity has passed. Even retired hens are wonderful flock members – they provide fantastic companionship for you and their flock mates, and frequently become leaders, raising younger hens.

        Chickens not laying EggsIn Conclusion 

        Chickens not laying eggs is a problem, but sometimes the solution is simpler than you might imagine. Remember that certain chicken breeds such as the Silkie, the Ameracuana and others are not prolific layers and they may only produce 1-2 eggs per week.

        It’s also important to note that older retired hens can bring a lot of community and stability to a flock and they can make wonderful companions. In many cases they have a positive impact on younger hens and indirectly they may still be assisting in consistent egg production. If you’ve followed the advice in this brief guide and you still have an issue, contact your local veterinarian for professional advice.