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Why Do Chickens Stop Laying Eggs [10 Reasons With Easy Solutions!]

My chickens know more about ancient customs than I do! Every Easter, they promptly stop laying eggs, obviously respecting the medieval tradition that banned the consumption of eggs during Lent. Tradition aside, why do chickens stop laying eggs? And, can we help our hens get back into the swing of things?

It’s hardly surprising that chickens stop laying eggs now and then. Especially when you consider that, for a high-producing hen, such as a White Leghorn, her – annual egg production is more than ten times her body weight!

Let’s explore some of the reasons chickens stop laying eggs and how we might help them return to regular production.

Why Do Chickens Stop Laying Eggs

There are many reasons why your chickens may stop laying eggs. Some main reasons are:

  1. The time of the year. Chickens stop laying eggs due to shorter daylight hours.
  2. Molting. All protein production is directed towards feather production, not egg production.
  3. Stress. Chickens are sensitive creatures and all sorts of things can stress them out and cause them to stop laying.
  4. Poor nutrition. Chickens need plenty of plenty of protein, calcium, vitamins, and some grit to aid digestion.
  5. Age. As chickens age, their egg production slows and eventually stops altogether.
  6. Broodiness. A chicken is putting all her energy into hatching eggs rather than laying eggs.
  7. Illness. A chicken who’s not feeling well will be unable to produce as many eggs as a healthy hen.
  8. Pests. Pests and insects cause discomfort, irritation, and feather loss. 
  9. Extreme weather. Not only can weather conditions cause stress (which negatively impacts egg production), but they can cause physiological changes also.
  10. Rambunctious roosters. Hens that feel harassed by a rooster become so stressed that they may stop eating and laying eggs, resorting instead to hiding away.

While some reasons are unavoidable, others can be remedied with our simple methods below so you and your hens can achieve optimal egg production.

Let’s look at why chickens stop laying eggs in detail, and the solutions so we can help our hens feel happy and healthy.

1. Shorter Days

indoor chickens resting warm cozy coop
The winter usually means fewer eggs. Your hens may begin molting as the days shorten! As a result, egg production will likely halt to a stop. Artificial lighting is one of the most common ways to overcome the shorter daylight hours during the winter.

Just as we tend to want to hibernate in the winter, becoming less active and productive, so hens are more reluctant to lay when the days become shorter and colder.

Can you blame them?

While it’s natural for chickens to lay fewer eggs during winter, it’s not always convenient for their owners. 

In the Northern hemisphere, the days start shortening at the end of June and only lengthen again after Christmas.

During this period? There may be as few as eight hours of light per day

Some hardier chicken breeds, such as the Rhode Island Red and Australorp, will battle on, producing almost as many eggs as they do in the summer months. Others, however, need to give their bodies a bit of a break. 

The best way to combat this natural decline is to use artificial lighting to fool the chickens into thinking it’s summer. 

Coop lights don’t have to be particularly expensive or very bright.

The general rule of thumb that all farmers swear by is that the light in your chicken coop should be just bright enough to read – presumably so that the hens can tell each other bedtime stories.

A simple timer means you can easily control when the lights come on and off. Ideally, they should come on early in the morning and shut off just after sunrise so your chickens can rest – without henhouse stress!

The ideal scenario gives your chickens 15 hours of light per day, so if you get eight hours of natural lightseven hours of artificial light should be enough to maintain steady egg production throughout the winter.

A plug-in timer makes it easy to set the perfect timing for artificial lighting.

2. Molting

molting chickens well feathered flock
During the molting process – your hens will likely stop laying. Molting allows your hens to replace their worn-out feathers! Molting also regenerates the hen’s oviduct – a mandatory organ for egg production!

Chickens molt every year for around eight to 12 weeks, although many factors influence the frequency. Environment, the age of the chicken, and nutrition all impact the length of the molt. 

This natural process enables the hen to shed her old feathers and replace them with new ones. It’s also an opportunity to rejuvenate her oviduct – the organ responsible for egg production.

It stands to reason that she’ll also stop laying eggs during this period.

Molting can be a stressful time for both chicken and owner, but there are ways of reducing that anxiety. Consider that feathers contain 80 to 85% protein!

They have a massive protein demand! A high protein intake can hopefully stimulate the feather regrowth and help them start laying again.

To do this, you can either boost their diet with a high-protein commercial feed or rustle up some homemade molt muffins with a combination of protein-rich ingredients, like oatmeal, sunflowers, and bananas.

Read More – 13 Fun Chicken Roost Ideas! Perfect for Chickens Roosting in Style!

3. Poor Nutrition

Many chicken owners give their hens commercial feeds specifically designed for laying hens.

These layer feeds meet all the hen’s nutritional needs and contain plenty of protein, calcium, vitamins, and some grit to aid digestion.

You can also boost egg production by giving your chickens easy access to an oyster shell supplement. Oyster shell supplements (like these ones) can provide your beloved flock with additional vitamins, minerals, and an extra protein boost.

In addition to a balanced diet, chickens also need access to plenty of fresh, clean drinking water, especially in hot weather.

If your chickens are thirsty or left without water for even an hour or so, it can disrupt their laying pattern, leading to a drop in egg production.

4. Stress

healthy and vibrant chickens
Maintaining the health of your flock starts with a diverse and nutritious diet! But – your hens also prefer a safe, nurturing environment. Stress, predators, and even a messy coop might cause your hens to become less productive – and unhappy!

A couple of years ago, a friend brought her children to the farm. Unbeknownst to us, they snuck into the chicken coop and proceeded to try and catch and pet one of the chickens!

For two weeks after that event, our chickens were so anxious that they produced no eggs at all. Poor things!

Chickens are sensitive creatures, and all sorts of things can stress them out and cause them to stop laying. Stressful factors include:

Take inventory of stressors in the lives of your chickens.

Remove them – and watch the happiness (and productivity) of your flock skyrocket.

And – your chickens will thank you for making their lives happier!

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11/26/2022 02:20 am GMT

Read More – Inside Beautiful Chicken Coops – 13 Pictures to Delight and Inspire Your Hens!

5. Broodiness

When a chicken decides it’s time to sit on a clutch of eggs and hatch them, she’ll stop laying eggs altogether, putting all her energy into hatching instead.

Some broody hens don’t eat as much! As a result – they may lack the nutrition needed to produce eggs

We let our chickens go through their broody periods naturally. But – though we never seem to get any chicks from our efforts.

That’s why some backyard chicken owners prefer to curb those instincts. 

If you choose to try and disrupt a hen’s broodiness, you can:

  • Regularly remove the chicken from the nest, luring her with treats or physically picking her up and putting her outside
  • Close the nesting area
  • Place a bottle of cold or frozen water under the hen while she’s sitting
  • Remove all nesting material

Also – try to make a habit of collecting eggs regularly. And, keep your eyes out for eggs that you may have missed!

6. Age

Chickens only produce so many eggs during their lifetime. As they age, their egg production slows and subsequently stops altogether.

The productive life of chickens varies from breed to breed, although most will produce an average of 600 eggs in their lifetime.

Therefore, a hen that lays 300 eggs a year will have a productive lifespan of two years, whereas a less prolific breed that lays just 150 eggs per year could continue laying eggs for up to four.

There’s very little you can do about an older hen that stops laying, other than invest in a breed that’s known for its longevity, like the Rhode Island Red or Barred Rock.

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Black Soldier Fly Larvae
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11/26/2022 04:01 am GMT

7. Pests

Last summer, we had a horrible mite infestation in our chicken coop that caused all our hens to go on strike. I can’t blame them – mites are nasty things that cause discomfort, irritation, and feather loss. 

Lice cause similar problems and can also cause your hens to stop laying. 

As with most pests? Preventing an infestation is much easier than eradicating one!

By checking your coop and hens regularly, keeping your nesting boxes clean, and providing your chickens with a good dust bath, you can control your pest population and maintain egg production.

Read More – 9 DIY Chicken Treat Recipes! Ambrosia for Chickens!

8. Illness

A chicken who’s feeling a bit off-color will be unable to produce as many eggs as a healthy hen.

A drop in egg production isn’t a definite sign of sickness but, when accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms, the lack of eggs is likely related to ill-health:

  • Droopy comb
  • Diarrhea 
  • A drop in energy levels
  • Vent discharge
  • Trouble walking
  • Unwilling to leave the coop

It’s difficult to diagnose the exact cause of a hen’s distress and, if the condition persists, you may want to get a professional opinion from a nearby vet.  

Alternatively, you can isolate the sick hen for a day or two, give her system a boost by adding electrolytes and vitamins to her water, and see if there are any signs of improvement.

9. Extreme Weather

adorable chicken in the cold snow
It’s tough to raise chickens in the bitter cold! You may find that your henhouse and flock slow down considerably during the cold winter months. It’s tough to blame them!

Not only can extreme weather conditions cause stress that negatively impacts egg production, but they can cause physiological changes that have a similar effect. 

In tremendously hot weather, chickens will stop laying eggs to reduce the stress on their bodies. 

Given that the ideal laying temperature hovers around 65-75°F, chickens in hotter states like Louisiana and Texas, where the average summer temperature is around 80-85°F, need lots of shade, good coop ventilation, and access to plenty of water. 

You may even want to place a fan in the coop to encourage them to lay eggs or put out water sprinklers to keep them cool. Check out this article for more ideas about keeping your homestead animals cool in summer.

Cold weather can be equally problematic for your backyard flock, although, with coop heaters being both widely available and affordable, it’s easier to deal with than scorching summers.

Some chicken breeds are also hardier than others, with Australorps and Plymouth Rocks not minding cold climates.

10. Randy and Rambunctious Roosters

chicken flock country chicken tractor
These days – it seems like we can all empathize with chaotic, unpredictable, and extreme weather. Extreme heat, freezing temperatures, or violent winds. Such events can cause stress on your flock!

An amorous or lovesick rooster can cause havoc in your backyard flock!

Hens that feel harassed by a rooster become so stressed that they may stop eating and laying eggs, resorting instead to hiding away.

They’re trying to they’ll avoid the unruly rooster’s affections. 

Some roosters are also rough with their hens, causing physical damage and feather loss. 

To combat these problems, you could remove your rooster from the flock, giving him just a couple of days a week to perform his duties.

You could also get jackets or saddles for your hens to protect them against potential injury. 

Why Do Your Hens Stop Laying Eggs?

While it is natural for hens to stop laying eggs at certain times of the year and in their lives, it can be frustrating for a backyard chicken owner. It sometimes feels that we’re putting far more effort and money into our hens than we’re getting back in the form of eggs. 

Working out why your chickens have stopped laying is the first step toward remedying the situation.

Hopefully, this article will help you figure out what’s preventing your chickens from producing eggs and what you can do to stimulate them back into production.

Let us know if you have tips for healthy egg production – or how to increase egg production safely and humanely?

Thanks for reading – and happy laying!

And, before you go – the list below includes our favorite dried maggots and larvae to really boost your chicken’s nutrition intake. We guarantee they’ll go wild for these!

  1. Dried BSF Larvae - Natural Chicken Feed Supplement | Bugs for Birds
  2. Dried BSF Larvae - Natural Chicken Feed Supplement | Bugs for Birds
    $33.45 ($8.36 / lb)

    Here's our favorite source of black soldier fly grubs and maggots for our flock. Bugs for Birds! They're perfect for turkeys, ducks, guinea hens, and reptiles. We love how they come from North America! Bugs for Birds also has excellent reviews. We believe they make a safe, clean, and delicious product. Delicious for birds, at least!

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    11/26/2022 07:36 am GMT
  3. Black Soldier Fly Larvae, Healthy Chicken Treats | GrubTerra
  4. Black Soldier Fly Larvae, Healthy Chicken Treats | GrubTerra
    $38.95 ($0.49 / Ounce)

    Want premium, non-GMO treats for your flock? Then try these black soldier fly larvae! (Grubs!) They come from Canada and the USA. They're perfect for ducks, wild birds, and chickens. They contain no preservatives, fillers, or additives. The fly larvae also come in a resealable pouch - and they stay fresh for up to 12 months.

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    11/26/2022 09:11 am GMT
  5. USA Produced Grubs (Black Fly Larvae) & Organic Whole Grains | Joenks
  6. USA Produced Grubs (Black Fly Larvae) & Organic Whole Grains | Joenks
    $32.99 ($0.21 / Ounce)

    We love these chicken treats! They come in a massive 10-pound resealable bag and are from the USA. They contain a mixture of black fly larvae (fly maggots) and organic whole grains. The grubs are high in protein and calcium. They make excellent forage supplements for your free-range birds. The bag also contains alfalfa, corn, field peas, and sunflower seeds.

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    11/26/2022 02:16 am GMT
  7. Dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae - Made in The USA | Chubby Mealworms
  8. Dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae - Made in The USA | Chubby Mealworms

    These black soldier fly larvae (fly maggots) are hidden gems. They're made in the USA and contain oodles of rich calcium for your flock. The larvae are also dried and packaged within the USA. The bag is clear and weighs five pounds. These larvae contain roughly 42% protein and 34% fat.

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  9. Calcium Fortified Dried BSF | Eggcellent
  10. Calcium Fortified Dried BSF | Eggcellent
    $15.99 ($15.99 / Pound)

    Want to reward and spoil your flock? Grab a handful of these dried larvae. They contain around 41% crude protein. They're perfect for chicken, koi, ducks, wild birds, and turkeys. Unfortunately, we have no evidence as to where these maggots get raised. However, we included them in this list because the reviews are undeniably excellent. (Many of the reviews for fly maggots and fly larvae are terrible! - But these have good writeups.)

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    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    11/26/2022 02:26 am GMT

Read More – 10 Free DIY Chicken Tractor Plans! Homemade and Affordable!

Author

  • Nicky

    A horse-mad redhead with a passion for the outdoors, Nicky lives on a 6ha small-holding on the Wild Coast of South Africa. She spends her time rearing goats, riding (rearing) horses, and meticulously growing her own chicken food. She has a witch’s knack with herbs and supplements everything, from her beloved Australian Cattle Dog to the occasional passing zebra with the fruits of her labor. Nothing is bought unless Nicky fails to MacGyver it out of scraps of broken bridles, baling twine, or wire. She loves baling twine (and boxes, oddly enough).

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