Chickens Not Laying? This May Be Why
There are many reasons you may find your chickens not laying eggs regularly. People often get worried, frustrated, or a combination of the two. There are many different reasons a chicken may not be laying eggs, and some of them can be solved pretty easily. Here are eight reasons your hen may not be producing eggs!
1. Diet and Nutrition
Diet is a huge one. Unhealthy chickens won’t lay eggs. Specifically, overweight chickens may not lay eggs. Just like humans, chickens need to remain healthy in order to have healthy bodily functions. There are many things you can do to prevent obesity in chickens, but the most important guideline is to make sure they’re getting the right food.
Another factor in the chicken’s diet is the right nutrients. In order to lay eggs, chickens need protein, calcium, and many other nutrients. Choosing what to feed your chickens is an important decision, and you should give some attention to it. Layer pellets are a great way to go, as they generally contain all that chickens need to lay eggs and remain healthy as far as diet goes.
Chickens need sunshine in order to remain healthy. In general, hens need at least 13 hours of daylight to produce eggs. In places where the winter days are especially short, your hens may not lay eggs during the colder season. If you have indoor chickens or live somewhere with short days during the winter, an artificial light may be necessary to keep them producing.
It’s useful to understand that the chicken’s laying patterns are natural. When your hen is not laying eggs in the winter, it does not mean there is necessarily something wrong with her. Often, chickens will resume normal laying when the days grow longer. Be patient, get to know your hens, and make sure they stay warm in the winter. Also, some chicken breeds will lay normally in the winter, while others will not lay at all.
Next, you may just have a broody hen! A broody chicken is a bird that wants some children. A brooder will sit on her eggs after she lays them for about three weeks, or the normal hatching period. An especially broody hen will do this even if there are no eggs, or if they are another hen’s eggs. Some breeds, like the Cochin are more prone to broodiness. Other breeds, like the Polish rarely brood.
When a hen becomes broody, you’ll notice she sits in the nest box or coop more than usual. She may become more territorial or even defensive of her eggs, and will sometimes remove her chest feathers and put them around the eggs for warmth. There are ways to stop a hen from brooding, but remember again that this is a natural inclination!
4. Change in Routine
Any change in routine can impact a hen’s rate of laying. Like many other animals, chickens thrive on routine. A minor disruption can cause chickens to focus on adapting and not on producing eggs. If this is the case for your hens, it just takes time. Try to give them a clear routine of feeding, drinking, sleeping, and foraging.
Common changes in routine that affect egg-laying include the addition of new chickens to the flock, moving to a new home or yard, changing the chicken’s food, building a new coop, and changes in the weather. We can’t control all of these things, so just try to create routine where possible and tune into your flock!
Generally, chickens lay the most eggs in their first year of life. As time goes on, they lay significantly fewer eggs. You can see this chart from The Happy Chicken Coop showing the egg production by year. If your chicken is getting older, she may stop laying as much. There’s not much you can do about this one, as aging is inevitable!
6. Egg Laying by Breed
One of the simplest answers to this question about chickens not laying eggs is that some breeds lay more eggs than others! Some breeds, like the Rhode Island Red, will lay over 200 eggs a year. Other breeds like Ameraucanas may lay only 100 eggs a year. This is normal, and just varies by breed.
Furthermore, many chickens are not pure in breed. Even though your hen looks like one thing, it may be a mixture. The genes for egg-laying aren’t visible to the naked eye, but you may notice your chicken just lays less than others!
7. Sick Hens
Almost any type of illness will affect how many eggs your hen lays. Common sicknesses like the cold can prevent the chicken from producing any egg. Parasites like lice, worms, or mites can also cause a chicken to stop laying. If you notice your chicken showing signs of being sick, this may be the reason. You should of course do what needs to be done to get your chicken well again! Also note that chicken toys can help keep your birds happy and occupied!
8. Time of Year
Finally, chickens don’t lay at the same rate year round. To begin, the winter months can make the chickens conserve their energy to stay warm. Instead of spending valuable energy producing eggs, they’re focusing on warmth. A frozen chicken doesn’t lay any eggs ever, so keep your flock warm! This is also true for the summer months, as some chickens don’t handle heat too well.
Also, chickens moult every year for anywhere from six to twelve weeks. During this time, they shed their feathers and grow new ones. Because this takes so much energy, protein, and calcium, chickens will not lay eggs during this time! This often happens with the change of seasons, so watch out for this. Many people mistake moulting for sickness.
For more information on chickens, check out our Chicken Keeping Resource Guide with FAQ’s, book recommendations, information about different breeds, and all you need to know about coops, runs, feed, and more!