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10 Reasons Why Your Chickens Stop Laying Eggs

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There are many reasons why your chickens stop laying eggs. But it can feel frustrating when you are getting lots of fresh eggs from your hens then production seems to drop off suddenly.

Chickens stop laying eggs for many reasons. Hens will slow down or stop laying eggs when they are stressed, sick, have feed problems, lack of water, have changes in daylight, molting, or going broody. Many of these causes can be easily fixed to get your chickens laying again.

The best way to figure out what is going on with your hens is to look at each part of the puzzle to find out what is causing the hens to stop giving you eggs.

While chickens are pretty hardy birds they can be sensitive to sudden changes in their environment or health. When that happens it stresses out their body and egg laying will slow or stop.

But the good news is that for most cases you can fix the problem and your hens will start laying again within a few days to a few weeks.

Red hen in the grass. Text overlay says Why Your Chickens Stop Laying Eggs.

Reasons Why Your Chickens Stop Laying

1. Diet Problems

One of the most common reasons for hens to stop laying eggs is a problem with their diet.

If you have changed the type of feed or brand recently that would be the first place to check as a problem.

Switching from feeding layer feed to a mixed grain means it could be a drop in protein that has caused your birds to stop laying.

Most layer mash is available in either 16% or 18% protein types. Check your feed to see if it is a lower protein than what you were feeding before and supplement as necessary.

You can choose to supplement by including layer feed in your mix, adding a variety of fresh food, using treats like freeze-dried mealworms to boost their protein.

2. Lack Of Water

Laying hens will drink 1 cup or more of water per day. If they have lost access to water and not been able to drink they will stop laying eggs.

Check your chicken waters to make sure they haven’t become clogged. This can be a real problem with waters that use droppers, they are easily clogged with sand or bits of dirt.

If you use a bucket or other larger container with a hose that leads into the water bowl check both the bucket and container could have a leak.

3. Lack Of Daylight

Another common reason for hens to stop laying is decreasing daylight hours.

Birds including chickens naturally start to lay eggs in the spring as the daylight hours are increasing. Likewise, they will slow down or stop laying as the daylight decreases in the fall.

If it’s late in the summer or fall and your chickens have started slowing down then this would be the first reason that would come to my mind.

At this point, you have 2 options. You can let the birds follow their natural cycle and stop or reduce egg laying over the fall and winter. If you would rather keep up egg production then you will need to start adding supplemental lighting in the coop.

4. Molting

When the daylight starts to decrease later in the year it will often trigger your chickens to molt.

This is a natural process where their old feathers fall out and new feathers grow in. But the process of regrowing so many feathers can be hard on the birds and they will stop laying eggs at this time.

Normally they won’t start laying again until the following spring.

5. Going Broody

If your hens are staying in their nest, fluffing up and squawking loudly when you come near there is a good chance they have gone broody.

This means they want to lay eggs and then sit on them until they’ve hatched.

Once they start sitting on their eggs they will stop laying more eggs. Their natural instinct will tell them that they have done their job of laying eggs to hatch out chicks and no more is needed this year.

6. Stress

Red chickens outside eating in the grass.

When chickens are stressed it can also cause them to slow down or stop laying eggs.

Stress can come from many areas, you could have added new birds to your flock and the pecking order has been upset.

A change in feed, lack of water, and extreme weather may also stress out birds.

Predators around your flock can also cause chickens stress and if it’s happening at night you might not easily notice it.

It could be you have rats getting into your coop or pen stealing feed, or larger animals like dogs or raccoons trying to get into the coop at night.

Look for any holes or cracks that predators could be getting in from and keep your birds closed up safely at night.

7. Eating Eggs

Sometimes when egg production goes down quickly you might assume that your hens have stopped laying but it could be another problem.

Sometimes chickens will start eating their own eggs and this often happens when you are not in the coop.

Check the nest boxes to see if the other eggs or straw is sticky and try collecting eggs earlier and more often during the day.

Make sure you are feeding the birds enough and that they have oyster shells available at all times. We’ve often found hens will start eating eggs because they want the calcium from the shells and it stops as soon as they are given oyster shells.

8. Breeds

Young red laying hen outside.

There are many breeds of chickens divided into 3 basic categories, meat breeds, laying breeds, and dual purpose breeds.

Out of these 3 groups, you will find many breeds within them each with different laying abilities.

A Leghorn can lay over 300 eggs per year while a Buff Orpington will lay about 220 eggs per year.

Learning what breed you have can help you understand if your birds are simply slowing down from the heavy spring egg production into their normal laying amount or if you have another problem.

9. Aging Birds

Hens will lay the most eggs in their first year and then start to slow down a little each year.

While older birds lay fewer eggs they do lay larger eggs. But if you find you aren’t getting enough for your family simply add some new laying hens to your flock.

10. Sickness

If you have young hens that are getting good food, lots of daylight, are not molting and you don’t see any signs of stress then it’s possible your birds could be sick.

There are many problems chickens can have from parasites, respiratory problems to stuck eggs.

Parasites could be worms, lice, or mites. If you watch your birds for a while you might notice they are scratching themselves a lot and just don’t look quite right.

If you suspect parasites you will need to identify what kind is the problem to treat the birds and coop.

Check your birds for colds or other respiratory problems by looking for wet nostrils, gummy eyes, and breathing problems. If you see any signs of colds remove infected birds from your flock to help keep it from spreading to your other birds.

Consulting with your veterinarian is the best way to correctly diagnose a problem and find the best solution for your flock.

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