It’s been one month since we’ve had a hen lay an egg. ONE MONTH. I keep joking that we have a bunch of freeloaders on our hands. But I’ve asked myself almost daily, why are my hens not laying eggs? Although I know very well why, it’s just very frustrating. Fortunately, this isn’t a reason to panic. There are a lot of reasons why a hen stops laying, and it’s especially common in the late fall. Here are some reasons why your hens are not laying eggs.
Your Hens Diet is Lacking
Chickens need approximately 20 grams of protein per day. If the feed you have chosen is low in protein or lacks in well-rounded nutrition, your hens egg laying production will slow. Try a Layer Pellet or Layer Feed. This ensures proper nutrition for the hen to produce an egg. We also like to give our chickens healthy snacks like sunflower seeds and meal worms, both high in protein. If you free range your chickens, they should be getting this nutrition from various insects and plants, but should still have access to a healthy layer feed. Our favorite brand of layer feed is made by Scratch & Peck.
And of course, a hen needs access to clean water daily. It always amazes us how much our hens drink!
Your Hens Aren’t Laying Due to Shorter Days
Shortened daylight hours in the fall and winter is a huge factor as to why your hens are not laying. As daylight hours decrease, the hens decrease production. On average, a chicken needs 14 hours of daylight per day to produce an egg.
Although nothing replaces daylight, artificial light can be used in the coop and does work well to increase production. Some people prefer to give their hens a break in the winter as their production will resume to a very healthy cadence in the spring.
Your Hens Stopped Laying Eggs Because They’re Molting
Molting is the process in which a chicken loses and regrows her feathers. For some hens, it’s a rough process, leaving them with patchy bald spots. Molting occurs in the late summer and early fall in preparation for winter, and the result is new, fluffy, and thick feathers which are ideal for keeping the hen warm during the cold months. Some experts suggest that molting goes hand-in-hand with the decreased daylight hours because they happen at the same time of the year. If you ask me, that whole topic gets a bit chicken-and-egg. (See what I did there??)
Your Hen is Laying Less Eggs Because She’s Old
As a hen ages, her egg production decreases. It’s what some fondly refer to as “henopause”. This is perfectly natural and expected. You should get a good 3 years out of a hen before she slows down significantly.
Your Hen is Sick
If your chicken is well-fed, has access to 14 hours of daylight per day, and is well adjusted to her surroundings, she should be laying. If not, this could be a sign of illness. Types of illnesses include but are not limited to are parasites, colds, or digestive distress, such as sour crop.
Your Hen’s Routine Was Disrupted By Newcomers or Changes
Chickens are creatures of habit, and any disruption in routine can upset the schedule of the flock. This includes a new coop or home or adding new members of the flock. Once they figure things out and work out their pecking order with their new coop mate, the egg production should carry on as usual.
Your Hen Stopped Laying Because She’s Broody
Hens become broody when their biological clock is telling them it’s time to hatch some chicks. This generally occurs in the spring and summer. You’ll notice right away because your hen will start nesting and sitting on eggs, and will refrain from leaving her spot in the coop. The typical behavior of a broody hen includes sitting all day in a nesting box, becomes territorial (fluffs up feathers and growls when you come near), and sometimes pecking out her breast feathers which exposes her skin to keep the eggs warmer. Broody hens will remain broody until they hatch a chick, which takes approximately 21 days. There are ways to “break” your broody hen of her state to get her back to laying again.
Some Chicken Breeds Lay Less Eggs
Some chickens don’t lay as many eggs as others, and that’s just the way they are. Chickens like Rhode Island Reds, Leghorns, or Buff Orpingtons lay almost daily. Other hens like Silkies or Polish might lay only 4 times per week. When researching what hens to add to your flock, this should be taken into consideration.