Top 6 - Why Chickens not laying
So you've been scratching your head wondering what on earth is going wrong. You wonder before asking Dr. Google, "Why Chickens not laying?" .
It is one of the most common queries we get here at Dine A Chook from our thousands of newsletter subscribers. And while they may not have completely stopped laying, you have noticed your morning omelette is getting smaller in size. So let's get cracking and give you some answers
Reasons why hens not laying eggs
Q. Are they Moulting?
A. On average a hen will moult once each year. It is part of their natural process. During a period of moulting, a chicken shall shed its older feathers to make way for new ones. How great is that. I'd love to get rid of some of my grey hairs and grown some new ones. When a hen moults, she will take some well deserved "me time" and for a few weeks stop laying. Also, older hens moult more frequently and they take a longer time to do so until eventually they completely cease to lay eggs. But treat the old girls with respect, after all the countless eggs they have served.
Q. Are they getting enough sun?
A. You may not be aware of it, but sunlight is essential for a hen to lay eggs. A hen requires up to 14 hours of exposure to sunlight a day. Without sunlight for backyard chickens, you will find it hard to have good egg production. So in months where daylight is shorter such as Autumn and Winter months, it is natural to see a decline. Come Spring, chickens get a stride back in their step and have a renewed zest for laying. If you want your ladies to lay eggs during cooler months with shorter days, then you will need to provide additional lighting. One option is solar powered shed light on a timer. This will allow the hens to receive a few extra hours of light prior to sunrise. A warm spectrum fluorescent bulb works best.
But what if it isn't Molting. What if your hens are young and have ample daylight? What if its the middle of summer?
Q. Are your Chickens are hiding the eggs?
A. While this sounds crazy, it is very common. You go to all the effort of making a lovely nesting box, and they have a different idea of where they want to nest. Go figure. They find their own special place. This could be a plant pot or a dark little posy in behind the garden shed. Some like to go under the coop if room allows. Some in a tall tuft of grass. So put on your Indiana Jones outfit and do some exploring to see if this is happening. This circumstance assumes you have free-range chickens which are not in an enclosure where there are no great hiding spots. For chickens, this behaviour is known as a Broody Hen. If your girls are in a Coop, they could also have developed a taste for the eggs and are eating them.
Q. Is there a nutrition problem?
It's like the old saying, you are what you eat. Take a moment to consider what you feed your chickens. If you are giving them scraps as well as things like canned tuna then you really do not understand the nutritional requirements of chickens.
In the wild, chickens forage for insects, grubs and other juicy morsels which are full of protein. They will also eat certain fruits and unlike young children they love their greens. So the natural diet consumed in the wild is very high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Last time we checked, most chickens in the wild do not forage the grass or scrub for Tuna fish.
Seed or mixed seed feed mix for chickens while cheap is not healthy for chickens. We have written a number of articles on this topic.
Chicken Breeders, as well as Vets, recommend a Quality Mash or Pellet feed. These types of feed are formulated to provide laying chickens with all the nutrients they need for their health and wellbeing. Feed companies employ specialist animal nutrition experts. Also, the nutritional value of complete feeds like mash and pellet feed is lessened when chooks eat scraps and other things. Why? Because if a chook is full on other sources of food then they are not getting the nutrients from the complete feed.
Vitamin D as well as Calcium deficiency can lead to egg-binding in the chicken. An egg-bound chook ends up unable to lay the egg as it gets stuck in the oviduct. Egg-binding can lead to fatality within two days if untreated. Learn more about egg-binding if your chicken has stopped laying.
Lastly, while on the topic of nutrition, there is no harm in helping boost your chicken's immune system to help prevent or lessen the effects of illness when it may strike the coop. You can do this by feeding your hens some dried mealworms as well as things like Bok Choy, Legumes and Green beans. Also, a popular choice for backyard chicken keepers is Dine A Chook Mega Mineral Supplement. Our Mega Mineral is a seaweed based formula which can be easily administered through in the drinking water. Rich in calcium, our Vitamin and Mineral Supplement can help prevent chicken binding. To make the water a little nicer to drink, add some honey to the water and your chickens will drink all their vitamins and minerals very happily.
Q. Is you chicken sick or suffering disease?
A. So you don't have to be Albert Eggstein to work out poor health will impact on egg output. We have outlined below the main types of sicknesses which can lower egg production in chickens. Many illnesses can be treated quickly to get egg production starting back up again. Also, many can be prevented. Simply click on visible links to go to a comprehensive article about that disease. Alternatively see our Symptom Checker to help find out way may be wrong.
Bacterial or Viral Chicken illness
- Common Causes – Fowl Pox, Newcastle disease, Mycoplasmosis, Infectious Coryza, Infectious bronchitis. Chicken Respiratory Disease
- Less Common Causes – Avian encephalomyelitis
- Rare Causes – Avian influenza, Fowl cholera
Parasites, Mice and Lice related illness
- Common Causes – Poultry mites and lice
- Less Common Causes – Coccidiosis, Heavy infestations with roundworms, threadworms or tapeworms
- Rare Causes – Fleas
Q. Are my chickens stressed?
A. Anxiety and stress can without question, cause a decrease in egg output.. Ask yourself the following questions to work out if your chicken is suffering from these common stresses in the coop.
Common causes of Stress to chickens
- Dirty or contaminated drinking water - see how to fix
- Wet or mouldy chicken feed
- Moisture or rising damp in the chicken coop
- Not enough nesting boxes
- Not enough roosting space or the coop is too cramped
- Not enough room in the chook pen
- Overcrowding in general
- Limited access to fresh water - i.e. not enough chicken drinkers
- Not enough shade leads to heat stress
- Not enough ventilation in coop leads to heat stress.
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We hope our Top 6 Reasons Why Chickens Not Laying has been of help to you. If there is a topic you would like us to write about send us an email via the Contact us page.