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Top 4 Reasons Why Chickens Not Laying

One of the most common questions many backyard farmers ask is, why has egg production decreased? This article will give you the answers to Top 4 Reasons Why Chickens Not Laying.

Hens molt on average once per year. Molting is a natural process. It sheds old feathers to make way for new ones. This can be like a vacation period for laying eggs and may take several weeks. Older hens may take longer and molt more often. These older girls become freeloaders and get to a point where egg production completely stops. Especially so for commercial layers. But let's not be too hard on the Older Birds. They have done a great job providing our family with eggs for many years.

Daylight hours are important to consider. Hens need around 14 hours of daylight to maintain good egg production. Most backyard hens are exposed to only natural light. This contributes to a decline in egg production during Autumn and also Winter. As Spring sets in, production generally returns to normal. If you want your girls to lay eggs during cooler months with shorter days, then you will need to provide additional lighting.  One option is a 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.

Keep in mind the age of your Birds. Production declines as they age. 

But what if it isn't Molting. What if they are younger birds with plenty of daylight in the Middle of Summer. We have put together the Top 4 Reasons Why Chickens Not Laying to cover other reasons apart from Molting and Daylight. And here they are:

Top 4 Reasons Why Chickens Not Laying

  • Chickens are hiding the eggs.

This is a funny and rather common occurrence. You provide a beautiful nesting box and they don't use it. Instead they find their own special place. This could be a plant pot or a dark little posy in behind the garden shed. This assumes here that your girls are free ranging. If they are secure in a chicken coop, then this won’t be the case. Have you considered a predator could be stealing the eggs. Another reason could be your hens have developed a taste for them and are eating them.

  •    Health Problems of Chickens

Sadly, this is fairly common. And while I hate to get to involved with the discussion of what chicken keepers feed their chooks, I see an ever-increasing number of people feeding their chooks masses of scraps and things like canned tuna without truly understanding the nutritional requirements of a modern laying hen.

Feed companies employ specialist animal nutrition experts.  They develop and continually improve feed based on what a bird requires to be optimally healthy. When we alternate the food source other than this specially developed diet, we dilute the nutritional intake Hens need to remain productive. If I could offer one piece of advice, I have learnt in the 10 or so years keeping my own poultry, buy the best quality complete feed you can afford. Supplement this feed with a highly beneficial mineral supplement such as our Mega Mineral or Dried Meal Worms. If you would like to feed your girls greens, grow them fresh in your garden. Go organic so it's naturally free from herbicides and pesticides. Consider trying our gourmet greens which are very easy to grow. Health Problems are certainly Number One in our Top 4 Reasons Why Chickens Not Laying.

  • Accidental Flock Mismanagement

Common Accidental flock mismanagement – The common causes here are heat stress, Limited or no available feed supply or running out of fresh water. Unfortunately, the heat stress is often unavoidable, the second two are inexcusable if you forget. Lack of fresh feed and water is a part of why we developed the Dine a Chook feeders and drinkers. Water should be free of contaminants such as dirt and algae and a complete feed should be available always. Hens should never be feed periodically or only at certain times of the day. Ensure that both feed and water are available at all times throughout the day.

Over crowding is more common than it should be. If you don’t have the space, just keep a couple of hens. Be mindful of buying a small chicken coop and keeping too many birds in it.

Less Common Accidental flock mismanagement – this may include nutritional deficiencies. Also, should feed become wet or even just damp, then moldy feed could be a consideration. Our Chicken Feeders do an exceptional job at keeping your chickens feed high and dry.

Rare flock mismanagement causes – this may include the incorrect use of medication or off label misuse of products such as Ivermectin. While Ivermectin may have its place in the management of some poultry treatments, personally I have never had the need for its use. Quite often talk to customers that have been poorly informed and often use such a product with very little understanding of the effects it may cause. If you’re not sure, don’t use it! Other causes in this category may be pesticide toxicity caused by access to crops that have been chemically sprayed or maybe a plant toxin from something that they should not have eaten.

Bacteria or Viruses

Common Causes – Fowl Pox, Newcastle disease, Mycoplasmosis, Infectious Coryza, Infectious bronchitis.

Less Common Causes – Avian encephalomyelitis

Rare Causes – Avian influenza, Fowl cholera


Common Causes – Poultry mites and lice

Less Common Causes – Coccidiosis, Heavy infestations with roundworms, threadworms or tape worms.

Rare Causes – Fleas

  • Chicken Feed and water

A relaxed hen is much more likely to lay an egg as opposed to a hen that is under stress. Imagine the stress that you would be under if you could not find fresh food or more so if you couldn’t find fresh water. This is such an obvious consideration, and this is why thousands of customers have invested in our feeders and waterers. It is vital that you ensure that your birds always have access to fresh water and feed. There are many reasons why poorly designed feeders and drinkers fail, most commonly though its comes down to spillage and spoiling of water or quite often we hear from customers that have used imported treadle feeders. Treadle feeders have mechanical moving components which due to the cheapness of the hardware used in the manufacture process, lead to with the lid remaining open and therefore exposure to weather and pests such as rodents and pest birds. Once pest birds learn where the feed is, they fly in once the chooks open the lid and often don't make it back out before the lid closes. You can only guess what happens to that bird now.

Try to keep your chooks comfortable during hot weather. In commercial poultry farms, they utilize massive ventilation systems and misting systems. I have heard of customers using fine mist sprays that switch on automatically during the hottest part of the day to give their chooks some welcome relief.

Another consideration is the upset caused by introducing new birds. Do you remember your early school days when you were the new kid in class? I know you weren’t going to lay an egg but emotionally you were off your game. This also happens to both newly introduced chickens and those that have been long term residents. Once they become comfortable with each other then this generally becomes less of an issue.

Physical examination

Don’t be afraid to pick your chooks up and get to know them. Also, be mindful to listen out for any unusual noises sneezing or coughing which could be early signs of a respiratory disease. Discharge from the nostrils or weeping from their eyes is also a sign of illness and should be addresses as soon as possible.

Pay close attention to any scabs on their face which could be a sign of fowl pox

We hope our Top 4 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.