One of the joys of owning backyard chickens is having freshly laid eggs on your kitchen table. Yet, there may come a time when one or many of your chickens stop laying eggs. The reasons can be varied, ranging from age to more serious health concerns.
If your chickens stop laying eggs, then the first culprit is usually their diet. Hens require many nutrients in order to produce eggs, and calcium is the most important of all. If they’re lacking these nutrients, then they won’t be able to lay eggs, or their eggs may end up soft or shell-less. Try changing their feed or adding in supplements such as crushed oyster shells.
In order to lay eggs, your hens need plenty of daylight—at least 14-16 hours per day. This is easy enough during the warmer months, but it can be difficult during the shorter, colder days of fall and winter. If you want consistent egg production, then you can provide artificial light inside the coop. However, you may want to consider giving your hens some time off during the winter. This can give their bodies time to properly rest and recover for next year.
A broody hen is a chicken that has become obsessed with trying to hatch a clutch of eggs. They won’t bother laying new eggs, no matter how much feed or daylight you give them. If you have a broody hen, then follow these steps to break her of this habit.
Sometimes all it comes down to is age. Chickens begin laying eggs between 18-20 weeks, and they’ll continue producing throughout their lifetime. However, the number and frequency will begin to drop with each year. In other words, their first year of laying will be their most productive, and it’ll steadily decline as they get older.
Dirty Nest Box
Even if hens want to lay eggs, many of them won’t do it if they aren’t provided with clean nest boxes. You should clean out the nest boxes in your chicken coop regularly. They should be outfitted with fresh, comfortable bedding at all times, and you should replace the bedding once it starts to get worn down. You should also discourage your hens from using their nest boxes to sleep. Some hens will refuse to lay eggs in the same space where they rest at night, so encourage them to use their roosts to sleep instead of their nest boxes.
If none of the above reasons apply to your chickens, there are some other solutions you can use to get your chickens to lay their eggs.
Use “fake eggs” to entice your hens
There are some hens that need to be trained to lay eggs in their nest boxes. Many farmers have found that you can train them by purchasing fake ceramic eggs and placing them into your nest boxes so that hens know where to go when it’s time to lay eggs. This might sound a little silly at first, but many people who raise chickens have found that it actually works.
Leave your hens in their coop until the middle of the morning
Most hens prefer to lay their eggs at some point early in the morning. So if you allow them to leave their coop too early, you could actually hinder their ability to lay eggs. If you want to increase the chances of them laying eggs for you, you should make an effort to leave them in their coop until at least the middle of the morning. This will give them all the time they need to lay their eggs in their nest boxes.
Have further questions about why your chickens aren’t laying any eggs? Then feel free to contact us over at Chickens for Backyards today.