Why Do Hens Stop Laying Eggs? Nine Reasons Hens Stop Laying Eggs

It can be quite alarming when a poultry owner gets a consistent five eggs, daily, from five hens, only to find just one egg for a few days. This sudden drop in egg laying takes us all into detective mode – are they hiding the eggs? Are they sick?

Below you’ll find some of the most common reasons for decreased egg production to put your mind at ease and hopefully get your girls laying consistently again.

Why do hens stop laying eggs?

  1. Molt. At 15-18 months of age, and every year thereafter, chickens will replace their feathers. Feathers will fall out to make room for new feather growth. During this time, hens will stop laying eggs.
  2. Lighting. Chickens need about 15-16 hours of light per day to produce eggs. The first year, most laying breeds will lay through the winter without artificial lighting.
  3. Too many goodies. Think of kids, if you unleashed your kids at a buffet, and told them they could get whatever they want, most would load up at the dessert table. Your girls will do the same thing, filling up on bread, table scraps etc. they may not be getting what they need to produce eggs. This is usually a slowdown, more than a stoppage.
  4. Too much lovin’. One rooster can easily handle 12-18 hens. If this ratio is too low, he will over mount the girls and bare patches will appear on their backs and the backs of their heads. This stress can drop them out of production.
  5. Dehydration. It doesn’t take much water deprivation, especially in hot weather, to take your hens right out of production. Many times alpha hens will not allow submissive hens (bottom of the pecking order) to drink. They are attempting to “vote them off the island”, but the first thing that will happen is an egg stoppage. We recommend adding water stations during warm weather.
  6. Any undue stress. Maybe the coop is secure, but they are still being harassed by raccoons, neighbor’s dogs, or other predators.
  7. Egg eating by the hens, or theft by 2 or 4 legged scoundrels! They may be laying, but the wrong critter is getting the eggs. Believe it or not, human egg stealing is more common than people think – I’ve even seen it on a game camera.
  8. Change in the pecking order. Adding new hens, a new rooster or removing a hen can cause a power void and/or drama. Drama=stress=egg production drop
  9. Illnesses/parasites. The reasons above may likely be the cause but parasites or illness can also cause stress on a hen.

We’ve got a whole section on our blog dedicated to diseases and disorders of chickens.

5 Replies to “Why Do Hens Stop Laying Eggs? Nine Reasons Hens Stop Laying Eggs”

  1. I love the Nutrena Feather Fixer for my hens. I switched to it about 2 years ago when my chickens were slow molting. They love this feed and although it is a tiny bit more expensive , I believe it pays off in the long run. My hens look beautiful all year! they molt fast and they don’t seem to be so stressed by molting. Also, they lay consistently! I think the extra protein in the Feather Fixer gives them an easier time of producing those beautiful eggs! I have tried to switch back to other layer rations and I can tell it is not working as well.

    1. Hi Shon,
      Thanks so much for the comment! We are so pleased to hear that Feather Fixer is working well for you! It is success stories like this, that fuel our passion. Thanks again for sharing!

  2. i need to know if I can keep one of my older hens and mix it with my new ones when they are old enought to do so.

  3. The human egg stealing actually made me “LOL”. It is very true. If you have a small poultry farm or hutches filled with egg laying poultry animals such as chickens, you might want to install a CCTV to keep watch of what it is happening. Most of the time you will see other type of critters and foreign animals stealing your chicken eggs but there are lots of video evidence that points to a person stealing an egg. It is nice that you have included it in your list! Kudos! Godbless!

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