Friday, October 3, 2008

What To Do If Your Chickens Stop Laying Eggs

Have your hens suddenly stopped laying eggs for no apparent reason? This happens occasionally and there are several things you can do to encourage your chickens to begin laying eggs again:

1. Be sure your hens have adequate water and feed. Your chickens need fresh, clean water at all times. Feed your chickens layer pellet or layer crumble (available at feed stores) as this specially formulated feed will give your hens the nutritional support they need in order to produce eggs. If you are giving your hens layer pellet or layer crumble, but are also giving them a lot of scratch (cracked corn) or kitchen scraps, cut back on the scratch and scraps for awhile and feed them the layer pellet or layer crumble exclusively.

2. Put a light in your chicken coop and set it with a timer so that your hens have at least fourteen hours of light a day. A heat lamp in the chicken coop works great in the winter and a simple light bulb works well in warmer weather. If your hens are not getting enough daylight, they will not lay eggs.

3. Leave a decoy egg in your hens' nesting box. Use a wooden egg or leave one or more hen eggs in the nesting box and the hens will be more likely to want to lay and/or brood if there are already eggs in a particular box. Choose the nesting box that is in the darkest part of the coop, as this is usually the favorite box.

4. Make sure that your flock is not overly stressed in any way. If your chickens are crowded or are constantly fighting, you might consider creating two flocks to reduce the fighting and stress. Also make sure that your chickens do not have any diseases that might effect egg production.

5. If your chickens are molting or the weather has changed drastically, then egg production will taper off or your hens may quit laying eggs completely. This is normal and your chickens should begin laying eggs again after several weeks.

6. If you have rats, ground squirrels or weasels, there is a possibility that these animals are stealing your hens' eggs. Your chicken coop should be animal/rodent proof.

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Bo Horton said...

Before buying fake nesting eggs, give stones a try.

After I moved the coop, I had problems getting my chickens to lay where I wanted them and decided to test a hunch before I spent money for fake eggs.

I put a couple of egg sized smooth round stones in their nesting box and never had a problem since. They don't really have to be very egg shaped, just round. I'm not sure if shade or color is an issue but I doubt it.

My neighbor and I were going to try plastic easter eggs before buying fake nesting eggs but the stones work, and probably feel more like genuine eggs to the hens. Hens are really much smarter than we give them credit for.

I suspect the hens are humoring me because they scratch nesting material over the stone "eggs" and lay fresh ones on top. But hey, now they leave all their eggs where I can find them instead of hiding them in weird and hard to reach places.

All it takes is overlooking an egg or two long enough to for them to get funky. And then "experience" the aroma of a rotten egg, or worse a rotter cracked into something you're cooking. Ruined food is bad enough but it takes me a week or so to recover appetite for eggs.

Give stones a try before popping for nesting eggs.

The Farmer's Wife said...

A friend of mine suggested a golf ball in each nesting box. That did the trick. When we took the golf balls out they layed elsewhere so we just leave them in the boxes now.