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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