Chicken not laying...should I be worried?


10 Years
Jan 12, 2010
Anderson, CA
I have a BR that is almost 1 yr old. She has been laying regularly since Feb. or Mar. All my chickens free range. This last week I have not found any eggs from her. She is my only standard size hen so it is easy to find her eggs. Should I be worried? I realize that she could be laying somewhere in the yard and I can't find them, but she has always had a few favorite spots and no eggs to be found. When a hen becomes an internal layer how long do they go without laying an egg before symptoms develop? She acts perfectly fine, no signs that anything might be wrong, I just want to know...just in case. When do chickens usually have their first molt and how long does it take? They don't lay during molt do they?
Don't worry, it's normal for hens to take a break, from time to time. There can be a LOT of reasons why, but it's often just a temporary time off. My hen just laid an egg today - after not laying for almost a week. There seemed to be no reason for the stop - she's just over a year old and has laid very consistently, since she started last October. She's healthy, eating well, is active, etc. No apparent stresses, either. Just stopped, and then started again. I'm chalking it up to a "maintenance break" for her egg-producing glands.

If she had looked or acted sick, I would have been more worried.
About the other questions, they usually have their first big molt at about 18 months old. Lots of hens don't lay during molt. Some do, though. The molt is hard on them. Better that they don't lay during that time, to conserve nutrition for re-feathering. Different hens take different amounts of time to molt. Some gradually, some all at once. Giving them extra protein, during the molt, can help ease the process and speed it up for them. A small handful of black oil sunflower seeds, with the shells on, is also great for them during a molt.

I don't know anything about internal layers.
Thank you for the reassurances. I was thinking of locking her up in the goat corral during the day but I was afraid that that would stress her out. She has always had free run of the pasture and sleeps with the goats at night. Sometimes she will go and lay her egg in the nest box in the coop but usually it is under the hay manger or in one of the buckets that I feed hay from. I don't think that she knows she is a chicken
I have searched all her normal places for about 2 weeks now and haven't found an egg. I have a cornish bantam that lays for me almost every day and the 2 usually lay their eggs in the same spot that day. I have found the bantams eggs, but not the BR.

Hopefully it is just a break. I have lost a few chickens to Marek's in the last 6 months so I know that is always a possibility and that maybe this is the beginning of the end so to speak. But I wanted to know if healthy birds ever just took a break for no particular reason. I hope that she is not getting sick.
Ahhh then again, she might be laying a clutch of eggs somewhere really hidden. ?? If her body is getting ready to be broody, that is, she may be doing that, and eventually you'd be searching for her, too. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to lock her inside, with another buddy for the day. Yes, it will stress her out. Give her something interesting to scratch, like a rotten log or give them both a flock block to peck at. If she lays in there, you will have your answer.
She comes into the coop in the AM and checks out the nest boxes for about a minute and then leaves. I searched the pasture last night and didn't find anything. The goats make sure there are no low bushes left around the place so it is fairly open other than grass and limbed up oak trees. I think this weekend I will lock her in the coop for the day and see what happens. There is a flock block in there that no one has discovered yet (this time), so maybe that will keep her busy.

She really has no buddies as my other 2 adult hens are banties and have their little flock, and my partially grown birds are Columbian Wyandottes, and they have their flock. She hangs with the goats at night, but during the day she is pretty much a loner and chases off any chicken who gets too close. She even chases the Wyandotte roos.

I miss her eggs, and I don't want her to be sick so I hope she lays again. But either way she will always be my pet.
If she's getting broody, she might even have flown over a fence or two, to lay in a really hidden nest. Here are a couple threads about hidden nests, and a hiding broody:

My experience...11 eggs were once hiding in a nest under the henhouse, with a gap less than 5" high! They had to be raked out, very carefully. (large breed hen) Anything that LOOKS too small for your big hen....isn't.

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