Help-my hens won't eat


12 Years
Jun 25, 2007
My 3 hens stopped laying. I haven't gotten an egg for 7-10 days. I think they are molting but they won't eat.

They suddenly stopped eating their layer pellets. I thought maybe the pellets were bad so I got a new batch. They are still not eating the pellets but will eat any sunflower seeds or bread I throw out.

DEo you think they could be suddenly eating their eggs and that's why they are no longer eating pellets?

I have 3 chickens in this coop:
free range and forage in a large grass area all day.
I clean the coop every 10 days.
I always take any eggs out every night and never leave them in coop until the next day.

What is going on? Please help!
If my hens are anything to go by, hens hate layer pellets.
As yours are moulting and don't need so much protein as they are not egg laying they are probably leaving off the food that they like least....the layers.
If they are taking treats and have good forage when they are free ranging they will be fine. My hens never have layers pellets and normally lay well throughout the year.

It sounds like they are getting plenty of other things to eat so they are not eating their pellets. If you give a chicken between pellets and scratch they will not eat the pellets usually. So with the sunflower seeds, bread, and free ranging they probably are just choosing not to eat the pellets. As for no laying, it could be molting or the change in daylight hours.
Our girls were free ranged all day for about a month and didn't eat much layer feed ... they're eating more layer feed now that they only free range for an hour or two daily and I usually throw out a handfull of sunflower seed in the morning to keep them busy ... could they be laying eggs somewhere out of sight??
Can I suggest that you add hot water, cut up grapes and some grass in it. My birds will jump through hoops for sweets, then adding grass to it will make it appealing. As they get accustomed to the taste, add less and less water to it until they learn that the pellets are food.
The hot feed is something that I give my girls as a "treat" daily in the winter because its warmth and also to get the needed water and feed into them, also a few extra carbs to have the energy to moult and grow feathers.
Good luck
out of sight laying may be the case but it seems so short of a time period to lay for all of em and you not find an egg.... sounds like easter comes early and an egg hunt is in need, good luck with em!
When they are molting, they normally quit or greatly cut back on laying. You may get some eggs but I am not at all surprised that you are not getting eggs if they are molting.

It is possible they have a hidden nest. Try locking them in the coop or coop and run for a couple of days to see if you get an egg. That could mean they are laying elsewhere or that a predator is coming in and eating the eggs. If you lock the chickens in, you may be locking the predator out. Dogs and humans are my top suspects for eggs that regularly go missing during the day, but it could be something else.

When hens quit laying, they are no longer laying an egg that is 2% to 3% of their body weight. They don't need to eat as much, especially calcium but also protein. They still need protein to replace the feathers they are losing, but they are in a different stage of life. Conditions have changed so the way they act will change. I have some pullets that are laying and some grown hens that are molting. They free range all day long. I'm feeding Grower crumbles with oyster shell on the side instead of the normal Layer pellets since I also have some young chickens eating with the flock. The molting hens do not crowd the feed bucket like the laying pullets. The molting hens still eat some of the Grower crumbles but not as much as the laying pullets. It is possible that something frightened them in their feeder and they don't trust it. Maybe a snake was in there (which could be what is eating the eggs) and they were frightened away, but I really doubt it. If they were hungry they would probably go back to eating the feed. It is Fall. Some plants are going to seed. Maybe they found something to eat they like better than the pellets. Maybe they realize the pellets have more calcium in them than they need, but I don't really believe that one. I don't think they are that good. You maybe feeding them too many sunflower seeds and other treats. If they are healthy, I would not worry too much about how much Layer they are eating. There can be many different reasons.

Mine actually prefer the pellets over the crumbles, but they will eat the crumbles when they don't have any pellets. I seriously doubt they would stop eating pellets if they are eating eggs. The eggs really don't have enough nutrients in them for them to stop eating other things.

I don't know what is going on with yours. I think they are molting, which is perfectly normal. I think the season is changing and their habits are going to change some. If their behavior changes it is good to notice and try to figure out what is going on. But if they are healthy, I would not worry about it too much.
Thanks for all the replies.

I'll try to answer some questions for you guys.

They have always eaten the pellets-no problem. They just suddenly stopped eating them within the last week or so.

They they have had the same living/feed arrangements since they were put out there as young chicks.

I always gave the seeds, leftover bread, and stuff and they always cleaned up their pellets. This is the first time they have stopped eating in 1 1/2 years.

I checked everywhere for another egg pile and there is none.

Is it weird for all 3 to stop laying at the same time?

Could something be stealing the eggs every day before I collect at night?

This is so weird.........

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