Hens on laying strike


10 Years
Jul 20, 2009
Hey, all. I joined the forum a few months ago but this is my first real post.

I'm not too well-versed in everything about chickens, but my wife and I keep a handful of hens in our backyard and have had them for a couple of years. Until this spring, they all had been laying; between the five of them, we'd average 3 or so eggs a day.

But with the exception of our Silkie, who still lays once or twice a week, the rest of them completely stopped laying in March and haven't picked up since. None of them are more than 3 years old so I can't believe they're done producing eggs yet. We can't figure out what happened.

Some background: They have a roomy converted shed as a henhouse and a decent-sized fenced run outside that; they eat what seems like a standard Poultry Layer chicken feed with some oyster shell mixed in, supplemented by some cracked corn and kitchen scraps as snacks; they usually roam the fenced back yard during the day but go into their coop at night; we have a dog and a cat but they get along fine with the chickens and we've never had problems.

One thing that might have had something to do with it: Last winter we got a handful of new chicks and raised them indoors till they seemed big enough to join the others in the coop. There were four to start with, but the older hens killed two of them. So, we added a separate fenced-off area in the henhouse where the surviving two could live. Once they grew big enough to defend themselves we intermingled them again and things were better. It turned out, though, that one of them was a rooster. We ended up giving the two of them away because we live in the city and can't have a rooster, and we didn't want to separate the two of them. That was right when the original hens stopped laying. We have wondered if the social upheaval may have somehow stressed them out or damaged their group dynamic.

So ... any ideas on why our girls aren't laying? I've read that problems with lighting, diet or stress (from predators, etc.) can cause chickens to stop laying, but I don't really think we have issues with any of those three.

Not laying at all since March? Sounds like you are doing everything just fine.
Any social upheavel should be forgotten about by now. And even if they were three years old you would expect a few eggs between March and now.
Only one thing comes to mind. They're free ranging in your yard. Have you absolutely torn the yard apart looking for a hidden nest? They can be pretty sneaky. One BYCer found a big stash of eggs under a lawnmower that had been tarped for a good long while.
Sorry, I don't have any other suggestions.
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Thanks for the ideas. I've looked somewhat exhaustively around the yard, but I may have missed some nooks and crannies, like under our deck (which we believe is chicken-proofed so they can't get under there, but maybe they're getting past our defenses somehow). As for predators, the henhouse is tightly sealed enough that nothing big can get in there, but there have been mice in there in the past and this morning I caught a chipmunk in there. I don't think any of those could carry away eggs, though.

I guess when winter comes and they stop going out into the yard, we'll answer the question of whether they've been laying somewhere outdoors while they're free-ranging.
I posted this somewhere else, but it looks like I need to find the right category to find answers!I have a similar problem I have 25 hens, of which 12 have been laying nicely for th epast year (they are 1 1/2) Ive covered the basics-no mites/lice, good feed, no moulters, no major changes, but out my 12 layers (the others are just 4 months old) Ill get 11 eggs one day, the 3 eggs, then 9 eggs then 1 egg. Makes no sense to me....Ive tried upping the protein, at another chicken persons suggestion, added scrambled duck eggs and some dried stinging nettle crumbles....increased after that, but I cant feed that every day! If they have free access to their food(16-17%) and are ranged to forage, shouldnt their protein intake be adequate? (Hope you dont mind me jumping in too!)

Some of your breeds may not be daily layers. Also, the same thing about free ranging. They can be awful sneaky about hiding their eggs.
My gang really went down on their laying before I ever saw signs of the molt. It's that time of year and they are at the right age for it (18 months).
Are you offering oyster shell?
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Yes they have oystershell, and I was hoping it WASNT the breeds that was the problem ( my husband said..Oh just get some @#$!%$!! chickens that will lay eggs every day, but I didnt want clones that my kids -2&5 -couldnt tell apart...so I ordered 2 of everything neat looking!
Sounds like it wouldn't hurt too keep them in lock down with a padlock on the door and nest boxes. That way you can know for sure that they are/aren't laying and if there are some two legged preditors having omlets instead of you.
If you haven't had any or few eggs since march than I agree with the other posts about egg snatching predators. Also it's possible about hens being egg eaters. I've seens posts where people sprinkle either flour or baby powder (can't remeber which) on the ground all around the coop to see if there are any tracks the next day, whether it be human or snake etc. Also I've read that chipmunks will eat eggs. (and shell?) And it is possible that they lay in the yard and something will eat the eggs before you go looking. Last but not least, your chickens have become "freeloaders"!
I have some freeloaders but I love them anyway! Just get more if you're wanting eggs. Otherwise they are just wonderful pets!
omelette'smom :

I've seens posts where people sprinkle either flour or baby powder (can't remeber which)

Either will work -- basically anything that'll register tracks.​

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