Hens suddenly stopped laying?


In the Brooder
11 Years
Dec 13, 2008
Ok, so I have 3 Comet hens and 5 Brown Leghorns. Other than one Americauna (Or some mutt) Rooster, they have a whole henhouse to themselves. They have not gone outside for almost 5 months now (It has been brutally cold), but I have lamps on them all the time (2 red heat lamps and one white heat lamp) So they have continued to lay. They were being fed a 14% layer feed, as well as free choice oyster shell. Obviously they have water. Recently, however, we have run out of Layer feed, so they are just getting cracked corn. They also were out of water for a day or so, but this has happened before.

We were getting about 6-7 eggs a day, but suddenly a few days ago we dropped down to one egg/ day. What could have caused this?

I don't think that we have an egg eater- although whenever I pick up an egg they all come running over and look at it longingly, they never have shown any intrest in eggs as food items before, until I have them in my hand. (Yes, I have fed them frozen-cracked eggs before, shame on me) Also, there are no shell fragments or yolk smears, either on the floor or on their beaks.
They do not appear to be moulting either.
I have not changed their lighting conditions.
There might be external parasites in there, as we but a peacock in there for a few of the coldest days a few months back and after we noticed he had these little light tan bugs crawling around his head. We bed with straw, so I wouldn't be surprised (We do mean to dust them with this powder we have to kill external parasites on birds) But this wouldn't cause them to all stop laying at the same time, would it?

Any ideas? They all appear healthy. I would really like to figure out how to fix it- or atleast figure out what is going on-we have a customer who is wondering where his eggs are.

Thanks in advance.


In the Brooder
11 Years
Feb 24, 2008
The only thing i can think of is to dust them but i am not sure if it would redose the egg laying even more or not.

Personly i would dust them.



13 Years
Dec 12, 2007
ID/WA border
a 14% layer feed

That is a low-protein layer feed.

we have run out of Layer feed, so they are just getting cracked corn

Very low protein feed and a big change.

They also were out of water for a day or so


but this has happened before.

Double yikes!

Yes, I have fed them frozen-cracked eggs before, shame on me

Okay, shame shame!

There might be external parasites in there . . . bugs crawling around his head . . . But this wouldn't cause them to all stop laying at the same time, would it?

Maybe not, but the combination of things . . .



11 Years
Nov 15, 2008
North Pole, Ak
Corn does not have enough nutrition in it for your chickens to lay eggs. Many, many years ago, corn had a much higher protein level in it, but not so, now. Your chickens need enough protein to lay eggs, or they will not lay well. Water is extremely important. I can't remember the exact amounts, but for every hour they are out of water, it is like 4 hours of not laying any eggs. Eggs are good for them. I feed my chickens scrambled quail eggs along with their other layer feed, etc. every other day to help promote egg laying in the winter. The amount of eggs that comes from the additional protein particularly in winter is amazing. You will find that they will start laying again very quickly, but they also need the nutrition from the layer feed. You need to get the layer feed. Corn is not enough.


In the Brooder
11 Years
Jun 23, 2008
Virginia Beach
Lots of good thoughts here. I've been reading all the posts and advice on non-laying chickens because our hens, too, have stopped laying over the last month.

Our three young hens began laying at the beginning of spring when the weather thawed and continued laying even through a couple of very cold spells. Suddenly, all egg production stopped. Now we are getting an occasional egg - one at a time. Our hens are confined to a large coop and run, no eggs seem to be hidden anywhere.

We had an egg-eating hen in the past but were able to figure that out from the broken yolk remains in the straw in the nest (the "goo" that leaked down into the straw). No signs of that.

We've had real problems in the past with black snakes eating eggs (I once went out to the coop at night and found a six-footer curled up UNDER a brooding hen with an egg in it's mouth) and we are checking for this - but usually there are eggs in the nest during the day and I'm not finding any.

Our chickens are fed laying mash (pellets), some cracked corn for fun and scratching around), greens from the surrounding areas (and occasional forays out to "graze" before bedtime) and some people scraps - especially veggie peelings and such.

I have had a lamp on in the coop 24/7 to add a bit of security (snake deterrent) - one of those little coiled flourescent bulbs - it doesn't seem to bother them at night, and they were laying quite happily so I don't think that is the problem but I could certainly turn it off if y'all think it's now having an effect for some reason.

I have not dusted the birds, but haven't observed mites or parasites. The seem healthy and energetic, just not LAYING. Mr. Chicken, our little rooster, is getting amorous - yes, it's spring! - but I'd think that would encourage the girls, not discourage them. He doesn't cause them any damage (actually, he doesn't cause anything - they are standard breeds and he's a banty!!) (Yeah, but you should see that boy jump!)

Anyhoooo, I'm just baffled and hoping for more ideas. Can't figure out why the girl would've started out so well and then just ..... trickled out. I feel some better just knowing there are others out there with the same mystery.


Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
South Georgia
You could try the cayenne pepper approach. It's getting much warmer here but mine have also recently slowed down. It's on my shopping list.


Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
May 14, 2008
North Phoenix
My Coop
My Coop
ours quit the first of the month... went from 10 a day down to 3. We are now back up to 6 a day but the reason ours quit is because they got sick.

Finally they are all almost better.... just wish I could get them to start laying more again.


In the Brooder
11 Years
Jun 23, 2008
Virginia Beach
Mahonri, I'll be every wife on here loves your signature line!

What happened that made your chickens sick?

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