How does a chicken know when to stop laying eggs?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Barrychicken, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. Barrychicken

    Barrychicken New Egg

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    When a chicken lays a 'clutch' of eggs it will stop laying. How does the chicken know it has laid enough eggs to stop? Can it count? How does it's body stop/resume egg production?
     
  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Do you mean laying eggs for hatching? My broodies usually store up 12 eggs, sometimes 13 before starting to sit. I guess they know to lay only enough eggs that they can cover comfortably.
    For laying in general, that depends on the season (in nature hens stop laying when conditions are not ideal to raise chicks, like in winter) and overall they stop laying when they run out of egg cells. A hen is born with a certain number of egg cells and when those are spent she will lay no more.
     
  3. rich2h

    rich2h New Egg

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    Jan 15, 2013
    Me chickens are a year old and not laying what can I do
     
  4. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    If your hens are a year old they should be laying and laying well. There are a few reasons why hens don't lay though. At the moment the most common cause the shorter days (most hens need about 14 hours a day to keep them in production). Things like incorrect feeding, stress, molting, broodiness and parasites and disease are also possible causes. Can you tell us a bit more abut them and your flock management?

    What are you feeding your hens? Are they getting layer food? The best food for laying hens is layer food or an all flock feed with extra calcium on the side, in the form of oystershell or crushed egg shell. If their nutritional requirements are no met they will not lay or they will lay weak shelled eggs.

    Have you dusted them and their coop for mites and lice and had you dewormed them at any stage? A parasite infestation can be hard on a hen and she won't lay if she's being eaten up by bugs.

    How long have you had them? If you only got them recently they may still be stressed from the move and will probably resume laying soon.

    Are they free ranging during the day? They may be laying, but not where you can find the eggs. Also is your coop safe from rats, mice and snakes and other animals that could be carrying off the eggs?
     
  5. Barrychicken

    Barrychicken New Egg

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    rich2h, don't hijack my thread.

    Thanks for the reply sumi. Am I correct in thinking that if humans stop taking eggs from the chicken it will eventually stop when it has laid a certain number of eggs? If so how does the chicken know when to stop laying?
     
  6. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    LOL!

    They may stop laying and go broody on the eggs, but they may not. I left eggs for some of my hens because I knew they were collecting a clutch for hatching. If they don't go broody they will just carry on laying until they have a pile of eggs and the eggs will end up going to waste if you don't collect it. If you don't want your hens to lay you'll have to reduce their light hours. That's the only way really.
     
  7. LukensFarms

    LukensFarms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They do decide when it is enough. For every chicken that may be a different number. I leave plastic Easter eggs in nest boxes to encourage broodiness. Some people leave golf balls. 8-10 for standard breeds and 5-7 for bantams. They may lay a few additional but this keeps them from getting a messy nest box full of broken eggs. Once they go broody exchange the fake eggs for real ones.
     

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