Sponsored Post Mystery solved: Why hens stop laying eggs

sumi

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Fewer eggs may be a result of changing season, age, environment and other factors.

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If you’re a backyard chicken raiser, you’ve become accustomed to your morning routine: Wake up. Drink coffee. Collect farm fresh eggs from your backyard flock. As the days become shorter and temperatures drop, you may notice fewer eggs when you go out to the chicken coop. It may have you wondering, “Why won’t my chickens lay eggs?”

“Under ideal conditions, chickens will lay an egg once every 24 to 26 hours,” says Patrick Biggs, Ph.D., a flock nutritionist for Purina Animal Nutrition. “Hens might take a short vacation from laying eggs and the reasons range from life stage to when the sun rises and sets. Some of these reasons are natural while others can be fixed with simple changes. It’s up to us as flock raisers to solve the mystery of why farm fresh eggs might be missing from the nesting box.”

First, confirm your hen isn’t hiding her eggs and creating a nest outside the coop. Then, before you go looking for an egg thief, here are five factors to consider that can affect egg production:

1. Environment

“If birds are stressed, egg production may suffer,” explains Biggs. “Stress comes in many forms – predators, over-crowding, aggressive hens, loud noises, too much heat or cold, poor nutrition and illness. Check the environment to be sure there aren’t stressors in the area.”

Biggs offers advice for keeping the chicken coop stress-free:
  1. Predator proof your coop with galvanized wire and add metal screens on doors and windows.
  2. Provide at least 4 square feet of indoor space and 5-10 square feet of outdoor space per bird.
  3. Offer one nesting box per four hens with clean, dry bedding.
  4. Separate hens if the pecking order becomes aggressive.

Keep temperatures comfortable in the coop, but not drastically different than outdoors. Chickens, especially cold-tolerant breeds, can withstand winter temperatures without supplemental heat.

If you feel providing a source of heat is necessary, only raise the temperature a few degrees. Hens will adjust to the cold temperature, but if it is 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the coop and zero degrees in the run, they won’t be able to regulate their body temperature.

2. Nutrition

Another reason for decreased egg production is over-treating and over-supplementing hens. Added treats and scraps can dilute the nutrients in a complete layer feed so the hen is less able to produce eggs consistently.

“Laying hens need 38 nutrients for consistent health and performance,” he says. “Calcium is the most critical for laying hens; she must consume four grams of calcium each day. Complete layer feeds are formulated to provide everything hens need in the correct amounts, but if we provide too many treats, then those nutrients become diluted.”

A general rule to follow is the 90/10 rule. This means the hen’s diet should be made of at least 90 percent complete feed.

3. Molt

Around 18 months of age and annually after, chickens go through molt, which is defined as a period of feather loss and regrowth. Molt usually occurs in autumn and is associated with a decrease in egg production.

“Molting chickens redirect their energy from laying eggs to growing feathers,” explains Biggs. “This results in a brief break from egg production. Molt typically lasts eight to 16 weeks, depending on the bird. Once she has a new set of feathers, egg production should return to normal.”

To help hens through molt and return to laying eggs, Biggs recommends switching to a high protein feed during molt, like Purina® Flock Raiser. Once egg laying resumes, transition back to a layer feed higher in calcium.

4. Hen age

Chickens begin laying eggs between 18-20 weeks of age and can lay eggs as long as her productive lifetime allows.

“People often ask us: ‘How long do chickens live?’ This is a great connection to egg production. While the average lifespan of a chicken is 8-10 years, we’ve also seen well cared-for hens live beyond that,” Biggs says. “Just like people, as birds age they tend to slow down. Over the course of a hen’s lifetime, egg production will peak at about 250-280 eggs during their first year laying eggs. After that, the number of eggs produced each year declines until she retires.”

“A hen can continue to be a valued member of your flock after her peak production has passed,” continues Biggs. “Retired hens provide great companionship and often become leaders in their flocks, showing younger birds the ropes.”

To try a layer feed that will help your hens lay strong, sign-up for Purina’s new Feed Greatness™ Challenge at www.purinamills.com/flocktrial. To learn more about raising backyard chickens, go to www.purinamills.com/chicken-feed or connect with Purina Poultry on Facebook or Pinterest.
 

rdcowman

Songster
Oct 28, 2016
252
119
137
Iowa
my girls have slowed down egg production too, i have 4 girls molting, but that still leaves me with 14 chickens to lay. i switched food awhile ago... i have different aged chickens so when i put my 4 month old chickens in, i needed to start everybody on grower food. i put them together when they were around 5 months old. when they all started laying i switched back to layer feed. i think my grower feed was 16% protein, and the layer feed is 18% protein. i switched a couple months ago, and it seems like i haven't had as many eggs as i should be getting. i have 18 chickens. 4 are molting. i get 2-3 eggs a day. That's not right! does switching feed affect egg production?
 

dogkahuna

Songster
Oct 11, 2015
130
143
121
Southworth, WA
my girls have slowed down egg production too, i have 4 girls molting, but that still leaves me with 14 chickens to lay. i switched food awhile ago... i have different aged chickens so when i put my 4 month old chickens in, i needed to start everybody on grower food. i put them together when they were around 5 months old. when they all started laying i switched back to layer feed. i think my grower feed was 16% protein, and the layer feed is 18% protein. i switched a couple months ago, and it seems like i haven't had as many eggs as i should be getting. i have 18 chickens. 4 are molting. i get 2-3 eggs a day. That's not right! does switching feed affect egg production?
Yes--any change to their environment or diet can affect egg production, but I don't think that's a bad thing. We give our flock less protein and calcium over the winter to give their organs a break--2-3 eggs a day from 13 hens is fine. They're on sabbatical!
 

rdcowman

Songster
Oct 28, 2016
252
119
137
Iowa
Yes--any change to their environment or diet can affect egg production, but I don't think that's a bad thing. We give our flock less protein and calcium over the winter to give their organs a break--2-3 eggs a day from 13 hens is fine. They're on sabbatical!
i have 18 chickens, and 4 are molting. i don't do artificial light, i think they need a break from laying eggs!:) i just want to make sure that they're ok!
 

Chullicken

Crowing
Premium member
Apr 10, 2016
764
2,365
282
Dorchester, NH
my girls have slowed down egg production too, i have 4 girls molting, but that still leaves me with 14 chickens to lay. i switched food awhile ago... i have different aged chickens so when i put my 4 month old chickens in, i needed to start everybody on grower food. i put them together when they were around 5 months old. when they all started laying i switched back to layer feed. i think my grower feed was 16% protein, and the layer feed is 18% protein. i switched a couple months ago, and it seems like i haven't had as many eggs as i should be getting. i have 18 chickens. 4 are molting. i get 2-3 eggs a day. That's not right! does switching feed affect egg production?
Sounds like you have a nice flock. I'd honestly not do the method you are using in regard to introducing new members to your flock. I'd honestly wait until they are at or near laying age, fully feathered and same or similar size. Think it will save you a hassle in the long run by just holding off on new birds for a few additional weeks. This really me messes with the complex flock hierarchy on a lot of levels. And you also can make them just that more picky (I'm very guilty of this by switching feed brands)
 

rdcowman

Songster
Oct 28, 2016
252
119
137
Iowa
Sounds like you have a nice flock. I'd honestly not do the method you are using in regard to introducing new members to your flock. I'd honestly wait until they are at or near laying age, fully feathered and same or similar size. Think it will save you a hassle in the long run by just holding off on new birds for a few additional weeks. This really me messes with the complex flock hierarchy on a lot of levels. And you also can make them just that more picky (I'm very guilty of this by switching feed brands)
here are the ages- 3 1/2, 9months, and 7months. they never picked on the little chicks when i put them together! they're full size now!;) so do you think switching feed messed them up?
 

Chullicken

Crowing
Premium member
Apr 10, 2016
764
2,365
282
Dorchester, NH
here are the ages- 3 1/2, 9months, and 7months. they never picked on the little chicks when i put them together! they're full size now!;) so do you think switching feed messed them up?
I don't think it 'messed' them up per say..everyone in 2017 has a preferred method of raising chickens it seems. Egg laying hens have crucial vitamin requirements, especially modern production breeds and is extremely taxing on their little systems. Having said that the calcium content and the other things in layer feed isn't much higher than chick starter, the later having a higher protein percentage for development. Your grower feed should be at or around %18 protein, while layer typically is around %16. At the point you are introducing them, they shouldn't need to be on a starter any longer with access to grit.
If they are not laying though, you could actually just use a non layer feed type as some sources believe non laying birds can have adverse reactions to excessive calcium in their systems. Such as fatty liver, digestive issues and kidney failure and potentially ovulation issues since they are not using that calcium for production. For instance I have my 'dog' chicken that I keep in her own cage for various reasons. She decided to molt a few weeks ago, about two months later than the rest. So she is on a feather builder regiment and not layer feed as she hasn't laid an egg since. Show us some pics!
 
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