Troubleshooting: Why aren't my hens laying anymore?


5 Years
Mar 1, 2014
I have a handful of red stars from the year before last. I have a black star and an orpington around the same age. I also have chicks I got in february. Then I have two batches that I hatched, myself, since then. Three other people got some of the chicks I got in february, and theirs are all laying. My red stars, black star, and orpington were all laying this summer. Right now NO ONE is laying.
I have put a light in the coop, the nest boxes are the same as they always have been... My dad swears "they aren't getting enough food." We recently haven't been able to afford chicken feed, so we've been throwing them lots of random table scraps, oatmeal, rice, and even dry puppy food (which they love.) They are in my fenced in back yard, which is pretty big, and still has some foliage to graze on. I try to throw them extra grass and yard stuff whenever I can. What's the deal? I also have six ducks from february. A friend got the others and of course - hers are laying and mine aren't. I'm so confused!! What can I be doing wrong??
To get your hens to lay eggs on a regular basis they need a good layer feed to do so. If all you are feeding them is table scraps and what they can manage to get while free-ranging, your egg production will most definitely suffer. Also be aware that we are heading into winter when egg production goes always goes down due to shorter days and the cold. Personally I think this is a good time for my girls to take a rest.

You said that you have put a light in the coop...please be aware that this is a dangerous thing to do for the high risk of fire.

Chickens do not require heat during the winter months. If you are simply using a light source to try and get them to produce more eggs I don't think that will happen mainly because they are not getting the proper feed for them to do so. Be sure to provide some oyster shell on the side for your girls also..this will aid in producing nice firm shells.

Can you post a picture of your coop/run? We might possibly spot something you may have missed and can help you better. Keep us posted!
Well, you need to feed them some chicken feed... they need the vitamins and minerals in a balanced feed formulated for chickens....or your production will suffer....and are you providing calcium in the form of oyster or chicken egg shell for the layers?

You say you have a light, I assume for supplementation of day length to encourage winter laying, but has it been applied properly? They need at least 14 hours and it should be slowly increased to that amount and will still take several weeks or more to have an effect. Here's a good article about supplemental light, read it thoroughly for better understanding.

Red and black stars are hybrids, crossed for high egg laying capacity, but they only produce well for 2 to maybe 3 years, then drop off dramatically. That might be part of the problem.

Integration of your old and new chickens may be causing stress that can inhibit laying, how big is your coop and run?
iwiw60 is correct, without proper feed, your hens will not lay well. They need enough protein to be able to make eggs. Also, this is the time of year with decreasing daylight that they will start their molts. Adding light will not stop them from molting. They need this break in order to replace their feathers for winter.
Unfortunately, your father is correct- the lack of laying is most likely related to a current state of malnutrition. When their bodies have to try to take what they are getting and use it solely to survive, they are not able to put anything towards production. How long has it been since they had poultry feed available? At what point do you anticipate that your financial situation might change so that you are again able to afford poultry feed? Where are you located?

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