When good layers stop laying...


In the Brooder
10 Years
Aug 31, 2009
Portland, OR
I have four hens, all approximately 6 months old: Lucy and Doris (Easter Eggers), Jane (RI Red), and Lana (Silver Wyandotte). Lucy and Doris have been laying reliably, each one giving us about 4 eggs a week in the couple months that we've had them. Jane and Lana only gave us their first eggs in the last week - two from Jane and one from Lana.

While we're thrilled to see Jane and Lana earning their keep finally, we're curious about Doris and Lucy. They've all but stopped laying! We get maybe an egg or two a week from each one now, if that.

They used to squat whenever we reached for them, but they don't anymore (Jane, on the other hand, just started doing it). They get an excellent diet of organic, corn-free and soy-free feed, rounded out by grass and bugs they find and most of our kitchen scraps. They seem to be in excellent health. They just aren't laying.

We have a light on a timer in their coop and it's on from 5:30-7:30 every morning. That was supposed to keep them laying through the winter and, while it's chilled off a bit, it hasn't been THAT cold in Portland (highs in the upper 60's). I can't figure out what's going on.

Any ideas?

Thanks in advance!
The only idea that I have is to change the timer. Set it to come on earlier.

I have no experience here, I don't even supplement light in the winter. It just seems a logical place to start.

I wonder if they aren't older than what you think. If you've had them for 2 months and they've been laying that whole time I'd bet they're older. The pullet that starts laying at 4 months is very rare. If they're older, they could very well just be taking their natural break from laying. Are they molting?
The days are getting shorter, which slows down egg production, along with it being the time of year for most hens to molt. That will cause them to start laying too, so don't worry to much! It's just that time of year. Mine are doing that too.
I haven't noticed any loose feathers, but I don't really know how molting works. The two that used to be regular layers, Lucy and Doris, were definitely about five months old when we first got them in early August; they had only just started laying. The other two were supposed to be about the same age, but like I said, they only just started to lay and they still aren't up to rapid production yet.

I'll try setting the timer for earlier. What time should I start it, do you think? About 12 hours before the usual sunset?
Chickens need 14 hours of daylight for good egg production, so set it to where they will get 14 hours of light.

As far as molting goes, I don't think you will notice any loose feathers per se. It will more look like your chickens are having pillow fights in the run! That's what my chickens run looks like right now.
Mine have similarly eased up on the laying, some days I get less than half the eggs of the day before. I know I have 2 definite molters, and 2 with chicks...so that automatically knocks out 4; I have 2 that just started laying, so they are extremely inconsistent. I suspect other molters or partial molters, as it is that time and there have been A LOT of feathers about (harder to tell with my flock, as they free range); with the rest I think the shortening days have thrown them for a bit of a loop.
That's very helpful, thank you! They usually go up to the roost about 6 pm, so I'll set the timer for 4 am. Hopefully another hour and a half of light will get them laying again!

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom