Why did all my hens suddenly stop laying?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by katelk, Oct 30, 2014.

  1. katelk

    katelk Songster

    May 6, 2013
    White Bluff, TN
    I went from getting around 6 eggs per day to getting one if I am lucky for the last couple of weeks.
    I have a total of 9 hens that should be laying. 3 of them are molting hard right now (along with my main roo) Here are some details about what has been going on, let me know if any of this could be a cause to stop laying:

    1. I sold 5 hens that had been with the flock awhile about a month ago.

    2. I switched their coop bedding from pine shavings to sand about 3 weeks ago.

    3. The weather just turned quite cold.

    4. About a month ago I introduced some new pullets and 2 cockerels I hatched in the spring.

    5. I just switched their feed from normal dry grains to fermenting their feed.

    6. 3 hens and one rooster are molting.

    My husband and I have scoured their yard for a hidden stash multiple times and found not a single egg.
    I don't understand that technically 6 girls should be laying, but they just all seemed to stop at the same time. It was around the time the other hens started molting, but why would it impact everyone? I also have not seen the roosters mating the ladies at all lately, which is very unusual, although I suppose the Roos know the girls aren't laying?
    Please help; I am getting worried!
  2. vbob99

    vbob99 In the Brooder

    Mar 22, 2014
    every time there is a drastic weather change, cold to hot or reverse. our hens stop laying
  3. katelk

    katelk Songster

    May 6, 2013
    White Bluff, TN

    Oooh I really hope that's all it is!! That makes me feel better. I don't remember a dramatic egg drop last winter, but they were all young, brand new layers then and I was too new to chickens to probably notice.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    The other may be molting just not as noticeably...plus if this is their second winter coming on, the lack of light will definitely effect their laying.

    The not laying could be because of lack of daylight. Sometimes first year layers will lay all winter without supplemental lighting, sometimes they won't.
    Older layers need 14-16 hours of light to lay regularly thru winter. Last winter I used a 40 watt incandescent light(this year I am using a CFL) that comes on early in the morning to provide 14-15 hours of light and they go to roost with the natural sundown. Last year I started the lighting increase a bit late(mid October), the light should be increased slowly, and the pullets didn't start laying until late December. Here's pretty good article on supplemental lighting. Some folks think that using lighting shortens the years a hen will lay, I don't agree with that theory but I also plan to cull my older hens for soup at about 3 years old.

    You also might want to try and confine them to the coop for a week to make sure they are not laying out in their range. Free range birds sometimes need to be 'trained'(or re-trained) to lay in the coop nests, especially new layers. Leaving them locked in the coop for 2-3 days can help 'home' them to lay in the coop nests. They can be confined to coop 24/7 for a few days to a week, or confine them at least until mid to late afternoon. You help them create a new habit and they will usually stick with it.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2014

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