10 Reasons Your Backyard Chickens are Not Laying Eggs
Many chicken owners find it so distressing when their chickens stop laying eggs.
An experienced chicken owner knows how to tell that this is a part of the natural cycle of a hens’ life or other reasons that their chickens are not laying eggs.
To be able to deal with the causes of chickens not laying eggs, you will need to know how to identify the cause.
This article will give you various possible reasons your chickens are not laying eggs.
The Natural Molting Cycles
Chickens will molt as seasons change. This is a normal process that causes the chickens to shed old feathers and grow new ones. During this time, the body prepares itself to grow more fully and develop a beautiful plumage.
Molting is a natural process. If you have a valid reason for not letting your chickens go into molt, you can introduce artificial lighting to the birdcage. This stops the molting. It is recommended that you let your birds go through a molt.
Throughout the molting process, your laying eggs will look rather haggard and weary. You need to ensure that your hens are getting a balanced diet of calcium, vitamins, and protein. Often, if your hens continue to lay eggs after molting, they will probably lay larger eggs. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about the molting process. It is a necessary stage to upgrade their egg maker.
Hen Too Old to Lay
Perhaps your chicken will stop laying eggs due to old age. That’s okay. The life span of chickens is around 10 years. As they approach this age, they are barely laying. If you notice that your chicken has stopped laying, you may want to make a decision.
If you merely keep the chickens as pets, you might consider keeping them until their natural death. On the other hand, if you kept the birds specifically for egg production, it is time to have chicken meat!
Little or No Time in the light
Chickens need to be exposed to plenty of light. Many chicken owners do not consider this when building backyard confinement. A gland behind your birds’ eyes produces a specific type of hormone that triggers the chicken’s body to commence egg production. You should ensure at least 10 hours of daylight if you want maximum egg production.
In case of a change in seasons, such as from a hot to a cold season where daylight hours are reduced, you don’t have to worry. Artificial light simulators and heat lamps can work too in place of the sun. This is indeed left to the discretion of the breeder.
Improper Nutrition or Too Much Food
As it is with humans, too much of something is poison. In this case, too much food for your hens will drastically reduce production. An imbalanced or inadequate diet may cause problems. Generally, overweight hens are quite inactive and unhealthy. You should always ensure food rationing.
Consequently, a poor diet leads to poor production. Laying hens need a balanced diet to ensure maximum egg production. Low levels of proteins, calcium, or energy affect egg-laying negatively. To make this clear, chicken feed necessitates a balanced diet if you intend to enhance production. Plenty of water with the correct feeding procedure guarantees sufficient production.
In most cases, chicken breeders add new breeds to their flock. New members always go through a hard time in a new environment. Sometimes, hens among your flock may stop for a little while as they blend. Either way, a change in environmental factors affects egg production.
The same situation also applies when you move your chicken to a different coop. You need to understand that chickens are routine birds. Merely moving the chicken coop across your yard can affect egg-laying. Once the birds get used to a new space, they will go back to laying in no time. You should practice patience in such a situation.
- High Temperature- High temperatures in the chickens’ enclosure or environment can cause serious problems for poultry. Severe heat stress affects egg production, feeding, hatching, and your birds get generally inactive. You should ensure an adequate supply of water, proper ventilation, or shade for your flock if you want to manage heat stress.
- Inadequate Feeding- Hens need a frequent supply of feeds for maximum production. If they run out of food for hours, production will decline.
Make sure that your birds have an adequate supply of fresh, nutritious feed.
- Out of Water- Water is by far the most essential entity. Lack of water for hours will also cut production. The amount of water that your chicken consumes depends on humidity, diet composition, and environmental temperature. You should add more water stations, especially in hot weather. The fact that water takes about 70% of body weight should be a good reason for you to supply sufficient water.
- Short Day Length- To maintain egg production, hens need a minimum of 10 hours of daylight. Short day length can cause molting of feathers. In winter, a decrease in daylength leads to a decline in production. During this time, you need to provide supplemental light to maintain production.
Illness may likely be the cause of stress on a hen. If your hen stops laying, it could be a sign of an infection. Sometimes, chickens get respiratory viruses that might be difficult to detect. If your chickens begin to gurgle or snore, make a step to quarantine the chicken as soon as you get suspicious, then contact a doctor for a check-up
Diseases that might attack your flock are;
- Infectious Bronchitis- This is a highly contagious respiratory disease. If only affects chickens. Early signs of infection could be coughing, sneezing, or gasping for air. If this disease attacks your hen while still young, it will affect egg laying throughout the birds’ life. For laying hens, egg quality and production are highly affected. You can use prescribed vaccines for prevention.
- Coccidiosis- This is a protozoan disease that is mostly found wherever chickens are raised. Infection usually varies from mild to severe. Affected birds may display different symptoms. The common symptoms to all birds are low feed consumption, diarrhea, general droopiness, high mortality rate, and a drastic drop in egg production. To prevent infection, you should vaccinate your flock. You can also add a coccidiostat to the chickens’ feed.
- Fowl Cholera- This is a bacterial poultry disease. Early signs of infection could be mucoid diarrhea, anorexia, discharge from the eyes and nose, or cyanosis. In case of a severe infection, joints and foot pads may start to swell or abscessed wattles start developing. Sudden deaths may occur. A vaccine for fowl cholera is widely available. However, it is recommended that you vaccinate your flock only where this disease is endemic. If there is an outbreak, you can treat your flock with Sulfa drugs.
Other infections that might attack your poultry include; Infectious Coryza, the Avian Influenza, Mycoplasma Infection, or Fowl Pox. You need to seek help from a veterinary specialist if you notice any kind of infection.
Internal and external parasites affect poultry. Low infestation levels do not pose a huge problem and can be left untreated. However, a severe infestation may lead to huge production losses, little or no feed consumption, and even a decline in overall health.
Signs of internal parasite infestation are stunted growth, low levels of egg production and feed conversion, inactivity, and, in severe cases, death. Affected birds are also susceptible to diseases and stresses.
Internal parasites are worms and protozoa. If your chickens have worms, you may want to eradicate them. Worms common in poultry are roundworms(nematodes) and tapeworms,
External parasites are more problematic because their infestation can cause sudden deaths. It is mostly spread by birds’ contact. Rodents and wild birds may also infect your flock with parasites. External parasites suck on the blood of the host and can cause anemia. Once they get access to your flock, it is difficult to control. They include; lice, fleas, and mites.
You should regularly check your birds and their enclosure for any signs of parasites. Always ensure that the coop is clean and allow the birds to have a sand bath. You are advised to quarantine new birds for at least two weeks to monitor any signs of infection. Consult your veterinarian for certified products that can control the parasites. Ensure you empty the chickens’ nesting boxes at least twice a week and refill them with fresh material.
Egg binding is a situation when a chicken has an egg stuck. This happens on very minimal occasions. Calcium deficiency, a large egg, or a small pelvis can lead to such a mishappening. In case of such a predicament, you need to contact your veterinarian. Maybe an injection of calcium would suffice. You can massage your hen with warm water to help calm the muscles.
If you have many hens in a small coop, they may stop laying. Even though chickens do not require a huge space, congestion affects production negatively.
For a free-range chicken, ensure a space around 4 square feet. Cooped birds will require about 8 square feet per chicken.
In addition to the reasons stated above, it is possible that your hen is laying but you are not able to find the eggs for reasons. The hen may be laying in a location other than the box, a thief or a predator may be taking advantage, or your hens may be eating their eggs! Be sure to check on every possibility.