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Reasons why Chickens are not laying

Posted by Justin - Dine A Chook NZ on

Are you a New Zealand backyard chicken keeper asking yourself why egg production has slowed or stopped? Hopefully, this article will help give you some answers as to the Reasons why Chickens are not laying.

A Chicken moults on average once per year. Moulting is a natural cycle. Chickens lose their old feathers to make way for new ones. During this time it is like a vacation period for laying eggs and may take several weeks.

Older Chickens may take longer and moult more often. These older hens eventually get to a point where egg laying completely stops. This is especially so for commercial layers. We should, however, be kind to them and still treat them with love. After all, they have given us years of beautiful eggs.

Another point which could cause slowing in egg supply is how much daylight your hens are getting. Winter months have shorter days. The hormones in laying hens use sunlight as a trigger. A laying hen requires around 14 hours of daylight to maintain good egg production. In the case of backyard chickens, sunlight is the most common source. It is normal to see a decline in egg production during Autumn and also Winter. As Spring sets in, production returns typically in full swing.

If you want your girls to lay eggs during cooler months with shorter days, then you will need to provide additional lighting. One option is a solar powered shed light on a timer. This will allow the hens to receive a few extra hours of light prior to sunrise. A warm spectrum fluorescent bulb works best.

But what if it isn't Moulting. Do you have younger birds with plenty of daylight in the Middle of Summer?

Here are some other Reasons why Chickens are not laying.

Top 4 Reasons why Chickens are not laying

  • Chickens are hiding the eggs.

This is a rather common occurrence. You go to the effort of a lovely nesting box, and it simply is not used. Instead, the hens find their own special place. This could be a plant pot or a dark little posy in behind the garden shed. This assumes here that your girls are free ranging. If this is the case, go on an egg hunt, and you may find the eggs.

If they are secure in a chicken coop, then this won’t be the case. Have you considered a predator could be stealing the eggs. Also, they may be laying eggs but have developed a taste for them and are eating them.

  • Health Problems of Chickens

Sadly, this is relatively common. And while we hate to get to involved with the discussion of what chicken keepers feed their chooks, we see an ever-increasing number of people feeding their chooks masses of scraps like canned tuna. You need to understand the nutritional requirements of a laying hen. We have a great article on What is the Best Diet for Chickens

What is the Best Diet for chickens

Feed companies continually improve feed based on what a bird requires to be optimally healthy. When you alternate the food source, you dilute the nutritional intake that laying hens need to remain productive.

As far as backyard poultry goes, you are better to buy the best quality complete feed you can afford. Supplement this feed with a mineral supplement or Dried Meal Worms. If you would like to feed your girls greens, grow them fresh in your garden. Go organic so it's naturally free from herbicides and pesticides. Health Problems are certainly Number One in our Top 4 Reasons Why Chickens are Not Laying.

Other things which you could consider under Chicken Health Problems are:

Bacteria or Viruses

Common Causes – Fowl Pox, Newcastle disease, Mycoplasmosis, Infectious Coryza, Infectious bronchitis.

Less Common Causes – Avian encephalomyelitis

Rare Causes – Avian influenza, Fowl cholera


Common Causes – Poultry mites and lice

Less Common Causes – Coccidiosis, Heavy infestations with roundworms, threadworms or tapeworms.

Rare Causes – Fleas

Physical examination

Don’t be afraid to pick your chooks up and get to know them. Also, be mindful to listen out for any unusual noises sneezing or coughing which could be early signs of respiratory disease. Discharge from the nostrils or weeping from their eyes is also a sign of illness and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Pay close attention to any scabs on their face which could be a sign of fowlpox

  • Poor Flock management

It's is both common and avoidable. Poor flock management. You should insulate Chicken coops in the walls and ceiling. Heat Stress is a significant factor that stops chickens laying eggs. It takes a lot of work and hydration to lay an egg. An egg consists of up to 90% water. This does not include the hydration the hen requires to produce it. Limited or running out of fresh water shuts down production. By using Dine A Chook Chicken Drinkers, you can ensure your birds get clean water on demand. Water should be free of contaminants such as dirt, and algae and a complete feed should be available always. Hens should never be feed periodically or only at certain times of the day. Ensure that both feed and water are available at all times throughout the day.

Overcrowding is more common than it should be. If you don’t have space, keep a couple of hens. Be mindful of buying a small chicken coop and keeping too many birds in it.

Don't allow feed to become wet or even just damp as mouldy feed can be a significant issue. Our Automatic PVC Chicken Feeders are designed to keep your feed high and dry even in torrential rain.

  • Chicken Feed and water

A relaxed hen is much more likely to lay an egg as opposed to a hen that is under stress. Imagine the pressure that you would be under if you could not find fresh food or more so if you couldn’t find clean water. This is such an obvious consideration, and this is why thousands of customers have invested in our feeders and waterers. It is vital that you ensure that your birds always have access to fresh water and feed. There are many reasons why poorly designed feeders and drinkers fail. Generally, it comes down to spillage and spoiling of water. We hear this problem a lot from customers that have purchased imported treadle feeders.

Treadle feeders have mechanical moving components. Cheap treadle feeders use cheap parts in the manufacture process. This can cause the lid to remain open causing exposure to weather. It can also attract rodents as well as pest birds. Once pest birds learn where the feed is, they fly in once the chooks open the lid and often don't make it back out before the lid closes. You can only guess what happens to that bird now.

We hope our Top 4 Reasons Why Chickens Not Laying has been of help to you. If there is a topic you would like us to write about send us an email via the Contact us page.

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