Why Your Hens Aren’t Laying Eggs

Hens Not Filling the Egg Basket? Here are a few answers to why.

First of all, don’t panic, egg production changes for many reasons, and they aren’t all bad, so let’s narrow it down and take a look at all the different scenarios. We’ll start with the most common reasons.

Every year your chickens will molt, in other words, lose their feathers and grow new ones. Unfortunately, it also means most hens won’t lay eggs until their molt cycle is done. However, there are variations to that rule. The molting process is fully explained HERE.

The Broody Hen
When a hen is broody, it means she wants to hatch eggs and raise chicks. Some breeds are more broody than others, for instance, Silkies. When a hen decides to go broody, there is little you can do to change her mind! She’ll stay in her nest and sit on her eggs, other bird’s eggs, or nothing at all! Remember, just because you don’t have a rooster, doesn’t mean your hen won’t go broody.  A hen will become broody and sit on eggs whether they’re fertilized or not.
The pic below is a broody Silkie, notice how she has a flattened appearance or looks spread out. That’s a classic look for a broody hen. Unfortunately, she will not lay eggs during this time. More Information.

Broody Hen

As the days become shorter it is a signal that winter is on its way. It’s natural for hens to lay only a couple of eggs per week in the winter months, sometimes none at all. Hot weather can also affect egg production, here in Phoenix, production can slow or even stop when the heat becomes extreme. Summer Heat Tips.

If you move your birds, add new birds or anything that has changed their routine, is a good enough reason to take time off from laying eggs.  Sometimes a predator scare can upset a flock and they’ll stop laying for a week or more.  Another important factor is your bird’s feed. Make sure they’re consuming quality feed, and I don’t mean chicken scratch. Protein and calcium are essential.
Chickens need adequate space, overcrowding makes for unhappy birds, and this is especially important, why? Because happy hens fill the egg basket! One more thing, pests can also cause a stressful environment, so make sure your birds are not bothered by mites. More on Pests.

A sick hen will not lay, ever. All I can tell you about that is to look for the most common signs of illness. Watery eyes, droopy tail, Hen doesn’t leave the nest, coughing, diarrhea, etc.   A sick bird is pretty obvious and should be isolated from the flock immediately.

Let’s not leave out the inevitable….age.
Unfortunately, all hens reach the age when they no longer lay eggs. Of course, some continue to surprise us with an egg well after their productive years. It may surprise you to learn that hens usually only lay eggs until they’re around 3 years old. Their first 2 years are the most productive, then, fewer and fewer as time passes. Except for those special ladies that don’t agree with that statement, and I’ve had a few!

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Laying Hens and How Light Effects Egg Production

Why Egg Production is Low During the Winter Months

Light is one of the most important environmental factors affecting egg production in hens. This is because hens are photoperiodic animals, which means that their reproductive system is regulated by the amount and duration of light they receive.
Regulation of the Reproductive Cycle:
Light affects the reproductive cycle of hens by regulating the secretion of hormones such as melatonin, which is produced by the pineal gland in response to changes in light. Melatonin has been shown to have an inhibitory effect on the reproductive system of hens. When hens are exposed to increasing amounts of light, the production of melatonin is suppressed, and this stimulates the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary gland, which in turn stimulates the development of ovarian follicles and the production of eggs.
Increase in Day Length:
Hens require a certain amount of daylight to stimulate their reproductive system. Typically, hens require between 14 and 16 hours of daylight per day to achieve maximum egg production. When the days are shorter, such as during the winter months, the decrease in daylight can lead to a decrease in egg production. When the days are longer, such as during the summer months, hens are exposed to more daylight, which can stimulate egg production.
Light Intensity:
The intensity of light can also affect egg production in hens. Hens require a minimum level of light intensity to be able to see their surroundings and engage in normal activities such as eating and drinking. In addition, hens require a certain level of light intensity to stimulate their reproductive system. When the light intensity is too low, it can lead to a decrease in egg production.
Light Color:
The color of light can also affect egg production in hens. Studies have shown that blue light can stimulate egg production in hens, while red light can have an inhibitory effect. This is because blue light has been shown to increase the production of FSH, while red light has been shown to increase the production of melatonin.
Interesting Fact: By controlling the duration, intensity, and color of light, farmers can manipulate the reproductive cycle of hens and increase their egg production.

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The Hint of Spring

The Hens are Back to Work

It may still feel like the dead of winter in many places around the country, but here in Arizona spring is quite apparent.  While the hens rest during the colder winter months the egg production substantially decreases.  Most all the heavy breeds continue to lay every two to three days, but the exhibition or fancy light birds quit laying altogether. But now the days are getting longer, and with warmer temperatures, the entire flock has started laying again. Even my fancy ladies Lady Madonna and Penny Lane added their pretty white eggs to the nest with all the others.

Lady Madonna
Fresh Farm Eggs
Polish, Penny Lane
Sizzle Pullet, Jo Jo
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