As of late lots of members have been asking why (Oh Why!!) has there beloved chickens stopped laying those eggs that almost seem like little Christmas gifts when you go out to the coop and open there nest boxes. Is it something I am doing? What do I need to do? HELP!!!
When I first got my chickens I ran into the same issue and question. I wanted to touch on 4 main reasons why your beloved girls will stop laying eggs.
1. A lot of the time (right around fall) most chickens start there molt! They can go through a "light" molt that can last two weeks to a month but you can also run into a chicken that has a "heavy" molt at times that can last one to two months (or longer!). YIKES!!!
As your chicken is loosing her spring and summer coat she is making her new winter coat at the same time! Your poor girl will have feathers all over the place and she will almost seem depressed. I think they are in a bit of pain at this time so do her a favor and do not pick her up;)
As that winter coat pushes through your chicken needs protein! Feathers are about 85% protein and egg production takes up about the same amount of protein. So, your chicken stopped laying because she is making new feathers:)
At this time you need to feed her a high protein diet to make up for all that lost protein if you want her back laying like normal. There are feeds out there that have about 16% protein that you can feed her, scrap meat from dinner, let her into that compost pile to find grubs, and you can give her some good old sunflower seeds:)
2. As winter is approaching for all of us in the US (Love all our fans all over the world!) the light will not last tell 9pm like we see in the summer. Less light means less eggs! So, if you add more light you should keep that awesome egg production going!
If your coop does not have windows to let in natural light you may want to rethink that decision. Putting in windows will help lots! You can also add artificial lights to there coops but do not leave the light on all night (for crying out loud!).
3. Maybe your chickens are to young? Maybe they are to old now?
Most chickens will start laying there first eggs at the age of 20 weeks (about 5 months) old. I wrote another article you can read HERE about signs you will see when your chickens are about to lay there first egg!
When your girls get to old to lay they will stop laying slowly but there eggs get bigger! I will be letting my girls live way into there old age but most people cull and cook there chickens right around the 3 year make because egg production will slow down lots right around then:(
4. When your girls go broody they will stop laying then as well. There whole goal in life will be to hatch eggs! They will not do much of anything at this time so the only way to get those eggs going again is to get her out of that broody attitude!
One of the biggest reasons for hens to good broody is because you let eggs build up in her nest box! Once she starts seeing a clutch of eggs she is more likely to want to sit and incubate them! Get your butt out to the coop and collect those eggs daily. If the kids are not doing there job and collecting the eggs daily you need to do it or set them strait;) Some breeds of chickens go broody more often so be sure to google your breed to find info on there broodiness. Chickens normally go broody right around spring so make sure you are collecting eggs everyday around then!
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God Bless - Matt