Monday, July 10, 2017

More Reasons For the Egg Slowdown

"S" asked if there were other reasons why chickens would stop laying eggs. Sure there are! In my own case I believe it's a combination of older birds, them mostly not being commercial egg production breeds, and shortening daylight hours. If I constantly rotated young birds into the flock, bought only heavy egg layers, and provided extra light, then I'd most likely see lots of eggs almost year around. By maintaining two separate flocks and managing their molting period so that only one flock molted at a time, then I'd have a steady supply of eggs. Yes, it could be done. But frankly, it's not the kind of work that I'm currently interested in doing. 

Reasons why hens slow down or stop laying...
...shortening daylight hours and no supplemental light being provided. 
...old birds. After their second laying cycle, some breeds significantly lay less eggs are tend to stop early each year. 
...wrong breed. The commercial heavy egg layers are best for production through the year. Other breeds, mixbreeds, and in my case the ferals, lay less and stop early. 
...poor diet. Not enough protein or calcium will reduce egg laying. An unbalanced diet will also affect egg laying -- too much if one thing or not enough of another. 
...too much scratch being fed. 
...not enough clean water. 
...a break in food or water availability. Letting the hens run out of each could shut them down. 
...a change in diet. Change the food type, or even the brand, can affect some hens. They like consistency. 
...change in environment. New waterers. New feeders or bowls. New roosts or change of location. Remodeled coop. New pen location. New roof or the roof being removed. chickens being added to the flock. Or the significant removal of a number of hens from the flock. Flock dynamics change, thus affecting the pecking order. 
...illness. Sick birds often don't show signs, other than eating less and stop laying. 
...something new outside of the pen. New dog. New neighbors. Heavy equipment being used. Helicopters flying overhead. Drone flying over the pen. Stockade fence removed. Brush and trees removed. 
..predator. A nighttime visitor you're not aware of? A dog visiting the pen when you're not home. Rats. Snakes. Owls or hawks checking the pen daily. Skunks. Raccoons. Possums. 
...the weather. Severe storms, floods, extreme cold, extreme heat can all affect egg laying. 
...moldy feed. 
...they've gone broody. 

Perhaps you just bought the hens, and they stopped laying. Yes, they were laying great for the seller, but changing homes is a real shock for the hens. It is not uncommon for them to stop egg laying. 

Not all flocks are so sensitive to changes, but if they already under stress or if they are extremely settled in a routine, then changes could result in egg laying issues. 


  1. Hello Aunt Sue :), not sure how to get ahold of you other than on your blog but I'm Tim, your brother David's kid. I just wanted to ask how you and everyone is doing. Random if me to just out of the blue ask but I just thought I would.. I remember you giving my and my sister Mikayla rides on your back when we were at grandmoms house. Anyways just wanted to reach out and see how you guys are doing :)

  2. Aloha Sue! I just came across your blog whilst doing some chicken research (newbie here). I live in Kona so I was delighted to find your Hawaii-based blog. I had one quick question. I purchased 11 eggs to appease a wild broody hen that hangs out in our garage closet. It is day 22 and still no signs of piping. She pooped on her nest on day 19, some of the eggs are quite spoilt and the nest is pretty poopy. My hen will not get up as she is wild. I'm worried about the chicks hatching in an unhealthy environment but I don't want to risk picking up the eggs and harming them so late in the game. Will they be ok? The poop is nearly dried. Should I remove the 2 extremely poopy eggs? I forgot to mention I didn't candle the eggs so I'm not even sure if they are all fertilized and now I'm worried about them exploding.

    1. Aloha Keri! While 21-22 days is the average incubation for chicken eggs, it can take longer if the eggs had cooled off. The 21-22 days is for when the eggs have ideal temperature and humidity. So it could take longer.

      Pooping in the nest Is no big deal. I've never heard of anyone trying to clean off the eggs. The poop won't hurt the hatching chicks.

      The eggs usually don't explode on their own. So I wouldn't worry about that.

      If this were my hen, I would let her keep the eggs for another week or so. There are ways to tell if the eggs are fertile or bad, but novices won't know how.