Eggless Hens

One of the most common questions we get asked from chicken owners is “Why have my hens stopped laying?” There are various reasons but some of the most common are increasing age, lacking nutrition, disease, stress and reduced daylight hours. Various chicken breeds also perform differently at certain times.

Age

Age is the most common reason for decreased egg production. The first two to three years are the most productive then you will find that productivity will start to decrease as the bird ages. This will vary with different birds. There are reported cases of birds laying as old as eight to ten years old. Chickens will also go through moulting periods which can last for two to three weeks and as the birds get older the more often they will moult and a decrease in egg quality . Egg production ceases during this time.

Nutrition

To maximize egg production laying hens require a balanced nutritional diet full of protein. A lacking diet can decrease egg productivity. It is common for people to feed their chickens food scraps which is fine as long as it doesn’t form the main part of their diet as this will dilute required nutrients and the diet will become imbalanced. Chickens also require a source of calcium such as oyster shell which keeps the egg shells hard. A good nutritional diet will also help prevent a condition called prolapse which is caused by a bird being too fat or an oversize egg causes the reproductive tract to be expelled with the egg which in most cases will be fatal. Chickens also require a constant supply of fresh water to stay hydrated on hot and cold days as do humans.

Stress

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Chickens are a routine bird and don’t particularly like change. Some common causes of stress are damp, cold and drafty living quarters, environmental conditions, too hot, too cold, frightened, rough handling and being moved. Chickens are a very social birds but live under a pecking order so be aware if you introduce new birds to the brood. Also be aware of parasites which can affect the birds internally and externally so have adequate controls in place. Some other factors that can stress or frighten a bird are dogs, snakes, livestock etc. and further decrease in egg production can be caused by predators eating eggs, hens hiding or eating eggs or no where to lay causing egg breakage.

Disease

There are many diseases which can affect chickens even in the best conditions so when buying hens ensure they are vaccinated for diseases common to your area. Bronchitis, influenza, egg drop syndrome are only a few diseases that can affect your chickens and cause a drop in egg production.  If you notice any changes to the chickens appearance or nature which has you concerned contact your local vet for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

A decrease in daylight

It is common around winter time that people notice a drop or a stop in egg production. This can also occur on dark rainy days or heavily clouded days. To sustain a high level of egg production hens require approximately 12 to 14 hours of daylight hence the reason some farmed birds use light at night tricking the birds into thinking it is still daytime. This is not a practice we find appropriate or recommend.

 

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