Have you ever had your chickens suddenly stop laying and you can't figure out what? We have too. Here are some of the things we have noticed that may cause decreased egg production
During the Spring and Summer our chickens lay like gangbusters. However, sometimes, we will have unexplained decreases in our egg production.
Whenever this happens, we always try to troubleshoot and figure out why our chickens have decreased their egg production.
It is important to know how often chickens lay eggs so that you know if you are getting a normal amount or if there is decrease egg production to look at.
Are You Experiencing Decreased Egg Production?
A decrease in your chickens' egg laying can be pretty disheartening. Especially if you are keeping chickens in order to have farm fresh eggs.
Not to worry though. Here are 7 of the most likely reasons your chickens may have a decrease egg production schedule.
Each year your chickens will go through molt. This usually happens in the early Fall time. If they are molting, it may look like a big feather pillow fight in your coop. Helping to increase the protein intake for your chickens can help them get through molt and reverse their decreased egg production.
2. Broken Eggs
This one isn't even a decrease so much as a quality issue. At times your chickens may experience a calcium deficiency. Calcium is one of the main components to a nice, thick, hard eggshell. If they are missing calcium in their diet their eggshells will suffer.
If you happen to be getting less eggs because they are breaking, you should give some free choice oyster shells to your flock. The calcium in the oyster shells should help harden the egg shell and decrease broken eggs.
Need some help keeping your chickens health and care taken care of? Check out the Organized Chicken Keeper for an easy to follow system.
3. Egg Eaters
Again, this is not exactly a production issue. It may be some chickens with behavioral problems or there could be a snake or rodent issue going on.
Whether it is your own chickens or a snake, sometimes less eggs are due to something eating them. There are a few ways to fix this problem.
You can fill an egg shell with hot sauce. Anything that gets that egg will not likely return for seconds.
Make sure you don't leave eggs in the nesting box any longer than necessary. Less opportunities to steal eggs means less eggs will be stolen.
Consider getting a barn cat or two is there is a snake or rodent issue. Barn cats will help curb those problems pretty quickly.
If chickens have mites and lice the stress can cause them to decrease egg production. So, if you start seeing decreased eggs, then you should check the vent and under wing area on a few birds to see if they have any little bugs on them.
A great way to cut down on some of these pests is to make sure your chickens have access to some Diatomaceous Earth, or D.E. for short. Sprinkle some around their vent or infected areas and it should kill the pests.
5. Stress or a New Environment
Chickens will shut down or decrease egg production if they are stressed out or undergoing changes. Any number of things can contribute to a stressed out hen. If you have recently added new chickens to the flock, moved their coop, or made any other changes recently they may stop laying for a short period of time.
Unfortunately, there is not a lot you can do about this one. You really just have to wait them out it passes. In the mean time you can do things like give them treats, toys, or something else to keep them occupied and less stressed.
6. Lack of Water
Like pretty much any living thing, chickens need water. If they don't get enough, they will not be able to function at an optimal level.
Whether it is the heat of summer and the water is running dry or if it is the dead of winter and their water is frozen solid, if the chickens are not getting enough water, they will decrease egg production. Make sure your chickens have plenty of water in the cold weather by knowing how to prevent chicken waters from freezing.
After all, think about how much liquid an egg is made up of.
7. Decreased Light
You have likely noticed a decent production drop during the winter time. The shorter, darker days of winter will cause egg production to drop drastically.
Chickens need a certain number of hours of light to produce an egg. Once the days get shorter they do not get enough light to produce as heavily as the summer.
If you like, you can add a regular light and timer to the coop in order to give them extra light in the dark winter days to help keep their egg production up.
Of course, there is also a chance, if your ladies are older that they have stopped laying altogether. So, you should know how long chickens lay eggs. There is a way to assess if a chicken is still laying.
Since you can experience a decrease in egg production at any time, it is good to preserve eggs when you are getting plenty of them. Learning how to freeze eggs is really simple!
If you need more help with taking care of your chickens, check out The Organized Chicken Keeper for a complete system for managing their health through keeping their supplies stocked and coop clean.