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Why Have my Hens Stopped Laying

25 16:34:23

A question we are often asked especially as winter sets in is "Why have my hens stopped laying and is this normal?" Well hopefully the answer to this is "Yes it is normal for hens to stop laying at certain times of the year". However there are several reasons why hens stop laying and we will look at these in this article.

Shortening Day Length

Hens need 14 hours of daylight to maintain egg production and so as day length drops below 12 hours, production will decrease and frequently stop. This will happen naturally in the Western Hemisphere from October through to February/ March. Artificial light can be used to prevent this and maintain a day length of at least 14 hours. It is best to extend the morning hours, letting the birds roost naturally as the sun sets. A 40 watt light with a timer is sufficient per 100 square feet of coop.

Poor Diet

Laying eggs uses a lot of energy and if maximum egg production is to be achieved it is essential that the hen has a well-balanced diet. Inadequate levels of energy, protein or calcium can often cause a decrease in egg production. This is why it is so important to supply your laying hens with a constant supply of nutritionally balanced layer food which contains a healthy 16% - 18% protein. Feeding too much whole grains, scratch feeds and kitchen scraps can cause the bird's diet to become improperly balanced. Calcium rich oyster shells or similar should also be freely available.

In addition as eggs are made up of over 70% water one of the most common reasons for a drop in egg production is a lack of fresh water. This can often happen in winter when the water may freeze and the bird is unable to drink.



One of the first signs that a hen is unwell may be a drop in egg production, keep an eye on the bird for any other symptoms such as watery eyes or breathing difficulties. If you suspect a disease, contact a poultry veterinarian for help in examining your flock to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Age of the Hens

After two or three years, many hens egg productivity declines. This varies greatly from bird to bird and good layers will lay about 50 weeks per laying cycle. These cycles will be interrupted by a rest period when the bird moults. Poorer layers and older hens will moult more often and lay less.


Any stress such as moving, handling, changes in environmental conditions or a fright (e.g from a predator or a loud noise) can all contribute to or be the main cause for reduced egg production. Parasites such as mites can also cause problems.

Finally if your hens are free range and egg production has stopped or dropped off it may also be worth checking that the birds are not just hiding their eggs somewhere or they are being eaten by predators or even by other hens.