Chickens produce delicious eggs and meat, as well as being a joy around the property (as long as you can control the smell).
Many newbies expect chickens to just lay eggs as soon as they get settled into their new home.
Sometimes, it’s not quite that easy.
In ideal conditions, chickens lay an egg about once a day.
If you’re not getting the output you expected, it can get frustrating.
Here are 10 potential reasons your chickens are not laying eggs.
Why Are My Chickens Not Laying Eggs? (10 Potential Reasons)
Chickens not only need light to see, but they also need it for egg production.
When chickens don’t get the light they need, it throws off their hormones.
A lack of proper light is the most common cause of chickens not producing eggs as expected.
Ideal lighting conditions consist of at least 16 hours of natural light every single day.
To get the proper amount of light, many chicken farmers allow chickens to roam outside on sunny days.
If you can’t let the chickens out for 12 to 14 hours a day (not exceeding 16 hours a day), you will want to ensure that the light can get inside your chickens’ domicile effectively.
You can do this by including numerous windows in the walls and the ceiling of your chicken coop.
When winter comes and days get shorter, you can still encourage egg production throughout winter by providing supplemental light.
However, supplemental light should only be used in winter months of extremely dreary days, and it’s important to note that natural light is the better option.
Use one LED bulb (three to nine watts) for every 100 feet of space and put all of the lights on timers.
Chickens perform the best when they receive consistent light as opposed to getting light at awkward times that can disrupt their sleep schedules and natural internal clocks.
Too Much Light
Some chicken farmers overcorrect and provide an excessive amount of light for chickens at too young of an age.
Too much light can force a chicken’s body to develop before it’s ready.
Unfortunately, this can reduce the chicken’s egg-laying years since they developed so early.
You do not want to provide artificial light to chickens under 16 to 20 weeks.
What Areas In The United States Provide The Best Light For Chicken Farmers?
While you can effectively raise chickens in most states, the states with the best lighting, climate, and weather conditions for chicken farmers are:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Arkansas produces the most chickens in the country and is home to the famous Tyson chicken brand.
2. Poor Nutrition
Chickens require a rather strict diet to get the 38 different nutrients they need to produce eggs.
Out of the required nutrients, calcium is the most important when it comes to making eggs, but they need all 38 nutrients.
Chicken feed usually comes with everything a laying hen needs.
The problem exists when chickens eat more than just the feed you provide them.
Chicken farmers may sneak the chickens some table scraps, thinking of it as a treat.
While the chickens may enjoy the treat, keep their diet to at least 90% chicken feed.
Every chicken needs about one-half of a pound of chicken feed every day.
Chickens may require more feed in the fall while molting.
Most chicken farmers feed the chickens in the morning and maybe again in the afternoon if necessary.
You don’t need to worry about overfeeding the chickens.
They eat until they are full and then they stop, so you can work with an “open bowl” philosophy.
Providing too much food can be a waste of feed, though.
Analyze how much feed you have left at the end of the day to reduce wasting feed.
Furthermore, providing too much feed can also lead to obese chickens.
They may not eat until they die, like a goldfish, but they can eat to the point of getting a little chubby.
Chickens can become overweight due to overfeeding but also:
- Artificial lighting
- Lack of exercise
If you have a chubby chicken, verify that the weight gain didn’t result from illness, then put the chicken on a diet and increase the amount of time they roam outside.
Otherwise, the chickens may experience liver problems and heat exhaustion to the point that they don’t produce eggs as expected.
What Are The Different Types Of Chicken Feed?
There are numerous different types of chicken feed, mostly aimed at giving chickens the unique nutrition they need at different points in their development and life.
Some of the different types of chicken feed include:
- Chick starter: high-protein feed given to chicks up until four to six weeks
- Grower feed: medium-protein feed given to chicks from four to six weeks until they start laying eggs
- Layer feed: high-calcium feed that promotes egg production
- Flock raiser: multi-purpose feed for young chicks, hens, and roosters
Naturally, your chickens will give you more eggs when you give them layer feed.
Some chicken feed may include unnecessary antibiotics designed to increase growth.
However, these antibiotics can actually decrease egg production and cause health problems for your chickens.
Do what you can to eliminate antibiotics from your chickens’ food.
Adult chickens molt every year, usually in autumn, after they reach the age of 18 months.
Molting refers to the process of losing and regrowing feathers.
Feathers are soft and can deteriorate throughout the year.
The molting process ensures that the chicken has high-quality feathers to protect them from the cold weather.
During this time, the chicken’s body won’t have as much energy to lay eggs, resulting in significantly decreased egg production.
Molting generally lasts two months.
You can’t do a lot to stop the molting process.
However, you can switch to a high-protein feed, such as grower feed, to help facilitate the process so that the chickens can go back to laying eggs as quickly as possible.
You can also keep molting chickens under low-stress conditions.
Chickens lay fewer and fewer eggs as they get older.
Chicks start laying eggs as early as 18 weeks of age and continue to produce eggs for the rest of their lives.
They have a finite number of eggs inside of them at birth, and they produce the eggs until they are gone.
However, their egg production peaks during the first year at about 250 eggs in a year and decreases each following year until the end of their lives.
It’s best to get chickens when young to take advantage of their higher egg production in their youth.
Some chicks take longer than others to grow to maturity.
If your chicken still isn’t producing eggs after six months, give it some time.
Some chickens have been known to take longer than eight months.
What Should I Do When The Chickens Get Too Old To Lay Eggs?
All good things come to an end.
Just because a chicken gets past the age where they can produce eggs, doesn’t mean they become completely useless.
In fact, chickens provide additional value after they stop laying eggs, such as:
- Eat bugs and pests
- Control weeds
- Provide nutrients for the soil
At the end of the chicken’s egg-producing years, you can allow the chicken to utilize its nurturing side.
Instead of laying many eggs, allow your chicken to produce a new chick in its place.
Older chickens make the best mothers as they have the knowledge to protect the egg and prefer resting on the egg and mothering the new chick compared to high activity.
If you don’t need new chicks, you can use your older chicken for meat.
Just keep in mind that older chickens tend to have tougher meat.
Finally, you can allow the chicken to live out the rest of its life naturally until it passes away and you dispose of it properly.
Chickens need to feel comfortable, which includes having plenty of room to make egg laying comfortable.
If your chickens live in an indoor habitat, every chicken should have at least four square feet of room.
If the chickens live in an outdoor enclosure, they need at least five to 10 square feet of room.
Chickens don’t only need enough space, but they also need their own place to nest, known as a nesting box.
A nesting box is where the chickens relax and lay their eggs.
Every four chickens should have an adequate nesting box filled with fresh bedding.
The bedding in the nesting box should be changed as needed.
While you don’t need a separate nesting box for each chicken, you also don’t want to provide fewer nesting boxes than necessary.
If there aren’t enough nesting boxes, it can lead to chickens laying eggs outside of the nesting box, which can lead to damaged eggs.
Don’t forget to clear out the nesting boxes regularly.
If you don’t remove the eggs regularly and quickly, the chickens may lay eggs elsewhere or even generate brooding behavior.
You will clear out eggs one to two times a day for the best results.
Creating Your Own Nesting Box
You want your nesting box to be about 12” x 12” x 12”.
Most people build their own nesting boxes as they aren’t overly complicated.
Nesting boxes are usually made of wood, although you can find premade ones made out of plastic.
You will make a simple wood box with wood sectionals inside to separate spaces for each chicken.
The nesting box should go in a dark and quiet place in the chicken coop.
You should also elevate it about one to three feet above ground to protect the eggs from predators.
Chickens have personalities.
Not all of the personalities are great.
Some chickens are always aggressive while some become aggressive when forced to live in confined quarters.
If you notice that certain chickens seem excessively aggressive, you should separate them from the other chickens.
If you leave the aggressive chickens around the other chickens, it can cause stress.
The calmer chickens also may not want to produce eggs near the aggressive hen.
Finally, an aggressive hen may even hurt the other hens.
6. Brooding Behavior
Keep in mind that chickens naturally have an instinct to hatch the eggs they lay.
The word for this hormonal behavior is “brooding behavior.”
When a hen gets into this motherly, nurturing mode, it will automatically focus on hatching the egg and stop producing new eggs.
Even if you take the egg away, the chicken will continue the brooding behavior until you break it.
If you do decide to let the hen hatch the egg, it can take nine weeks for the chicken to start laying eggs again.
How To Break A Broody Hen
You can tell a hen is experiencing broody behavior if they create a nest and stay in a dark, quiet place most of the day.
If you allow a broody hen to continue this behavior, you will have to be patient before you see eggs from that hen again.
Unfortunately, the other hens can pick up on the broody behavior, too.
Some tips on how to break a broody hen:
- Remove bedding
- Separate from the other hens
- Use cold water in the water bottle
Chickens produce eggs best when temperatures are between 52° F and 79° F.
If temperatures deviate from this range drastically, it can affect egg production.
Many chicken breeds can withstand cool temperatures rather well.
The chickens should be content with just a little bit of supplemental heat in the form of heat lamps and heat mats.
You don’t want to increase the heat too much compared to the temperature outside since the chickens may struggle to adjust their internal systems.
Since most chickens can lay eggs in cold weather, you will need to determine whether the real problem is the temperature or the amount of sunlight, as sunlight usually diminishes in the winter.
Most of the time, the real problem is the lack of light.
Cold-Hardy Chicken Breeds
If you want a chicken that produces eggs during the winter, you need to buy the right breed of chicken.
Even many southern states can benefit from cold-hardy chickens for those rare occasions when the weather does get cold.
Cold-hardy chicken breeds include:
- Rhode Island Red
- Plymouth Rock
- New Hampshire Red
The Chantecler, in particular, holds up the best in cold climates (which also makes them slightly more expensive than the other breeds).
The Chantecler can withstand Canadian winters and still produce eggs.
Unfortunately, they aren’t as well-suited for summer heat since they have extremely thick feathers.
The Orpington is the most common winter chicken since it can hold up to both cold weather and heat.
Chickens taste great to us, and they taste great to other animals, too.
Chickens will not feel safe enough to produce eggs if they experience predators too often.
Some of the most common chicken predators include:
- Mountain lions
You need to protect your chickens from these predators.
To protect your chickens, you should
start by using chicken wire and ensuring that all doors and windows are secure.
Electric fencing will provide even better results, and you can use mesh on the top of any outdoor enclosures to prevent bird attacks.
You should also be especially careful when you let the chickens out for the day to watch out for predators.
Provide places for the chickens to run for shelter if they do need to run from an attack.
9. Loud Noises
Chickens don’t like loud noises.
Do your best to keep your chicken coop away from a lot of noise, like highways and electrical equipment.
You also want to use building materials that minimize noise, such as mass loaded vinyl (MLV).
Sometimes the noise comes from the chickens themselves.
If your chickens make a lot of noise, some experts suggest using the time-tested method of using a spray bottle filled with water.
When the chickens make unnecessary noise, spray them with water until they learn not to make as much noise.
This conditioning may take time.
When a chicken gets sick, it won’t be able to produce eggs like normal.
In fact, reduced egg production is an indicator that a chicken may feel sick.
Other signs of a sick chicken include:
- Abnormal dropping
- Lack of appetite
- Pale coloring
If you do suspect your chicken doesn’t feel well, you should remove the chicken from the rest of the flock just in case its illness is contagious.
Ensure that the sick chicken has plenty of water to keep it hydrated.
Many chickens will get better on their own after a day or two.
If your chicken doesn’t seem to be getting better on its own, you can administer a couple of different medications depending on the problem (under the guidance of a farm veterinarian).
You can try chicken formula specially designed to promote proper digestive health if the chicken isn’t eating, and its waste appears discolored or watery.
However, you need to be careful about what you feed your chicken.
Do not change its diet too drastically.
Mix the new food into its regular food at very conservative percentages.
Antibiotics may help get rid of any infections the chicken may be fighting.
When your chickens don’t produce eggs as expected, it can be extremely frustrating.
Don’t give up.
Do your best to diagnose the problem and take the appropriate action to resolve the problem before it turns into something unmanageable.NEXT: Why Is Sunscreen So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)