“Did you get the eggs today?” My husband asked. I was a little nervous to tell him yes, even though our egg basket looked bare.
It was up to me to figure out what was going on with the ladies. Winter time seems to be the most common season our hens slow down egg production. I totally get it, they need the extra energy to stay warm. Another common time when I seem to have fewer eggs is molting.
Let’s take a look at some of the common reasons hens stop laying eggs.
Did you know that even an hour without water can affect your hen’s laying schedule? In the winter we would keep the water OUT of the coop. Mainly our chickens roost in our 100-year-old barn and the heated water bucket doesn’t really work to go inside their coop.
When I started giving them water through the night I noticed I would get one or two eggs before they were ready to come out.
When it’s freezing out I can’t have the electric water bowl inside. I end up giving the chickens this Rooster Booster. It’s only $8 on Amazon and it has HELPED a bunch. The first brutal winter we had chickens the water was freezing even in our heated bucket and the chickens were getting frostbite.
Keeping them hydrated is so important. This stuff helps out and now I give it to them throughout the winter. I’ve noticed it helps with the hens laying eggs in winter too.
Here in upstate New York, we tend to forget that Fall lasts into December. It’s a safe bet we have had several days of snow at this point. Yet, our chickens will still be molting in late fall. When they are molting their bodies are working on that, not egg production.
It helps to give the Rooster Booster after molting as well and you will notice the ladies kicking back into gear in no time. Molting is a natural process and one you just have to go with the flow. The typical time of molting is 8 weeks sometimes you can see birds up to 16 weeks.
I’ve noticed our older hens ( 4 years and up ) go through the molting process much slower. Age is something to take into consideration.
When it’s in the negative numbers in winter the chickens are using their energy to keep warm. If you need tips on how to keep your chickens warm this year check out the article here.
Otherwise just keep the ladies warm and wait for the weather to warm up. Stress comes into play here as well. If a hen is stressed it will disrupt her laying cycle. Any may give you a few of these weird looking eggs.
Typically we see shorter daylight time in winter. You will notice the hens going in for the night earlier and earlier. Less daylight means less time for eggs. You can add a light to your chicken coop to encourage the girls to lay.
What I personally do is for the whole month of November and halfway through December, I let them be. If they need to take a few days off, I let nature play the course. We stop selling eggs at the road starting in November to stockpile our own eggs to get us through the winter. I don’t expect all the hens to lay every day.
At the end of December, I start giving the Rooster Booster- some of the ends are just finishing their molt at this point too. We add just a regular light outside the chicken coop. It helps with predators at night and it’s still pretty dark in the barn in the morning so it will help to encourage the hen’s natural instincts to lay eggs again.
Every homesteader will do things slightly differently. You can add a light right away to keep your hens laying. A lot of our chickens are now 3+ years.
Age is a factor to consider. The average lifespan of a chicken is typically 3- 7 years. Of course, some may live longer.
With older hens, they may lay fewer eggs, but I have found our older hens lay some pretty large eggs. If you have an older hen who just isn’t laying anymore it may be time to bring in a new flock in the next season.
Quick Things to Look for if Your Hen is Done Laying Eggs
- Comb- pale or light colored probably has stopped laying eggs.
- Vent– The vent should be moist. If it isn’t and looks a little dusty she probably isn’t laying.
- Abdomen– you can feel the abdomen as a soft, but if it feels hard she probably isn’t laying eggs anymore.
- Keel to Vent Space- The distance between the vent and the keel bone should be around two fingerbreadths. If you are closer to four, she’s probably done laying.
If your hen is wanting to hatch her own she will stop laying. In our flock it’s not our silkies that have been broody like I’ve read, it’s our Black Australorps who I always find sitting on eggs.
It could just be your hen isn’t feeling her best. You can go through these 20 signs to see if your hen is ill. For me i always can tell by looking at a chickens comb or vent. If it’s slightly off I pick them up an examine further.
If you free range your chickens always check around the homestead to see if she is hiding her eggs somewhere too.
Do you have any other tips to add?