Learn about the 5 main reasons your chickens aren’t laying eggs from chicken expert and author, Carissa Bonham.
Perhaps you’ve been waiting for your chickens to start laying eggs for the first time, or they suddenly stopped laying. It’s certainly concerning when you don’t know what the cause is. Today’s post was written by the lovely Carissa Bonham, and she has a few pointers that may help you figure out what’s going on.
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My name is Carissa and I’m so thrilled Victoria is allowing me to share with you today! I write at Creative Green Living about healthy choices for families that are beautiful, delicious and really work. I’m also the author of the forthcoming book, Proven Techniques for Keeping Healthy Chickens.
One of the most fun, healthy choices my family decided to make was to raise chickens for their eggs (And to be a cute pet. And for their hilarious antics). My kids are learning about responsibility in caring for animals, I get all the eggs my family can eat, and I also get all the adorable photos I can stand of my kids snuggling chickens. It’s a win-win-win all around.
Have you been following along with Victoria’s adventures raising baby chickens? If you started baby chicks this year like she did, the next question you’re probably asking yourself is Where are my eggs???
Getting your very first chicken egg is SO exciting! This is a picture of the very first egg my flock ever laid. It was just laying in the middle of the run one day. I’m sure the chicken that laid it was just about as surprised as I was when I found it!
If you have been pacing like an impatient chicken mama trying to figure out WHY your girls aren’t laying, take at look at these five common reasons your hens may not be laying eggs quite yet. Hopefully you’ll find the source of your problem!
5 Reasons Your Chickens Aren’t Laying Eggs
Are They Too Young?
While some breeds of chicken will start to lay as early as 16 weeks, others can take much longer. Some chickens won’t be ready to lay eggs until they are closer to six months (or about 26 weeks). I have one chicken who didn’t start laying eggs regularly until she was almost 10 months old!
I have a different chicken that laid an egg around 30 weeks, laid another egg two weeks later and then didn’t lay a single egg for another six months! What a slacker! All that to say: Sometimes it’s not you: it’s them.
Signs that a hen has reached maturity and will be ready to lay soon include:
- “Bowing down” to you when you are near them or are hovering over them.
- Their comb and wattles changing from pink to red
- She spends time checking out the nesting boxes and other cozy spots
- A plump and fluffy but with a moist, relaxed looking vent
Do They Have Enough Food?
Making eggs is a resource-intense process for a chicken. They need nutrient rich food with plenty of protein and calcium in order for their bodies to have all they need to do it well. If you feed them daily and they finish everything you set out, try increasing the amount of feed you give to see if that makes a difference. Be sure you’re giving them a high quality feed with plenty of protein.
Are They Hiding?
Since you’re a good chicken keeper, I’m sure you have set up a snuggly little nesting box for them. Comfy bedding? Check! Cozy spot? Check! Dummy eggs to help them get the hint? Check, check, check!
Sometimes despite doing all the right things for our hens, their little bird brains get some crazy ideas. Who wants to lay eggs in a safe, comfy nesting box when you can dig a hole under a bush and lay them there? Or in the compost bin? Or under the porch?
Once again, sometimes it’s not you: it’s them. If you think your birds should definitely be laying by now, it’s worth taking a walk around their enclosure (or checking under your shrubbery and porch if they free range) to make sure they didn’t start to lay in their own alternative spot and just forgot to send you the memo.
Are They Getting Enough Light?
There is a direct connection between how much light a chicken gets and how many eggs it produces. Is your coop in a super shady spot? Maybe it’s too shady. Try and adjust their enclosure so there are both shady spots and sunny spots. If that’s just not possible, consider giving them some free-range outings on a regular basis.
Light can become a significant issue during the winter. In northern regions when the days get quite short, egg production can drop dramatically even if it isn’t very cold. If you combine short daylight hours with lots of shade (so they really aren’t getting sunshine), you may want to consider adding some supplemental lighting for them –even if it’s just in their run during daylight hours.
Are They Molting?
This isn’t going to be a problem with your brand new chickens but if you notice a sudden drop in egg production once they do start to lay, molting may be the culprit.
Growing fresh feathers is hard work and most chickens will stop laying entirely during their molts. Be sure to give them lots of high protein food to help support their body’s natural process of re-growing feathers and in a few weeks they should be back to their regular egg laying cycles.
I hope you found this article helpful! If you keep backyard chickens (or are thinking about getting backyard chickens), please pick up a copy of my new book: Proven Techniques for Keeping Healthy Chickens. It has 101 chicken keeping tricks, tips and hacks for making chicken keeping as easy for you as possible!
I’d also love to have you visit me online! Check out more chicken keeping articles on Creative Green Living or follow my chickens on Instagram (it’s totally normal for chickens to have their own Instagram accounts!). Have a chicken keeping question? Tweet me and I’ll do my best to help!
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