As a poultry farmer, there’s nothing more distressing than discovering that your chickens have suddenly stopped laying eggs. It’s a problem that’s surprisingly common for chicken owners, and one that can be difficult to diagnose and correct.
But it doesn’t have to spell the end of your egg production. With the right approach and a bit of detective work, you can get to the bottom of what’s causing your chickens to stop laying eggs.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the possible causes, as well as offer tips on how to troubleshoot your flock and get them back to laying as soon as possible. Whether you’re dealing with a sudden drop in egg production or a total cessation of egg-laying, the answers you need are just a few clicks away.
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What are the common causes of chickens stopping laying eggs?
Naturally, it’s important to identify what’s causing your chickens to stop laying eggs if you want to get to the bottom of the issue quickly. But when you start researching the causes of chicken egg production decline, you’ll end up wondering if there’s a single common factor to blame. The truth is that there are a number of factors and issues that can affect your flock’s egg-laying ability, each of which we’ll look at below. But first, let’s take a look at a few common factors that can cause your chickens to stop laying eggs.
- Egg Quality – If your chickens are producing poor-quality eggs, there’s a good chance that they’ll suddenly stop laying eggs. This is particularly likely if your flock has been subjected to an environmental issue, such as an outbreak of salmonella.
- Egg Quantity – Sudden drops in egg production are also often related to a drop in egg quantity. A change in feed, nutritional considerations, or a health issue can all affect your chickens’ egg-laying abilities, causing them to produce fewer eggs than normal.
- Poultry Age – Another factor you should keep an eye out for is the age of your chickens. Chickens have productive lifespans, and the older they are, the less likely they are to produce new eggs. Early-age egg production decline is a well-known problem for poultry farmers, and it’s likely that this is the cause of your egg-laying problems.
- Poultry Diet – Finally, you should keep an eye out for any significant dietary changes, particularly if your chickens have suddenly stopped laying eggs and you’d been feeding them the same feed for a while. This could be an issue with your feed, or it could be a sign that your chickens have started to show signs of age.
How to tell if your chickens are actually laying eggs
Keeping an eye out for signs that your chickens are actually laying eggs is an important first step. It’s likely that, if your chickens have stopped laying eggs, you’ll notice one or more of the following signs:
- The flock looks healthy. A healthy flock will have a strong, well-integrated appearance, with all of the chickens in the same group and at roughly the same height. They should also be eating and drinking properly. Signs of poor health, such as a loss of appetite or a lack of water, may also make it difficult to tell if your chickens are actually laying eggs.
- Eggshells appear on the ground. Chickens do most of their egg-laying in the early morning and evening, so you usually won’t find eggshells until then. If, however, you do notice any signs of egg-laying, you may be able to tell if the chickens are actually laying eggs. Eggshells are crumbly and break into tiny fragments when they’re laid.
- No signs of egg-laying. If none of these signs turns up when you check the flock, you can assume that they’re not laying eggs. This is a bit of a red herring, but it’s the best way to rule out the possibility that the problem is something else.
What environmental factors can affect egg production?
Like humans, chickens are susceptible to a number of environmental factors that can affect egg production. Some of these factors are likely to affect your flock, but others may only affect commercial operations.
- Egg Quality – Like all birds, chickens are prone to poor-quality egg production. This can be caused by an unusually high number of poor-quality eggs being laid, but it can also be caused by an unusual dietary change, an unusually high level of stress, or a change in the feed being used.
- Age – The general rule of thumb when it comes to poultry age is that, as long as the flock is healthy, you can expect the oldest chickens to start producing fewer eggs than the youngest. This is largely down to age-related physiological decline, and it’s something that you’ll have to accept in commercial operations.
- Poultry Diet – Likewise, your chickens are likely to stop laying eggs if they start to eat a diet that’s not suited to their needs. This can happen if you change your feed without changing your flock’s diet, if you use an inappropriately high level of grain in your feed mix, or if you mix your feed with the wrong ingredients.
- Water Quality – Another environmental factor that can affect your chickens’ egg-laying ability is water quality. This may seem like a stretch, but it’s worth bearing in mind that chickens are primarily waterbirds. Depending on where you live, water quality can be an important factor that affects your poultry’s health and, therefore, their egg-laying ability.
How to identify health problems that affect egg production
With any problem that’s affecting your flock’s egg-laying ability, you should always look to identify any health issues. This is particularly important if you suspect that your chickens aren’t laying enough eggs, as health issues that affect egg production can often be identified and corrected.
To identify any health issues, it’s a good idea to get a veterinary check-up. This isn’t a medical check, and it doesn’t involve your flock being put down. It simply involves you getting a quick check-up to identify any health issues that may be affecting your flock’s egg-laying abilities.
If you do discover that your flock isn’t laying enough eggs, you should immediately change their feed or consider changing the farm’s environmental conditions (for example, by moving the flock to an environment that’s cooler). You should also immediately introduce an extra dose of supplemental nutrients, such as the yolk-rich fertiliser Bio-Gro.
Nutritional considerations that can affect egg production
The table below outlines some of the common dietary considerations that can affect egg production.
Keep in mind that, while these are common dietary considerations that can also affect your flock’s egg-laying ability, they aren’t necessarily the only ones. It’s worth remembering that there are a number of other dietary considerations that can also affect your flock’s health, and they’re worth keeping an eye out for regardless of your dietary choices.
When thinking about which dietary considerations may be affecting your chickens’ egg production, it’s a good idea to focus on those that are most likely to affect your flock.
Avoiding and correcting stress-induced egg production decline
It’s worth keeping a close eye out for any signs of stress in your flock, as it can affect the health of your chickens and have a significant effect on their egg-laying ability. Signs of stress include a change in behaviour, such as being aggressive towards other chickens or aggressively pecking at the floor, as well as a change in the appearance of your chickens.
There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of your flock showing signs of stress, including regularly rotating their housing, providing shaded areas, and providing a source of cooling water in the form of a wading pool.
If your chickens show signs of stress, you should quickly change their diet, introduce an extra dose of supplemental nutrients, and change the environmental conditions in which they’re kept.