Chickens are usually found in homes and poultry farms. They are regarded as very familiar domestic animals. Sometimes, they are reared in homes as pets and in poultry farms by business entrepreneurs for commercial purposes; hence, their importance to mankind.
They come from a number of different breeds or species which is responsible for the differences observed in their growth and development process. This equally accounts for the differences in the age at which some of them mature and start to lay eggs. While Dominique’s species start to lay eggs between four and five months, the ones known as Rhodes Island Reds may start to lay eggs after attaining about eight months of age whereas, those called Lighter Weight breed may even start to lay eggs earlier.
However, as they start laying eggs, their productivity could be hampered by some prevailing situations which constitute the reasons the females commonly called hens stop to lay eggs some of the times. Such reasons are indicated below as well as the accompanying solutions to each of the problems identified.
15 Reasons hens stop laying eggs and the solutions
1. The Species of the Hen
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As a result of the physiological differences among the various species of chickens mentioned above, each species of hens are born with definite numbers of ova very tiny in size. Consequently, the various species of hens have different capacities for laying eggs in their lifetime. While some have the capacity to lay 1400 eggs in their life time, others can lay up to 1600. Besides, they have varying numbers of eggs they can lay per annum. While the White Leghorns species lay up to 280 eggs in a year, the Barred Plymouth Rock species lay more than 280 per annum. Again, while the Rhodes Island species lay up to 260 eggs in the year, the Golden Comet can; lay as many as between 250 and 300 eggs per annum. Yet, other species come with their different respective quantities of eggs they can lay in the year.
In the light of these vagaries in the number of inherent ova each species has, the quantity of eggs each species could lay in their lifetime and respective quantities of eggs each species could lay per annum, the species that can lay greater quantities per annum have the tendency to exhaust their life time quota earlier than those that lay fewer quantities in a year; hence, they lose their ability to lay eggs even when other hens of the same age but from different species are still laying eggs. However, each of the species ceases to lay eggs as soon as their life time endowed number of ova gets exhausted too. Therefore, no matter the species of a hen, it has limited quantity of eggs that it can lay in its lifetime and could not continue any time it exhausts its ova.
Since the various species of hens are born with definite number of ova which, in turn, controls the quantity of eggs they could lay in their lifetime time as well as the time it will take each of the species to exhaust their respective quantities and become unproductive, there seems to be little or nothing one could do to revert the situation. This is so because it is a natural phenomenon.
However, it is left to the poultry farmer or the individual to obtain necessary information from renowned breeders and hatchers on the characteristics and capabilities of the various species and decide on the one or a combination of the species to breed, depending on the individual or personal objectives. The same applies to every other person who intends to rear the chickens, either as pets or for their eggs and meat.
2. Old Age
This is one of the main reasons a hen will stop to lay eggs. Naturally, as a hen progresses with age, its egg-laying capacity diminishes until it eventually stops to lay eggs entirely. This is irreversible. However, the rate at which egg-laying capacity of a hen diminishes and the time it ceases entirely to lay eggs depends on the respective species ass indicated above. The basic fact is that a hen lays fewer eggs as it gets older and will eventually stop to lay any eggs within its lifetime
The age of animals including the hens, can’t be reversed at any point in time; hence, its adverse effect on the ability of a hen to lay eggs could not be reversed equally. However, some actions could be taken when the existing flock starts to register a visible drop in their reproductive level. They include the following:
- As a flock could comprise of varied species, the breeder should be watchful and identify hens that have ceased to lay eggs entirely and could then take any other desirable actions from the subsequent ones below.
- Dispose of those identified as unproductive by sending them out to chicken retirement homes; sell them off or slaughter them for meat.
- Retain the redundant hens if the flock was initially kept as pets.
- Replace the redundant quantities with young chickens from notable hatchers and breeders.
- Endeavor to make your choice from among the preferred species if replacement is the option chosen.
3. Poor Diet
The feeds meant for chicken, particularly, the hens should be of high quality. Essentially, the feed for layers should contain a high percentage of protein and calcium and should be spiced with other supplements such as pumpkin seeds, high protein treat, laying pellets and eat worms. If and when their feeds lack the required nutrients, their ability to lay eggs as and when due will be adversely affected, thereby causing a drop in the productivity of the hens or outright stoppage of egg-laying.
In order to avert the adverse effect of poor diet on the productivity level of hens, adequate attention should be paid to ensuring that layers are fed with feeds containing the required percentage of nutrients. Eggs are formed with a high percentage of proteins while their shell contains up to four grams of calcium; hence, layers should be fed with feeds which are rich with the specified nutrients in order to ensure enhanced and sustained the productivity of hens
4. Inadequate Supply of Fresh Water
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Chickens love to drink plenty of water as it helps them live well and enhances their productivity. Water constitutes up to 75% of eggs; hence, hens need an adequate and regular supply of clean water as it is necessary not only for their normal metabolic process but for the formation of their eggs. Therefore, lack of regular supply of clean water to chickens, particularly, the hens, has a negative effect on their productivity
Provision of adequate clean water to the hens regularly and ensuring that their water supply channels are kept clean always is very necessary as it enhances the well-being and productivity of hens
5. Inadequate Daylight and High Summer Heat.
Usually, hens require between 12 and 16 hours of daylight to enhance their laying of eggs. A drop in the required amount of daylight affects their productivity. This is usually experienced in the US during winter. The low temperature experienced within this cold winter could keep a hen out of production; hence, some hens may not lay eggs or lay reduced quantities during this period of adverse weather. Similarly, high summer heat could equally have an adverse effect on the productivity of hens
For the reduced hours of daylight during the winter; place lamps or artificial light set with an automated timer in the cage of the hens. It will boost the daylight as well as the level of productivity of hens.
In order to mitigate the adverse effects of the summer heat; ensure adequate ventilation of the cages within their homestead to let in fresh air that would douse the heat level and its adverse effect on the hens.
6. Inadequate Safety And Security Measures
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Naturally, chickens appreciate a safe environment and thrive better within a homestead they consider adequately safe and secure for them. They feel more relaxed and predisposed to function optimally, particularly, within the period they are about to lay their eggs. Therefore, adequate safety measures should always be taken within the environment where the homestead of chickens is located
- Ensure that predators such as stray dogs, hawks and other animals, whose presence could frighten the chickens, are kept out of the environment.
- Prevent children from playing within the chickens homestead.
- Limit loud noise and movement of vehicles around your flock to prevent frightening the hens.
- Arrange for a sizeable number of roosters within their homestead; the presence of the roosters tends to offer protections to the hens.
7. Environmental Distortions
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Chickens are lovers of a stable environment and feel safer and more relaxed within such a setting. They feel a bit rattled when new additions are made to an existing flock. During the process of introduction of new chickens, there could be some shoving and other forms of movements and adjustments for the first few days.
This will give rise to some measure of distortions within their environment. During this period of interventions and or distortions, the hens will not be laying eggs. However, egg-laying will resume, once more, as soon as the situation settles down
The breeder should make conscious effort to ensure that the introduction of new chickens to an existing the flock should be well planned ahead of the time so that the process actually lasts for a few days.
Besides, the breeder should tolerate the shortfall as it is white inevitable, particularly, when it is imperative that the redundant old hens should be replaced with new chickens in order to shore up the depleting productivity of the existing flock.
Many poultry diseases such as avian influenza hamper hens from laying eggs. Others include bird flu, respiratory viruses, parasites such as lice, mites, worms and some others.
Since attack of diseases causes serious disruptions for hens laying eggs and could cause them to stop laying eggs or even lead to their death, the breeder should, as a starting point, suspect the attack of the diseases on the flock as soon as a drop in the quantity of eggs laid by the hens is observed. This will be followed by other actions below:
- Look out for possible symptoms such as dull and listless appearance, breeding through the nostrils, watery eyes, lameness and death of some of them.
- When any or some of these symptoms are observed, call the attention of a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.
- Quarantine the infected birds to safeguard the healthy ones.
- Replace the dead with young ones from a reputable hatchery and do not replace with adult chickens bought from other breeders.
- Maintain a clean and healthy environment within your coop and its surroundings
Once in a year, chickens molt. Molting is a process, whereby, chickens lose their old feathers and grow new ones to replace them. It usually sets in at the beginning of winter and corresponds with the period of time when the bodies of chickens rejuvenate and become susceptible to the attack of diseases. During this period, the hens cease from laying eggs
This is a natural occurrence; there is nothing one could do to stop the chickens from undergoing this process that allows them to rejuvenate and become better for it to continue their egg-laying thereafter.
10. Broody Hens
When hens are brooding, they have the natural tendency to sit on a clutch of eggs to incubate and hatch them. While the period of incubation lasts for about three weeks, it takes a hen between 5 and ten weeks or more, to nurture its young ones. As long as this lasts, hens will not lay hens but get preoccupied with fending for and nurturing their young ones until they grow old enough to fend for themselves. See below
This is also a natural phenomenon, and the process cannot be stopped; however, the breeder can dissuade the hens from sitting on their eggs by organizing a regular collection of eggs as they are laid to avoid accumulation of a clutch and the resultant desire of the hens to sit on them
11. Insufficient Coop
Chickens require sufficient place for them to roam about and function optimally. In a situation where there are many hens in a coop or cage, they will hardly lay eggs. Similarly, hens that are reared in a free-range require adequate space within their homestead in order to lay their eggs unhindered.
The breeder should ensure that coops with adequate space are built for hens to ensure that they are not inconvenienced by the lack of space. Besides, the flock population could be reduced to a manageable size to decongest the available space in a coop
12. Empty Feeders
Chickens love to see their feeders filled with their normal feed, even when they are not hungry. In this way, they derive the impression that they would have enough to eat all the time; hence, they remain in happy mood most of the times and become predisposed to their normal egg-laying function; otherwise, there is the tendency for them to think that they might be subjected to starvation any time which could stress them.
In order to avert the negative impression the hens could derive from seeing their feeders empty and the resultant effect it could have on their productivity, efforts should be made to ensure that the chicken feeders are not left empty most of the times.
13. Dirty Coops
Dirty coops or cages discourage hens from laying their eggs. Hens that are set to lay their hens usually, hesitate to get into their nesting box to lay eggs when they are dirty
Nesting boxes should be cleaned on regular basis; at least, once or twice in a week. Besides, materials such as wood shavings, straw, and shrouded paper should be introduced into the coop. This will help to keep it dry and minimize the stench from their droppings
14. Inadequate support Facility.
Provision of support facility such as enclosed spaces in a hen house, in form of sizeable nets, encourage them to lay their eggs as and when due. It makes it easy for the pullets or young hens to locate suitable places for their nets during their search for such convenient places. On the contrary, the absence of such facilities could dissuade the hens from laying their eggs at will
The breeder should endeavor to provide such facility as it encourages the hens to lay their eggs with ease, particularly, the young ones
During the summer period, laying eggs by chickens comes to its peak. Within the tail end of this period, the hens would start to experience fatigue. This has the tendency to affect their productivity level.
Natural justice, in this regard, demands that the hens should observe some rest period to allow them to recuperate and bounce back to their normal productivity level thereafter. However, the breeder should acknowledge the necessity and assist the hens by ensuring that they are well fed with quality food. In this way, the temporary drop will be overcome within the shortest possible time.
In the light of the foregoing, the major reasons hens stop laying eggs and the corresponding solutions to the problems identified have been lucidly highlighted
How long do chickens lay eggs?
In keeping with all that have been explained at the beginning of the first part of this write-up, the issue of the determination of the time chickens start to lay eggs, the quantity of eggs they can lay in their lifetime or in a year as well as the time they can stop laying eggs, depend much on the various species of the chickens involved; hence, the question on” how long do chickens lay eggs” is subjective.
This is more so as it has been explained that the various species of chickens are born with different traits, specifically, being born with different specific numbers of tiny ova which accounts for other peculiarities such as the ability to lay different quantity of eggs in their lifetime as well as in the year. /Based on these notable existing basic differences among the various species of chickens, it follows, therefore, that the issue of when, how and how long chickens lay eggs lacks uniformity due to these different natural endowments of their respective species.
Similarly, it follows too that the productivity pattern of f the hens which come from different species of chickens cannot be expected to be homogeneous because of these fundamental functional differences among the various species.
This explains further, why some hens lay eggs for two to three years and retire, while some others retire after laying eggs for three years. Besides, it also explains why some hens lay eggs for between five and seven years before they eventually stop. It is even not unusual to see hens that can lay eggs for up to nine years before they become unproductive. They are often found from a particular species known as Orpington.
In the light of the foregoing, it could be deduced that there is no specific age at which hens start to lay eggs and there is also no definite period of time for hens to remain productive. On the average, a sharp decline in the productivity of hens become apparent after two to three years or even more; the older they become, the lesser the number of eggs they lay until the eventually stop to lay eggs entirely.
Therefore, how long chickens lay eggs cannot be determined irrespective of their species.