Knowing why a chicken may stop laying eggs is important; knowing if it is serious or not will make all the difference to being a happy chicken owner. But when do chickens stop laying eggs?
Depending on the breed, chickens typically stop laying eggs between the ages of five and six. There are several reasons for this decrease in egg production. As hens get older, their bodies produce less of the hormones needed for laying eggs. In addition, older hens often suffer from health problems that make it difficult to lay eggs consistently. As a result, chicken owners should be prepared for a decrease in egg production as their hen’s age. However, with proper care, older chickens can still enjoy a long and healthy life.
If a chicken doesn’t lay an egg for one day, this is normal, but if it stops laying eggs for more than a few days, it is time to diagnose the reason or call the vet.
how old are chickens when they stop laying eggs?
Did you know that hens don’t lay eggs forever? In fact, they typically stop laying eggs around the age of 5 or 6. As hens get older, their bodies produce less of the reproductive hormones needed for egg production is this is the most common reason chickens why chickens stop laying eggs.
Healthy young chickens will lay one egg every 24 to 26 hours. You can expect your hen to keep this up for the first two to three years. As your hens get past the age of 3 years, you’ll notice their egg production decreases. This is a natural process and can not be avoided something definitely worth considering when your looking to pick up your first flock of hens.
We’ve had over 6 flocks over the years, all of which had a very similar egg production, we always noticed a decrease around the 2-3 year mark. At this stage, your hens will drop the number of eggs they produce by approximately 20% each year as a general rule of thumb.
Why A Chicken Stops Laying For One Day
If your chicken skips one day of laying but resumes the next, this is nothing to worry about.
The natural egg-laying cycle of a hen usually takes about 25 to 27 hours if the chicken is young and healthy. Once that egg is laid, the chicken starts to produce another and lay it a little later than the previous day. This happens until it seems like your chicken skipped a day.
Why Do Chickens Stop Laying Eggs?
Sometimes when a chicken stops laying eggs, there is nothing to worry about. The chicken is going through something natural or is responding to something in its environment, and it will start laying again soon.
At other times, you need to watch your girls closely, or you may even need to intervene.
There are four possible reasons a chicken will stop laying eggs: age (which I talked about above), stress, molting, and reduced daylight.
Environmental Stress or Distress May Cause A Chicken To Stop Laying Eggs
Other than aging, two primary reasons that a chicken will stop laying eggs are environmental stress and distress: let’s tackle them separately.
What Causes A Chicken To Stress?
These are some common causes of stress for your chickens:
- A dirty or small nesting area
- Loud noises
If you remove these stressors from a chicken it should bounce back fairly quickly and start laying eggs again soon.
Dirty Or Too Small Nesting Area For Chickens
Clean poop out and replace bedding regularly.
Similarly, if too many hens are in a coop, they will be stressed by the other chickens or noise and stop laying. Check out my article on how much space chickens need here to get it right.
Ongoing And Loud Noises Stop Chickens Laying Eggs
Building work next to your coop or some other loud and ongoing noise may make your chickens temporarily stop laying.
A quiet and peaceful environment is always best.
The Presence Of Predators Can Stop A Chicken Laying Eggs
If a chicken senses danger or feels threatened, it will stop laying eggs. This usually happens when it senses it is aware of a predator such as foxes.
Even if the predator doesn’t get into the chicken coop, its presence may be enough to stop your chicken from laying eggs for a while.
Use humane methods of keeping predators away from your chickens and coop.
What Causes A Chicken Distress?
In most cases, a chicken will experience distress when it experiences physical trauma for an extended period.
A chicken will be in distress when one of the following is a factor:
- Poor Nutrition or Dehydration
- Parasites & Disease
- Extreme weather
Poor Nutrition And Dehydration Put A Chicken Into Distress
To protect itself from becoming weak and ill, an egg-laying hen will stop laying eggs if it is not getting enough nutrition and water.
At least 90% of an egg-laying hen’s diet should be commercial layer feed as this has the necessary minerals, particularly enough calcium, and nutrients to support egg production.
The water content of a chicken egg is approximately 65%. A dehydrated chicken will have a sudden drop in laying till it is rehydrated and recovered.
Parasites And Disease Put A Chicken Into Distress
Lice and mites in a chicken’s plumage can make them so uncomfortable that they stop laying eggs.
If the bird is ill or has a disease, it uses energy to fight off its illness which can affect egg production
Depending on the severity of the distress or if the chicken is physically harmed due to one of these factors, it may take longer for the chicken to recover and return to laying eggs.
Extreme Weather May Put A Chicken Into Distress
Extreme heat or cold weather may cause a chicken to stop producing eggs as all their energy will go to heating or cooling their bodies for survival.
Do Chickens Stop Laying Eggs When They Molt?
A chicken will lose all its old feathers and grow new ones about once a year after they are about 18 months. This is known as molting.
Molting can take between 8-16 weeks, depending on the breed, and during this time, chickens stop laying eggs as energy is needed to grow new feathers rather than produce eggs.
A higher protein complete layer feed or an extra protein supplement will sometimes speed up the molt.
Reduced Daylight Will Stop Your Chickens From Laying Eggs
As we said earlier, chickens are sensitive to their environment. A chicken’s body clock needs about 12 hours of daylight to produce an egg.
As daylight reduces during fall and winter, a hen may stop laying eggs. Artificial lighting on a timer may give you the few extra hours of artificial ‘daylight’ needed to keep your backyard chickens laying in the fall, but most chickens will stop laying altogether in winter.
When do chickens stop laying eggs in the fall?
When the days start getting shorter, chickens’ bodies begin to prepare for the winter months. This decrease in hours of light triggers a hormonal change that causes hens to stop laying eggs. Chickens typically lay fewer eggs in the fall as they go into this semi-molt, and they may stop laying eggs entirely for a brief period of time.
Some chicken breeds of chickens are more likely to lay eggs year-round such as the Rhode Island Reds or Plymouth Rock, but most will experience a slowdown in egg production in the fall.
So, if you’re wondering when your chickens will stop laying eggs, the answer is likely sometime in the autumn months but it varies from where you are geographically and the hours of sunlight they get. For example, if you live closer to the equator your hens are likely to lay eggs till around November when daylight hours drop below 12 hours. For those in the pacific northwest, it is going to be in October.
There is a reason your chickens may have stopped laying eggs. Get to know the most common ones to help keep your chickens happy and laying fresh eggs!
How to keep your hens laying for longer
Here are four tips for keeping your chickens laying for longer:
1. Keep them healthy
This one is a no-brainer. If your chickens are healthy, they will be more likely to lay eggs for a longer period of time.
2. Give them plenty of space
Chickens need room to move around and stretch their legs. If they feel cramped or crowded, they will be less likely to lay eggs.
3. Keep their nesting boxes clean
A clean nesting box will encourage your chicken to lay her eggs in the box rather than somewhere else.
4. Make sure to feed them a well-balanced diet and provide them with plenty of fresh water
It should be fairly obvious but to get the maximum egg yields from your hens they need the correct nutrients in order to churn them out at such as high rate. It takes approximately 26 hours for a new egg to be created inside of your hen, they need lots of protein and calcium so finding a feed rich in these nutrients is your best bet.
If you want to keep your hens laying efficiently for as long as possible you may want to check out one of our other articles on what to feed your chickens. There we will talk about all the different nutritional requirements, egg-boosting feeds, and much more. If any of that sounds interesting then here’s a link to that article; what can I feed my chickens
When do chickens stop laying eggs during the year?
It depends on the breed of chicken you have and the number of daylight hours but generally speaking chickens stop laying eggs in October-November in the Northern Hemisphere and May in the Southern Hemisphere.
Do chickens stop laying eggs after 2 years?
No, they don’t. Chickens are highly productive for their first 2-3 years and then generally drop production by 20% every year after and stop producing eggs around 5-6 years of age
Do chickens stop laying eggs in the winter?
Yes, most chickens stop laying eggs in the winter. Some different breeds such as the Rhode Island Red may produce a few eggs a month over winter
How many eggs does a chicken lay in a week?
Generally, 4-6 eggs depending on the breed. Check out my article on the best egg-laying chickens for an in-depth discussion
David Cameron is a passionate chicken enthusiast. Growing up, he always wanted to be a veterinarian and loved animals. After graduating from veterinary school, David spent over 40 years as an equine veterinarian. He and his wife retired a few years ago and moved to North Carolina. Here, David’s love of chickens grew even more – he now has 7 chickens and 6 quail. If you have any questions about chickens, feel free to reach out.