A number of things can affect how well your hens lay eggs:
- Amount of daylight — hens need 14-16 hours of daylight each day to lay their best. In the late fall and winter, the shorter number of daylight hours is one of the most common reasons that your hens may slow or stop their laying. We don’t typically do this because it disrupts the hens natural laying and rest cycle, but if you want to supplement their light to increase laying, you can set up a light to come on a few hours before the sun rises.
- Temperature — when it’s too hot or too cold, hens may stop laying. The optimal temperature range for them is 55° to 90° (F)
- Water — chickens should always have good access to clean water. If they run low on water, this can cause stress and reduce laying.
- Quality layer feed — Hens need a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals to lay well. A good quality layer feed with contain the proper balance. If you’ve been feeding your chickens a lot of table scraps or scratch grain, that can throw off the balance and reduce their laying, so use moderation.
- Stress — Stress will cause your hens to lay less.
- Molting — When your chickens are molting, they’ll lay less or stop laying. This usually happens about once a year.
- Age — Most hens will lay well for the first two years, then their egg production will gradually decline up through about year five. To have an ongoing supply of eggs, you’ll need to add new hens periodically.
- Snakes and Skunks — These can eat the eggs that you are getting. Check your coops more frequently and look for signs that you might be losing eggs to predators.
- Diseases or Parasites — A hen that isn’t healthy or that’s suffering from parasites may lay less.