Contrary to what many novice breeders believe, hens are not laying factories. Different parameters can explain the stop of the laying. So if your hens aren’t laying eggs, read this article carefully! We discuss all the situations you may encounter.
When the hen is too young
Have you just welcomed one or more hens in your garden? You are probably eager to taste their first egg. But is your hen at least 20 weeks old?
It is indeed around this age that the first spawning is approximately located. However, this is only an average! Some breeds can lay their first eggs as early as 17 weeks, while others will wait until their 25th week of life.
Red hen, Leghorn, Gournay, Padoue, Ardennaise are among these hens which begin to lay around the age of 5-6 months.
While Wyandotte, Gâtinaise, Gauloise, Géline de Touraine, Coucou de Rennes, Sussex, Marans, Vorwerck begin to lay later, around the age of 7-8 months.
When the hen doesn’t feel at home yet
Even if she is sold as “ready to lay”, that is to say that she is theoretically of the age to lay, it is rare for a hen to lay eggs as soon as she arrives at her owner’s: she needs to take its brands. You have to give the hen time to digest everything that has happened to her before arriving at your place and taking her new bearings. A move messes up!
Depending on the character of the hen, it will need a few days or a few weeks to adapt to its new environment, and to tame you. You will help her become familiar with her new home by creating a ritual : When you go to see her, make sounds that are easy to reproduce, call her by name, and give her something to eat that she enjoys, such as small pieces of ham. Gradually, she will understand that you are a nice person.
When the hen is too old
Spawning exhausts the organism. It is considered that the more eggs a hen lays in a year, the shorter its life expectancy. Laying hens rarely live more than 5 years. In addition, the weakness of their organism favors the development of infections of the reproductive system, to the point that it is one of the main causes of mortality in laying hens.
A hen has several thousand follicles gathered to form the ovarian cluster. Only a few hundred follicles are selected for ovulation: this is the total number of eggs the hen will lay throughout her life. Once at the end, even if it is still alive, the hen stops laying.
When the hen’s body takes a break
In the hen, the eggs are available in groups called strings. Breeds of chickens are distinguished by the length of their rosary which itself determines the duration of the laying cycle, that is, the number of eggs laid without interruption. The cycle is longer in hens qualified as good layers.
It takes between 24 and 28 hours for an egg to form in the oviduct. The egg (the yolk) grows and matures. Ovulation is when it is released into the oviduct. The next ovulation usually occurs a few minutes after the previous egg was laid.
Between each group of eggs, that is to say between each string, the hen stops laying for 20 to 25 days.
When the environment is not favorable
A hen stops laying when the light is too low. For her cycle to work well, thanks to the fixation of vitamin D in particular, a hen needs 14 to 16 hours of continuous light per day at a level of 30 lux (to give you an idea of the brightness at which this corresponds, it is estimated that it takes 50 lux to read a book comfortably).
This is why many breeds of hens stop laying eggs in the winter. Some breeds are capable of continuing to lay despite everything: this is the case of the Faverolles. However, it does not do so until fully mature. After 3 years, she also takes a break when the days get shorter, a break that gets longer with the age of the hen.
The month of November is often the time of year when the hens lay the least. However, this is not the month with the shortest days. But it is the one where the brightness decrease is the fastest.
A hen is also sensitive to stress. This can be caused by the death or illness of another hen, a change in the barnyard, too much noise, etc. And a stressed hen is a hen that can stop laying eggs.
When the hen molts
A hen molts from the end of summer until autumn, a period which can vary depending on the temperature. While the importance of molting also varies among breeds, it is associated with stress and fatigue. Also, even the layers stop laying during the moult.
When the hen is brooding
When the hen begins to hatch, there is no longer ovulation and therefore no more egg. If she has chicks, she won’t start laying again until she stops looking after them, that is, when they are 3 to 4 months old.
When the diet is not suitable
A hen fed with too rich a diet leads to fattening her liver. It is a normal mechanism that helps the hen get through the winter. But if the liver becomes excessively fat, the hen may stop laying.
A suitable diet, and therefore which promotes egg laying, is a balanced diet. It includes between 12 and 16% of proteins but above all must avoid any deficiency in amino acids, minerals, vitamins… The evening meal is the most important because it is this which provides the hen with the calcium necessary for the formation of the shell.
Water is of course essential for the well-being of the animal but also for laying: an egg is made up of 75% water.
When the hen is sick or has been sick
Stopping laying can also mean that the hen is sick. Only a careful observation of your animal can confirm if this is the case. A parasite is the first hypothesis to verify: a complete and careful examination of the hen must be carried out. Some parasites feed on the hen’s blood and trigger anemia. These are mainly found on the belly and under the wings which are the first areas to inspect, taking care to lift the feathers. Their color can be white, light yellow or darker.
Finally, some diseases, even treated, can cause serious damage irreversible the lining of the oviduct, permanently preventing the hen from laying eggs.