There can be several reasons why laying hens have stopped laying but with a little bit of detective work, you can normally work out why your birds aren’t laying.Generally speaking, all chickens will stop laying when they go through a moult as the protein that was being used to produce eggs is diverted to feather production. This is usually in late summer / autumn although pullets and cockerels (chickens under one year old) will not normally moult in their first year.
Here are some reasons why chickens stop laying:
Moult – Feathers are 80% protein so during feather growth, protein is diverted from egg production.
Insufficient light – Chickens ideally need 14-16 hours per day. Typically laying hens stop laying between late September and February in the UK.
Incorrect diet – Fat hens don’t lay eggs! Feeding too much mixed corn for example will cause excess weight and provide insufficient protein. There is more detailed information about Feeding Chickens here.
Age – Hens lay less as they get older.
Health – Poor general health can stop them laying. Red Mite in the chicken coop feeding from them at night is a common cause of anaemia in hens.
Disease – underlying disease can affect the quality of eggs as well as laying ability.
Stress – Moving hens, a water shortage or a scare from a predator are common causes of stress.
Broodiness – Hens will sit on a nest and will stop laying for 5 to 10 weeks.
Of the other factors that can stop a hen from laying, the most common are broodiness, stress, lice, red mite, and even severe weather conditions.