In chickens, laying eggs is a more complex process than it seems, and above all more sensitive than we think. Indeed, far from being an automatic production, egg laying is influenced by various factors, notably the seasons. Chickens are photoperiodic animals, meaning that the duration of exposure to daylight directly affects their laying cycle. But a hen may stop laying eggs for other reasons. The purpose of this article is to guide you in making a diagnosis and then acting accordingly.
Egg laying decreases or stops naturally
You should be aware that even the best laying hens naturally take a break from laying. We leave aside the hens raised in batteries which are placed in artificial conditions of light and temperature so that the laying remains constant all year round. The poor chickens living in such conditions exhaust their bodies.
If you respect your chickens, you let nature take its course more. The light stimulates the hen’s hypothalamus and triggers the release of hormones necessary for egg production. Also, in countries with well-defined seasons like France, chickens lay less or even stop laying altogether when the days are shorter. Egg-laying resumes with the return of fine weather in spring.
With age, generally after 2-3 years, the frequency of laying also naturally decreases. This drop in production is a normal biological process and it is important not to stress older hens by trying to push them. Industrial farms generally renew their stock when the hens reach this age and send them to the slaughterhouse.
The influence of diseases and parasites
It goes without saying that chickens are living beings and not machines. Also, if your chickens are infested with external parasites like lice and mites, they may stop laying eggs altogether. This is explained by the fact that the hen devotes part of the energy of its metabolism to fighting against the presence of these parasites. It can also stress her out.
Any disease can similarly affect egg laying. You should watch for signs that may indicate health problems such as being withdrawn from the group, lethargy, weight loss or changes in feces. You should not neglect these types of signs, but if they seem insignificant to you. Chickens are animals that instinctively hide their discomfort and health problems. Also, when they struggle to appear in great shape, it is because they start to be overwhelmed and it becomes really difficult to behave as if everything is fine.
In the same vein, you can reverse the logic and consider that the cessation of laying, at a time of the year when the hen should be productive, can constitute a sign of illness.
Taking care of your chickens to encourage laying
Chickens need a peaceful and stable place, capable of providing a fulfilling environment. The presence of loud noises, predators or even too many conspecifics for a given surface area cause significant stress which will sooner or later negatively affect egg laying.
In addition, layers require a diet rich in protein, calcium, and other essential nutrients. Laying is very energy-intensive! A specific layer diet is recommended to support optimal laying.
Here are some good reflexes to adopt to encourage egg laying:
Implement a suitable vaccination plan and regular antiparasitic treatments; Provide your chickens with ample space to exercise, as well as clean, comfortable perches and nesting areas. Their stress will be reduced and the conditions will be met for regular laying; Distribute quality food, adapted to their energy needs, taking into account seasonal changes. Is it possible to stimulate hens to lay eggs?
In all the care given to chickens, feeding greatly influences the productivity of laying hens. A suitable diet is essential. Here are the main things you need to remember.
Generally speaking, care must be taken to provide fresh, quality food to the chickens. They must be completely free of mold. It is wrong to think that you can give anything and everything to chickens. Certain foods such as onions, garlic, raw potatoes and avocados are also toxic to these animals.
You must also provide them with constant access to a source of clean, fresh water. Chickens need good hydration to maintain their metabolism and allow egg formation.
You can find feed on the market specially formulated for laying hens. They are interesting because they provide a ready-made solution to meet the nutritional needs of hens during the laying period. They provide a balanced supply of proteins, calcium, vitamins and minerals. Protein is particularly important for egg formation and calcium for shell formation.
Regardless of how you feed your chickens, the food given should be varied to avoid nutritional imbalances: green vegetables, whole grains, and, from time to time, fruit. And we must avoid overfeeding which can lead to obesity and affect egg laying.
Nutritional supplements should not be neglected. Grit, made of small pebbles, helps chickens grind their food in their gizzard, which improves their digestion and absorption of nutrients. An excellent source of supplemental calcium, crushed oyster shells can also be given to strengthen the quality of egg shells.
Adopting these feeding practices helps create an environment conducive to regular egg laying. Finally, there is only one thing to remember: healthy hens who feel good in their henhouse lay eggs.