Our chickens stopped laying eggs for several months so I started reading up on how to naturally encourage egg laying in chickens. I really do NOT like to eat store bought chicken eggs so wanted to figure out what I could give my chickens to help them lay more eggs.
I learned some helpful tips on how to naturally encourage our chickens to lay more eggs. And guess what? It worked! After following some of these tips, our chickens’ egg production started picking up and we were back to getting enough eggs to feed our family so we didn’t have to eat the pale yolk store bought eggs anymore. Yay!
Why do chickens stop laying eggs?
Happy chickens tend to lay more eggs. Chickens lay more eggs when they have plenty of daylight and they can be out pecking and scratching for bugs. During the winter, it is normal for chickens to slow down egg production. Sometimes they just stop laying eggs and you’re not sure why.
There are several causes for chickens to slow down or stop laying eggs:
- Molting: Chicken molting usually happens in the fall. Molting is when a chicken loses it’s feathers and grows new ones. Chickens stop laying eggs when they are molting.
- Less light: In the winter, the days are shorter and there is less sunlight which causes chickens to slow down or stop egg laying. Chickens lay the most eggs when they have 16 hours of light and 8 hours of dark.
- Not enough calcium: Chickens need calcium to lay eggs since the shell is made of calcium.
- Low protein: Chickens tend to lay more when they can be out pecking and scratching for bugs which naturally provides more protein in their diet. In the winter, the ground is frozen and covered with snow so they can’t naturally forage for bugs.
- Stress: Chickens will stop laying eggs when stressed. Stress examples are illness, injury or predator threat.
- Age: You might want to check the age of your flock because older hens tend to lay less. The peak age for egg laying is typically less than two years old, and they tend to slow their production after that.
How to Increase Chicken Egg Production Naturally
Have you ever wondered what food or supplements to feed your chickens to naturally increase egg production? There are several things we do to naturally encourage our hens to start laying more eggs after taking time off in the winter.
In winter, we feed our hens extra protein in the form of scratch and sunflower seeds. One year we even fed them meal worms when someone gave us one of these big bags of dried meal worms. It was a little gross feeding the dried meal worms to the chickens but they loved them!
We discovered that it helps if you feed the chickens extra protein twice a day. Feed them extra protein in the morning and then again later in the day.
Feeding the chickens extra protein twice a day helps encourage egg laying. It takes a full 24 hours to make an egg and it takes a lot of protein to make an egg. When you give your chickens protein later in the day after they lay an egg, it helps the egg process along by giving them extra protein to start the egg laying cycle for the next day.
Chickens need calcium to lay eggs, it’s what the egg shell is made of. Putting more calcium in their diet helps them to lay more eggs and strengthen the egg shells.
Herbs for Healthier Chickens:
We love to grow and wild harvest medicinal herbs to use for our family when we make medicinal salve and herbal lip balm . The next step for us was learning how to use medicinal herbs for all the critters on our homestead.
The Herbal Academy offers a wide variety of herbal courses and even has an online course dedicated to learning how to use herbs for your animals!
Add Supplemental Light:
Some people use supplemental light in the chicken coop during winter to encourage egg laying. When using any source of heat or light in the coop you need to be very careful due to fire danger. Some manufacturers now make these supplemental light sources for chicken coops designed with safety in mind.
We used to use supplemental light in our chicken coop when we sold a lot of eggs but we don’t use the supplemental light anymore. We decided we wanted to give our hens a much needed break from egg laying in the winter since they work so hard to provide us with eggs the rest of the year.
You can decide what works best for you and your flock of backyard chickens.
Provide a clean, safe chicken coop:
Since hens slow down or stop egg production when stressed, it’s important to provide them a safe and clean chicken coop. Make sure their chicken coop is safe from the threat of predators (read our chicken coop buying guide to learn more about safe, predator proof coops)
You can encourage your flock of backyard chickens to lay more eggs by cleaning out their coop and making sure they have fresh bedding, fresh water and access to plenty of chicken feed.
Raise chickens bred for higher egg production:
We’ve experimented with raising different varieties of chickens over the years and have noticed specific breeds in our flocks of chickens lay more eggs throughout the year. Our hardiest egg layers are our Ameraucanas, Swedish Flower hens, and our “Olive Eggers” which we bred by crossing our Ameraucauna hens with our French Cuckoo Marans rooster.
Our Black Copper Marans hens lay beautiful dark chocolate brown eggs but lay the least amount of eggs throughout the year compared to all our other chicken breeds.
Some chicken breeds are bred for more egg production than others, such as Ameraucana, Australorps Brahma, Leghorn, Rhode Island Red, and hybrids like Red Star and Black Star are just a few.
If a younger hen doesn’t lay for more than a few months and she has access to calcium, extra protein, plenty of daylight and a clean, safe coop there might be something wrong with her. You should consider taking her to the vet.
Learning about Natural Chicken Care
Learning how to naturally encourage your chickens to lay more eggs is only one part of natural chicken care. There is so much more to learn!
The book The Homesteader’s Natural Chicken Keeping Handbook: Raising a Healthy Flock From Start to Finish is a good resource to start with.
Do you have any tips to share on how to naturally encourage egg laying in chickens?