Why Have My Chooks Stopped Laying?

Why Have My Chooks Stopped Laying?

Team Thompson & Redwood
Autumn is a time where many chook owners are left scratching their heads and wondering where all their eggs have gone! We often get asked the question, “why have my chooks stopped laying”
and there are actually some completely natural explanations as to why.  So in this blog post, we will go through some of the reasons that your chickens might have slowed down their laying, or stopped altogether. 

Why have my chooks stopped laying? 

a: They might be MOULTING

What is moulting?
Most chicken breeds go through a moult each year, although some are less impacted than others.  Moulting is a natural cycle where chickens shed their old, worn feathers, and grow new ones. It also give their reproductive organs a bit of a rest. 

Moulting usually occurs twice a year, in Autumn and in Spring. Moulting is triggered by a change in the number of daylight hours.
Birds have a gland in their brain called the Pineal Gland, which is light sensitive, and works a bit like a biological clock and calendar. It regulates their growth, reproduction and hormones. So when the daylight hours start to drop, the Pineal Gland tells your chooks that WINTER IS COMING. It’s good timing, as they’ve usually been doing a lot of laying through spring and summer, and their bodies need a break, to prepare them for the next spring. 
But why do they stop laying?

Feather production requires a large amount of protein, but so does egg production. Chickens don’t have the capacity to store protein, so get their daily protein requirements from their diet. Chooks will always prioritise their own health over laying, so will use this dietary protein for their feather growth, which takes it away from their egg production.  

What can you do to help them through moulting?
  • Provide plenty of protein for your chickens! Feathers are 80-85% protein so quality protein is essential for healthy feather production. Growing new feathers can use almost all their dietary protein. The minimum requirement for protein daily is 15%, so feeding a high protein feed (i.e. 17% protein) can help support the new feather growth during this time, and get them back to normal egg production sooner.
  • Allow chickens access to a complete feed ad lib, and if they normally forage and get scraps, try to make sure they eat their complete feed first, so they’re protein intake isn’t diluted, and they are getting all the vitamins and minerals they need.
  • Try to reduce stress as much as possible, and avoid adding new hens or changing anything too much. 
  • Your chickens, while they may look scruffy and decrease or stop laying should otherwise act normally during moulting season. If they seem unwell, seek veterinary advice.
Need a high protein feed? Try our Premium Laying Pellets (17% Protein), Laying Crumbles (17% Protein) or Laying Mash (16% Protein).  Click here to explore our poultry feed range. 
Daily nutritional requirements for laying hens

Why have my chooks stopped laying?
A: The DAYLIGHT HOURS are decreasing

Chickens actually have an optimum number of daylight hours that they need in order to reach maximum egg laying, and this magic number is around 15 hours of daylight. 

As we talked about with moulting, chickens have a light sensitive gland called the Pineal Gland, which regulates hormones. So when the days start to get shorter coming into winter, it triggers the pineal gland to decrease activity. This is a very natural process and comes from an old evolutionary feature. In the wild, this would prevent chickens from having chicks during the cold, harsh months, where the winter temperatures and lack of available food would make it difficult for chicks to survive. 

What can you do?
Like for moulting, providing a quality, complete feed is very important to help your chooks stay healthy through winter. Make sure that they are getting enough protein, vitamins and minerals to support their health and function. 
Providing a high protein feed (greater than 15% protein content) can also help them to maintain a better level of egg production during winter. 
Your chickens may need to increase their feed intake during the colder months to help them keep warm, so providing their feed ad lib can help them to adjust their intake as they need. Chickens are great self-regulators when eating, so will usually only eat what they need. 

Why have my chooks stopped laying?
A: Their DIET is poor

Chickens need a high quality diet to support egg production, with high protein and calcium, and balanced vitamins and minerals. They are not good at storing nutrients in the body, so if their diet is poor or they are not getting enough feed daily, chooks will not have the nutrition they need to produce eggs.

A single laying hen 16 weeks and older will need an average of 100g of feed per day. 

Of this 100g, the MINIMUM requirement of protein is 15%, and the MINIMUM requirement for Calcium is 3.5%. 

What can you do?

Make sure you are providing, a quality, complete feed, ad lib. Chickens are great at self-regulating their eating, so providing feed ad lib allows them to eat what they need. 
If you feed scraps or allow them to scavenge, try to make sure they are eating their complete feed first. Scraps are a great treat, but low in essential nutrients, so can fill them up without giving them much nutrition. 


If your chooks have stopped laying, always check for signs of illness or parasites!
Poor health has a big impact on egg production, and if you’re not careful, your chooks can get very sick, very quickly. 
If you are worried about your chooks health, consult a veterinarian.
Why isn't my chook laying? Infographic

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Available in 20kg bags in Western Australia, and 15kg bags in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria through PETstock stores. 



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Ally Doumany
1 Comment
  • Pingback:Feeding Chickens for Warmth in Winter - Thompson and Redwood
    Posted at 06:04h, 04 June Reply

    […] Winter is a time when chooks will often decrease or stop laying due to the decreased daylight hours. It’s their way of giving their bodies a break to prepare for spring. It’s also an evolutionary feature, because in the wild chicks wouldn’t have a high survival rate in winter.  Read more about why your chook might have stopped laying… […]

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