Raising Chickens 101: When Chickens Stop Laying Eggs

January 29, 2019
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The final chapter in our Raising Chickens series is what to do when your chicken stops laying eggs or suffers from illness and pain. Yes, this is the cycle of life and an unfortunate responsibility that comes with the job of raising chickens.

If you are wondering how to get started with chickens, click here for the full 6-part Raising Chickens 101 series.

How Long Do Chickens Lay Eggs?

Egg laying is largely dependent on the length of the day, and most hens will stop laying when they receive fewer than 12 hours of daylight. When exactly this will happen depends on the chicken, though. Most of ours did go “off lay” as the days grew shorter and the seasons changed. They laid fewer and fewer eggs until, one day, they simply stopped. One or two continued to lay sporadically throughout the cold, dark days of winter, although most of those eggs froze and cracked before we got out to collect them. (In that case, we gave them to the dog, usually raw and right on the spot. He had a lovely, shiny coat, but produced sulfurous gas at inopportune moments.)

Chickens lay eggs most reliably in their first two to three years. After that, egg production will taper off.

How Long Do Chickens Live?

Chicken lifespans vary widely, with most hens generally living between 3 and 7 years. However, with ideal care, they may live even longer.

Backyard chickens

What to Do When Your Chicken Stops Laying Eggs

When They Stop Laying for the Winter:

You can extend the laying period for your hens by putting a light hooked to a timer in the henhouse. This will give the hens a couple of extra hours of artificial daylight, but the natural pattern for most hens is to stop laying in the winter.

As the hens go off lay, you have two approaches. One is to cook your chicken. Year-old hens usually aren’t tender enough to roast so we are talking about a lot of chicken stew. The more humane approach is to give them the winter off and wait. They’ll begin laying again in the spring.

(I’ve heard people say that they couldn’t keep chickens because “you have to kill them when they stop laying eggs.” Not true. We never killed a hen simply because she stopped laying.)

When You Have Old Hens:

We found that our old hens usually produce fewer eggs, but larger ones. In a production flock, this is a problem because consistency of supply and size is important. In the home flock, who cares? (Another advantage to old hens: They’re used to you and are less flighty and panicky.)

How to Humanely Dispose of a Chicken

Even if you decide to keep your laying hens until they die of old age, you will eventually have to dispose of a chicken. Maybe you’ll have a sick bird or a hen injured by a predator—accidents do happen.

If a chicken’s life does need to end, we want to do it as painlessly as possible

The simplest way to kill a chicken—so I’m told, as I’ve never done this and I’ve never seen it done—is to wring its neck. You have to be quick and forceful to avoid causing pain. We use the traditional chop: cutting the chicken’s throat. As far as I understand, these are the two main ways to kill a chicken. Shooting is also a possibility, but it’s noisy, certainly not painless, and probably also illegal in most places.

An axe and a block (a stump or upended round of firewood will do, as long as it’s stable) are probably the simplest method for people new to this age-old practice. There are a couple of ways to hypnotize or calm the chicken. One is to place the chicken breast-down on a flat surface while holding its legs. Wave a piece of chalk in front of the chicken’s beak until you have the bird’s attention, then draw a line straight out from the beak for 12 to 18 inches. The bird will focus on the line and not move or flap.

As most chopping blocks aren’t that long, you might want to use an alternate method. Lay the bird on its side, with one wing under it. Tap your finger in front once at the point of the beak (but not touching), then about four inches in front of the beak. Repeat alternating taps until the bird calms down and holds still.

If you’re worried about your aim, you can pound two long nails into the stump, far enough apart to span the chicken’s neck but close enough together to keep its head from slipping through. Lay the chicken on the block with its neck between the nails and apply enough tension to the legs to stretch the neck and keep the bird in place. Then use the axe. If you intend to eat the chicken, hold it up by the legs to let the blood drain. There will be flapping, but rest assured that the bird is dead and doesn’t feel any pain.

Have a pot of scalding (140° to 160°F) water ready. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can tell that the water is hot enough if you can see your face reflected in it. Dip the bird for 20 to 30 seconds. Afterwards, you can wipe the feathers off with your hand. Chop off the feet, then cut around the cloaca (anus—chickens use the same opening for excretion and egg-laying), being careful not to nick the intestines, and scoop the innards out with your hand. Rinse with cold water. If you can get all of this done in 20 minutes while the oven preheats, you can cook the bird immediately; otherwise, let it rest for 24 hours, until rigor mortis relaxes.

People who raise their own food know where it comes from, what’s gone into it, and how it’s been treated. Whether your chickens are ultimately intended for the table or killed simply to end pain or illness and then buried in the back forty, remember that this is your responsibility as a small farm owner. Doing it, and doing it well, means that you’re doing your best by your birds.

More of Raising Chickens 101

See more of our beginner’s guide to raising chickens:

About This Blog

Interested in raising chickens? Here’s our Raising Chickens 101 series—a beginner’s guide in 6 chapters. We’ll talk about how to get started raising chickens, choosing a chicken breed, building a coop, raising chicks, chicken care, collecting and storing eggs, and more. The author, Elizabeth Creith, has fifteen years of experience keeping chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys on her farm in Northern Ontario. She currently dreams of a new flock of fancy chickens!

Reader Comments

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Killing old chickens

Why would you not have a vet put your chicken to sleep if she is sick or in pain? Wouldn't that be more humane?

Advise for chickens pecking each other

I have a flock of three year old red sexlink hens who began pecking each other during their first molt. More than half have bald rumps or backs. They are free range on a half acre grassy orchard and seasonal garden. I have been told if I get a rooster the hens will stop this behavior.anyone have any advise?i have tried different feeds, wound spray, supplements all to no avail.


Forgot to mention there are 13 hens and they do have a henhouse with multiple nest boxes but the door is open for them to go in and out at will.also have two watererers and feed pans

Chickens pecking other chickens

I have one hen that the other hens are pecking at her so badly that it causes her to bleed. Why are they doing this and how do I stop it.? I don't know what to do hope that you can help

Eating a chicken

We recently bought butchard chickens from my nephew. I read that after it is processed and frozen, it's better to wait 3 months before you eat the chicken. That it will taste better. Any truth to that? Thanks in advance!

freshly butchered chickens

Hi, Beth. What we can offer for advice about freshly butchered is that you should let them rest for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator before freezing. We have not heard about keeping them for any specific amount of time in the freezer to make them taste better.

It's downright disgusting

It's downright disgusting that you see a rooster's existence a suitable reason to kill him. He shouldn't have to die simply because you wanted hens. Ugh. Nor should a rooster die because of his personality, or a chicken die because they eat eggs! What is wrong with you people?


Thanks for sharing your perspective. We’ve updated the article to clarify when euthanasia should be considered.


The real question is whats wrong with you? You hold emotional extreme unrealistic views of life as defined by the overwhelming majority of humankind. Animals are here for our use and benefit, including eating! The majority of people here believe in humane treatment of animals while they are used to benefit humankind!

Humane Euthanasia

My husband and I had a girl with constant crop issues and made every attempt to help her... unsuccessfully...and neither of us could do the deed 7ntil we stumbled upon a post using dry ice. We got some and put it in a bag and put that in a bucket and activated it with water. The bag filled with carbon monoxide from the chemical reaction and it took less than 45 sec after placing her in the bag...keep in mind she was I'll and little life left in her...
Just an option for urban chicken mom's to avoid Carnage...

You consider gassing somebody

You consider gassing somebody humane?

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide causes the chickens to pass out painlessly. So yes, it's more humane than chopping a head off!

carbon dioxide

You are confused, dry ice is solid carbon dioxide, there is no chemical reaction with water, that just helps melt the ice. Your chicken suffocated, which is a horrible way to die. You could achieve the same result by putting a dry cleaning bag over its head with a rubber band around its neck. Snowflakes make me sad

barn stall ok?

I have empty 12X12 stalls in my barn. Could I use a stall as a coop? There’s a window that I figured could be used for outdoor access via a gangplank up and down to an exterior chicken wire pen. I would also make hen boxes and a perch.

horse stall for chicken coop

Definitely! A horse stall would make a great chicken coop. Just make sure it’s completely cleaned with a vinegar/water solution. If your floor is direct, pests can get through so you’ll need to cover it in hardware cloth before you put down shavings. You also need to make sure you close up any ceilings or vents from predators as well as ensure the latch is predator-free. Here’s a good article by Lisa Steele, an expert in this field: /www.hobbyfarms.com/convert-a-horse-stall-into-a-chicken-coop-3/

Gasing chickens

In the interest of accuracy, dry ice is carbon dioxide , a nontoxic gas that we exhale when mammals breath. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas created from combustion of fuel. Using dry ice simply creates an atmosphere without oxygen. To the wacko commenting on here, yes it is humane, very humane, they simply go to sleep.

What to do with unwanted chickens

I really need some help. My husband brought home 6 chicks to add to the 7 older ones we already have about a year ago. The older ones, about 4 yrs old, have just about stopped laying. We live in a nice subdivision and raising chicks should not be more than 4. Having our own fresh eggs has been great, but my problem is I don’t want to care for them anymore and I can’t kill them nor can I eat them. My husband travels so guess who cares for them! I raised these girls! Is there anything I can do to get rid of them humainly? Are there people that take chickens that don’t lay? I just can’t take having them anymore. Thanks for any help you can give.


The Editors's picture

Your best bet would be to inquire at a local Humane Society. Unfortunately, there is just not much demand for chickens that don’t lay, and especially if you don’t want them to be eaten.

Chickens and our Aussies.

We have had chickens for years but we would always lose them to coyotes, bobcats, etc. until we got Aussies to herd our cattle. These dogs are amazing. I have not lost a chicken since I got a couple Aussies. I fell in love with the breed and starting breeding them. We get eggs daily as we use a heater in the chicken house in the winter so while the chickens don't all lay, they take turns, enough to keep up with our daily needs. We have not been successful at having any baby chicks. Is there more we can do to help our girls. We have one Rooster that crows all during the day and is down right mean and will attack my husband when he goes into feed. We think it may be he was the only survivor from the bobcat. I don't see any spots or signs that the eggs are fertilized. Do you think it is the rooster? I want to see baby chicks running around. We also let them free range some days as our dogs keep them close to the house for us.


The Editors's picture

How old is your rooster? Some roosters don’t really mate until they’re at least a year old..While you need a rooster to fertilize the eggs to hatch them into baby chicks, chickens do not generally mate in the wintertime. In the natural world, hatchlings would perish in cold conditions. Come spring, the rooster should be mating with the hens. It’s very rare for a rooster to be infertile. If he’s not fertilizing the eggs by early spring, I think I would look for another rooster. 

Website and Blog

I am so glad I came upon your website! Thank you so much for taking the time to keep this going.
I originally had questions about refeshing my memory for caring for fresh laid eggs, has been over 12 yes since I last had chickens.
So glad to learn other things here.
Saw the comment about being upset about painlessly killing chickens. Anyone who keeps chickens will probably have to do this for one reason or another, just a fact if life, duh, as all living things die eventually. Why not kill an animal as humane as possible?
Thank you for your information on all aspects of chicken life and care. Wil save this site, and refer back to it to get accurate information.

Chicken's life span

In the article above it was stated that a chickens life span was 3 to 7 years. My family and I have always raised chickens and most of the time they lived 10 or more years. I believe I read their average life span is 10 to 12 years. I also read that Silkies live longer, living sometimes to 15.

Chickens live a long time if

Chickens live a long time if cared for lovingly, and not exploited. The problem is that most people do exploit them for eggs, making them lay as many as possible, which is unnatural and decreases their lifespan.

mother rejects and trys to kill baby chick

i have a baby chick that was hatched a day later than the others and the mother trys to pick it to death. i want to help it.what should i do...

What if I don't want eggs?

I am buying a place where there is a right to farm rule and the owner has offered to leave her hens. I like and enjoy animals and when I saw that when she lets them out in the evening they clear off all the insects like nobody's business I thought hum... But I am a vegan or trying to be and don't want the eggs. Can one have hens without them ever laying eggs? Silly question I know, but I know nothing of chicken husbandry. Thank you.

chickens for pest control

Why, we’ve never had this question before!  Yes, chickens are awesome at insect/pest control. However, most young chickens lay eggs, whether there’s a male rooster (which means a fertilized egg) or not.  That said, you could always adopt some older rescue hens who are not be laying anymore.  Or, select chickens which are bred for meat production and lay few eggs. Or, when your chickens lay eggs, give the unfertilized eggs (a natural by-product) to a friend who is not vegan. Or, the eggs can be used in the compost to enrich your soil. If you garden, egg shells around young vegetable seedlings are great for deterring slugs. Finally, homesteading folk have been feeding eggshells back to their chickens for added calcium. Just don’t leave the eggs lying around, or it will attract vermin and create an unhealthy environment for your girls. I hope this answer helps! 


I clicked on this link to find out about laying ages for chickens not how to kill them! I actually cant believe majority of your article is about wringing their necks and chopping off their heads with axes, what on earth would prompt someone to write about the brutal death, by your.own hand, of a creature thats done nothing to you. Im sickened by this article.

Really?! Really.

Taking responsibility for any animal is all encompassing. Death is a part of life - considering the life span of a healthy chicken is 4-7 years you will likely out live your chicken. As a chicken owner - you'll need to be prepared it's death. If it's diseased; you'll be responsible for euthanizing the bird or allowing it to suffer.


Having a sick chicken put to sleep is entirely different than chopping off the head of a health animal simply because its too inconvenient to keep it.

I had to have my dog put to sleep recently. It broke my heart. I do not believe the life of a chicken has less value than the life of a dog.

Wringing a chicken's neck is not that easy

When I was a teenager in the late sixties my grandmother tried to teach me how to wring a chicken's neck. She was quick and efficient. When she let that chicken go it flopped on the ground a bit then died. I'd let the chicken go and it would jump up and run off. We finally resorted to the axe and chopping block. Five decades later I decided to try one more time to wring a neck. That was when I learned my mistake. It's all in the wrist. I had been 'windmilling' my birds. Using my elbow to sling them around. (sounds bad but that was what I was doing.) I found out that if I held my arm still and just used my wrist action I could kill that bird. I'm 67 now and I know my grandmother would be so proud of me. It took me long enough, but I made certain to pass this information on to my daughter who raises birds, too.

Another way of killing a chicken

I live in the middle of Amish country here in Ky. They will lay the chicken or rooster on the ground with one hand and with the other hand they will lay a tobacco stick across the birds neck. Then they will place a foot on each side of the stick and pull the chickens legs and their head will come right off.

Chickens stop laying

Recently I had 2 hens die in the hen house on the same day. Will this cause my hens 2 stop laying.

One hen dying can simply

The Editors's picture

One hen dying can simply happen by chance but two hens dying makes us wonder if you have an illness?  That would be the main concern.

duck eggs

Are duck eggs good to eat because I have one duck that is laying?

Suddenly stopped laying

I have 5 young hens, laying an egg each daily for the past 5 months. I was away for a week and my kids were afraid to collect the eggs. One hen became broody and sat on at least 10 eggs for nearly a week. When I came home, I collected 28 eggs, but not one more has been laid since I got home 6 days ago. How can I get my hens to start laying again?

Chicken eggs

My 2 year old chicken stopped laying eggs. What can I do?

Chickens egg laying

We have a bkack copper maran chicken, acochin babtam chicken and 2 Cochin/frizzemix chickens. We get mauve

Laying chickens?

I submitted a question but sent it before I finished it. I said d the type of chickens we have and the question is why aren't they laying. For some reason only one of them lays 1 egg a day. The others do not lay any. What can we do to get them all to start laying again?

Egg Production

Hi Dot,

Thanks for writing! There are a variety of reasons why chickens stop laying eggs: Annual molting, stress, lack of water (for even a few hours), or aging hens. Are your chickens molting currently? If so, they are either growing new feathers, which coincides with a lowered egg production, or experienced a stressful situation. That can be caused by a predator being nearby, not enough food, not enough water, or intense heat. If they are not molting, the problem could still be lack of water, lack of food, or too much heat. Lastly, when hens get older it’s natural for them to slow or stop laying eggs. 


I have 40 chicken and all is hen make a egg's farm in 2019 I love have 100 Hen lay even day can you help Me Iam name it HEN TOWN, I am in wilmington NC

Rooster limping

Our Rooster has been limping now for 3 days, he doesn't make a sound, he mostly lays there all day, we checked the hock to see if it was out of joint, seems fine, the right hock feels warmer than the left hock. Any suggestions that would help us ?
He is eating laying down and occasionally gets a drink. We have been giving him low dosage of ASA. Thank you, hope to hear from you soon.

rooster limping

Did you check the bottom of his foot for any redness or swelling or lesions? If so, he may have Bumblefoot and you need to call a vet. Or, if the scales on his leg are raised, he might have scaly leg mites; spread castor oil or vasoline on the leg and see if the scales go away.

Thank you.

Thank you for all the wonderful information and ideas! I am new to this but grew up with chickens...just never tried to raise my own.

Egg laying

Hi i keep laying eggs and they are of different age,of late when i'm collecting the eggs i normally find a smaller egg like for a bird. my worry is can a six to eight week hen lay eggs?

tiny egg

Pullets can start laying eggs around 16 to 32 weeks, depending on breed and other factors. Sometimes, when a pullet is just beginning to lay, she will produce tiny eggs about the size of a robin’s (sometimes called fairy eggs), that are not fully developed, and often do not have a yolk. This can happen for a month or so, until her system gets adjusted to its new role. This is normal. This can also happen occasionally in older hens. If, however, the hen continues to do this regularly after she is fully mature, she should be checked by a vet.

Harvesting chickens

I hang my chickens upside down (tie their feet together) on a fence post and use my very sharp pruning loppers to cut off their heads. They aren't upside down very long and they are calm. Also, they don't flap around afterward and they're already in the draining position. It seems to be the least stressful method of harvesting that I've tried.

Killing old chickens


13 month old hens not laying.

I bought 6 13 month old hens about a month ago. I have been reading up on the subject, and it seems to vary on what people say. Also know, I'm not new to owning a flock, but it has been awhile. Anyway, its been a month now, and not one egg. They seemed to be molting when I got them too, in February?! I have never had this happen in any flock Ive cared for in the past. Curious to any opinions and advise. Oh I should probably add, healthy birds, nice poop :) no mites that I can tell. They do seem to fixate on the food and water, I have no idea of their previous conditions.

how to get healthy chick from breeder

i have bantam cochine and golden buff heavy breed
i want to get healthy chicks from breeder healthy egg and increase the laying ratio please tell me what should be done???

adding laying hens to current stock

We have 10 year old laying hens, which are doing very well with 2 roosters. Is it possible to add new laying birds to current stock without the old picking on the new birds?
We would like to add 8-10 more to increase egg production for upcoming years. Our hen house is large enough to add more stock without any difficulty.
We would only add hens no increase in rooster stock.

raising chickens

You can also add cayenne too the chicken food it will help em start laying again

Amount of food need for egg productin

I have 8 laying hens (various ages) . About how much food/water does it take for them to produce an egg? I want to make sure I'm not underfeeding them, while not also wasting food. Thanks!

chicken feed

The Editors's picture

What you feed your chickens will depend on several factors, such as age, breed, and type of feeder. A 6-pound hen will eat roughly 3 pounds of feed each week. They may eat more in winter than summer. Water consumption may vary with certain factors, such as temperature. A rule of thumb is that chickens will drink 1-½ to 2 times as much water as feed. In hot weather, an adult may drink more than in cold weather. You might want to check with your county’s Cooperative Extension for more information (see: http://www.almanac.com/content/cooperative-extension-services ).

egg problem

I have 5 hens not even 1 year old yet...all 5 layed during the winter and now all of a sudden the golden laced wyandotte stopped laying.....what do I do?

Hens can stop laying for

The Editors's picture

Hens can stop laying for several reasons, including health, stress (is another hen picking on her? has there been any change in diet or routine?), molting (usually late summer/autumn), broodiness, wrong diet, age, temperature, or day length. A guess might be that it is day length. Many breeds stop or slow laying during the winter months because of the decrease in daylight. Hens need about 14 to 16 hours of light per day for egg production. If you think your wyandotte might be reacting to day length, then you might try installing an artificial light in the coop to extend daylight to meet requirements, if you haven’t already. Put a timer on it so that the natural light and artificial light will total about 14 to 16 hours. (If you do not need the eggs, it is fine to let the hen rest without adding the artificial light; it is part of her natural cycle.) Also make sure that the coop is warm – cold can slow egg production. Check for predators;  if they appear around the coop, it can cause stress, which in turn may slow egg production. Also check for pests and diseases. Good luck!


How do I stop my roosters from breeding my hens to the point of making the girls feathers come out to bare backs and putting holes in their legs?

Kill roosters

Kill roosters

Rooster picking on a hen

I had a rooster that almost killed a hen. Feathers fell out, wings were pulled down to the bone and red skin. We put a topical on her as a rooster repellent. Sorry that I forgot the name of it. But, it helped and another think we did was to get a few more adult laying hens. It refocused the rooster. Most roosters need about 10-12 hens to stay occupied and to stop the picking on just one hen. At least, that is what I have been told by folks more experienced than me. Short of that, it may be time to have some rooster stew.

Cooking a farm chicken

Thank your for your detailed description of caring for chickens. You mentioned that year old chickens don't roast well; I think you mentioned stewing them. Once I bought a couple of chickens that I watched being killed, and hung upside down for draining the blood. The chickens were dipped in hot water, feathers pulled out, the innards taken out, and put into bags for me to purchase.
I took two chickens home but I could not roast them in the oven, and I probably tried stewing them, but they were rubbery!!!

You state that year-old hens aren't tender enough to roast. Now I know those two chickens I bought must have been too old to roast. Now, years later I know.
Sincerely, Ozelia Ruth


i lost my chicken today she was about 15 years old she was amazing the fact she never stop laying until her last 2 months of her life what made her special was she was born with a hop so she was called Hopi ...i still have a few but she was my favorite you no i love my pets but losing them is a hard thing it hurts but i no she had a happy life

Dear Harold,

The Editors's picture

Dear Harold,

You are lucky to have had Hopi for 15 years! And Hopi was lucky to have you. She had a long beautiful life.


I have a white Leghorn hen

I have a white Leghorn hen who has seen 8 winters still lays when not molting!

Hi Elizabeth, I have 2 isa

Hi Elizabeth,

I have 2 isa brown chickens. one of them stop laying egg for almost 7 months now. The chicken was about 3 months old when I purchased last year in July 2014. Can you tell me whether she is too old to lay any more eggs or there may still be a chance to lay eggs, after such a long period of time ?



Fall is a normal time of year

The Editors's picture

Fall is a normal time of year for chickens to stop laying eggs as the sunlight decreases and they molt, but 7 months is a long time.  She's not that old. Another common reason is dietary, though it sounds as if your other chicken is laying.
See this page to learn more. http://www.thepoultrysite.com/...

I have 8 Rhode Island Red

I have 8 Rhode Island Red hens that are a little over 2 years old and I was getting 7 to 8 eggs a day, now I get 1.
Any ideas?
Thank you

Fall is molting time. If your

The Editors's picture

Fall is molting time. If your chickens have been laying nicely for a year or longer then they'll shed some feathers and stop laying for a while. The molting is triggered by decreasing daylight. They'll return to laying. Adding a lighting program could also help in the future.

i have a hen that has been

i have a hen that has been injured on her backside. she is walking around and seems to be eating. i have moved her to a separate location. she actually went back to her coop and got in the box on her own. in cleaning her i noticed she has a white yellow discharge in her feathers. what is this ? i dont know if she has been laying
because they all want to share the same box. what can i do to help
her? it to me looks like yoke. i am so concerned.

we bought two red layer

we bought two red layer chickens. When we first got them right away the next day we were getting on average of 2 eggs a day. Then after a week they stopped. We were just giving them some sweet feed we had, so then we bought laying mash, which was pellets. Meant to get the chopped. Anyway we don't know what to do.

I have some chickens,

I have some chickens, recently I had one sitting on a nest
She wouldn't eat or drink anything unless I hand fed and watered he. She wouldn't get off the nest, yesterday I found her dead in the lot and 1 baby hatched. Can you maybe tell me what happened, her comb kept getting dull and faded

It's possible that she had

It's possible that she had mites. I have a mite issue -- they're awful small in the spider/tick family, and exceptionally hard to spot. I'm lucky my birds have red mites, but many are clear colored and you just can't see them. My birds are OK until they're broody. Sitting around in the nest box all day being bloodletted gets them anemic. I noticed that just as babies were hatching my bird was looking exhausted. I thought the peeps kept her up all night, I gave her food, water, etc. then I noticed the itsy bitsy dots running around on my arm. I had no idea why I was getting bug bites. I knew my birds were itchy after the long hard winter -- but keeping them cooped up with the heavy snows led to dirty oily birds and tons of bird mites. They need to bathe. I messed up. I caught her before she was too far gone, started cleaning up around her and her babies, now her babies are 8 weeks and she's OK, her color is back in her comb. I used diatomaceous earth, boric acid, and offered them sand, DE and wood ash in addition to their normal dirt for bathing in. Sunlight, dust bathing, etc. and it's calmed down. But the 2nd hen to set a nest -- I kept an eye on her. Yep. Still mite issues. I might never get rid of the buggers. I kept her hydrated and fed, cleaning up around her, etc. Got her and her babies out of the nest as soon as the hatched. It's about 2 weeks later seems OK. 3rd is a broody I'm not letting hatch eggs -- she's been on the nest a bit. Sure enough - mites. But she's still getting out and sunning/bathing -- she hasn't gone to "lock down" because there's no eggs. Good luck! Look for them, check information online -- there's some bug bomb type of stuff but I didn't want to subject birds and babies to it.


Thanks for this! I think that's my birds' problem. They're leghorns, and our winters aren't so bad in southern New Mexico, so my birds only slow a bit in winter, have never stopped; so when all my birds started losing feathers and stopping laying at once, I knew something was wrong. Thanks!

I have one rooster and

I have one rooster and different kinds of hens. I found a hatched chick today and none of the hens seem to want to be the mother. Sooo, I'm taking care of it inside. When it gets large enough to go out, I'm sorry kinda embarrassed, does the mating with it's father affect anything or should I coup the new chicks separately? If they mate do I need a different rooster?

Once the chick gets old

Once the chick gets old enough to fend for itself, it should be fine with a rooster. Every rooster is different. Some are too aggressive and others are nurturing.
In terms of mating: Many people interbreed but professional breeders often won't breed parent/chick or siblings. Here's a popular program called line breeding:

I have a flock of buff

I have a flock of buff chickens of different age. I purchase about 6 new ones every couple years to keep up with egg production.my question is how do I know which chickens have stopped laying eggs. as it is not cost affective to feed chickens that are not laying eggs and I am also running out of room.

Get leg bands and mark your

Get leg bands and mark your birds by year acquired. Keep track of which color is which year. When they're 4+ yrs old, you can make stew.

Is it true or false that

Is it true or false that keeping a rooster with my laying hens will keep them laying longer, and more regular than if I did not keep a rooster. The rooster keeps them safe from hawks and other predators and keeps a look out at all times. It seems beneficial to keep a rooster for these reasons. My neighbor disagrees and he keeps his hens without a rooster and is upset when my rooster comes over to mate with his hens. Please help me with these questions. Thank you!

To us, the question "to have

To us, the question "to have a rooster or not" is about whether you want fertilization and to hatch eggs -- or if you simply want eggs for the table. If it's the latter, a rooster is not needed, unless you just want one! A rooster will warn of predators but many folks who raise hens have a safe enclosure so that predators are already deterred.

There is at least one other

There is at least one other for getting a rooster. When I bought my current flock of laying hens (8 of them), it wasn't long before they were little more than clucking targets. A family of hawks dive-bombed the, an opossum killed one, local dogs and cats stopped by for a free chicken dinner. It wasn't pretty.

And then, I got Rudy-the-Rooster; 1/2 game cock 1/2 bantam. The little dude made the hens his within 24 hours. He acts like a LA gang-member. He took on the biggest hawk the first day. No more hawks. Ever. He took on two big dogs and a medium size cat within two weeks. They packed up and left too. There were two additional benefits: this year we (they) hatched our first chicks and I did nothing. Mama and Rudy handled it all. Chicks are doing fine. The second benefit was that the various dogs and woodland creatures that were always tipping over my trash cans finally had to go out, get a real job and make an honest living. Go Rudy!

I grew up with the chopping

I grew up with the chopping block and axe but was somewhat uncomfortable with it myself. We used "gentle" killing of our ducks so I decided to try the method with chickens - works great.

Caution: requires kneeling on the ground.

Kneeling, place the body of the calmed chicken between your legs. Bring the neck forward long and straight. Dig the fingers of one hand into the neck just below the head and hold the head and neck firmly. Taking a sharp knife - I used a hunting knife - draw it firmly across the neck from below. One good cut will do it; if you have to do a second it is usually merely to cut the vertebral column.

Result: dead chicken.

We hang them in the trees until they have bled out but that wouldn't be necessary as most of the bleeding occurs very quickly.

i am going to get chickens

i am going to get chickens please give me some advice thanks

Lay a steel bar across their

Lay a steel bar across their neck right behind their head, step on both sides of the bar and pull their legs. The chickens head will come right off. We butchard hundreds of chickens this way growing up. Keep a turkey fryer with boiling water handy to dip them in before pulling the feathers. Keep your freezers full.

hiii,,, i dont know, what i

i dont know, what i do,, i have four hens, three of them are golden and one is farm hen,, golden hens are of exact same age, but only two golden hen lay egg, while the third golden go to the box for laying egg, but after a while she come without giving any egg and makes a lot of sad noice,, looking she is weeping, 6th months gone,, but she dont gave any egg,, plzz tell something,,,,
At the same time,, i bought a farm hen from farm house.. the owne told me, that she gave egg daily,, but 1 month passed,,, i watch no any white egg,,, :( plzz tell something for them.

She may not be ready to lay

She may not be ready to lay eggs yet, they start at their own pace. Every hen is different, just as every person is different.

There are many factors that come into play.
She may not feel comfortable enough with you or the area she has to lay them. Many hens will not lay if they feel scared. The amount of day light may not be long enough. She may not be getting enough of something, malnourished. Or it could just be that she has one and cannot push it out. If that is the case. She may just absorb the egg back into her body and recycle it. She could be sterile, meaning that she cannot make eggs, it happens to a lot of animals. Of course there is the possibility that she is laying somewhere else, hiding them. Herself or other hens could be eating them.

I say just wait and see what happens.
Calm down.
It's just like human puberty, everyone starts at their own pace. Some won't start laying until they are a year old. Others start at 5 months. Give it time.

Until then, hold her. Get her used to you. Spend some time with her. Feed her from your hand every once in a while, to make sure she has enough. You should pick them up and hold them, almost daily, until they are about 10 weeks old. Then weekly after that, so they stay used to you.

A cuddled chicken is a happy chicken.

How long does it take after a

How long does it take after a hen hatches out her chicks before she starts laying again?

Please I need help.I have 60

Please I need help.I have 60 broiler parent stock which they are 8month old.they started laying at 24weeks old and for 2month d production is fine.and for d past 3 weeks d production drop drastically which I think is due to changing of feed.and am seeing only 6 egg now from 60 chicken for d past 3week and they they are not sick pls help me with any information to get them back please help me

Check if they are getting

The Editors's picture

Check if they are getting enough water--too little can cause the birds to stop laying. Is the water frozen? Also, make sure that the birds are getting a balanced diet, about 16 to 18-percent protein. Make sure the feed also has enough calcium.
Are they molting? If so, that may be a sign that their bodies are just resting and recharging for another round of egg laying. Good layers will sometimes lay for about 50 or 60 weeks and then go through a rest period.
As daylight hours decrease, egg laying is sometimes affected; hens need about 14 hours of daylight to lay eggs. If daylight is below that (usually October through February), providing a little extra artificial light for those lost hours, might help. One Cooperative Extension site recommends adding one 40-watt light per 100 feet of coop; turn the lights on in the morning for those added hours, so that the birds can roost at sunset.
Stress also can cause a hen to stop laying--are there any predators or other things about that might scare them?  New routines? Changes in environment (has their area become damp or chill, or too hot)?
Age and diseases may also affect laying.

with my chickens if I give

with my chickens if I give them,other food like scratch, they do not lay as often,hens need protein to produce all the time during laying, I would suggest taking them off laying mash when the weather get really cold ,that gives them a rest,when weather changes put them back on laying pellets, a light in the hen house will help keep plenty of water for them, I check them twice a day, hope this may help. CAL


need information about chickens

There are a lot of questions

There are a lot of questions about and different answers for how long hens lay.

I have 8 hens: 1 3-y.o. Langshan, 1 2-y.o. Cuckoo Marans, 2 1-y.o. Ameraucanas, 2 1-y.o. Barnevelders, and 2 11-m.o. Black Copper Marans.

The Langshan hasn't consistently laid eggs since her first winter and she hasn't laid any eggs since this last spring.

The Cuckoo Marans has also not laid any eggs this year at all.

I fully expected the others to stop laying when going through molt, but not the new young, Black Copper Marans. I expected them to start laying in July, which they did, and keep laying through the winter. No dice.

What happened to the Langshan and the Cuckoo Marans? Why are they no longer laying eggs? Why did the BCMs stop laying so soon?

They are in a very large pen (30x90) and they also get rotated into other areas in my yard with netting (50x50). They get grass, bugs, table scraps (only fresh and what they like), and organic feed. I rarely find eggs in odd places.

A fox came through 5 weeks ago and grabbed one of the Ameraucanas, but I scared him off and saved the hen. She was already molting when she went on antibiotics. I did not expect her to lay again until the new year. She is back to laying and I can't use her eggs because of the antibiotics.

I'm so confused!

Hi I live in Oak Point,

Hi I live in Oak Point, Manitoba. I was wondering if there is a way to find out if we are allowed to have chickens, and what guidelines we need to follow. Any help is appreciated.

hi! I am a newer chicken

hi! I am a newer chicken owner. We currently have 29 hens of mixed breeds that are about 18 mos old now (we got them as chicks). We have gone from 24 eggs/day down to 7-10 per day in the past 3-4 months!!! It's been a bit alarming as we thought we had another 6 months of good egg laying yet from our ladies. They all act healthy, lively and are eating good - both garden scraps and layer feed. I haven't seen a ton of feathers lately, but did notice some molting earlier this summer. Our breeds included Americauna, White Leghorns, Welsummer, Golden Laced Wyandotte, Speckled Sussex, and some other mixed breeds we can't identify. They have a large run, that is shaded with free access to water and I even have grass growing in boxes for them to get access to fresh grass when they want to, as well. No bug infestation, snakes, etc that we can find to cause stress. I do suspect that my Golden Laced Wyandottes are fighting as they're missing feathers along their heads (they actually look like Turkens!!), but haven't witnessed it myself yet. Would that be enough to stress the whole flock though? Thanks for any thoughts/ideas!

Your chickens are probably

Your chickens are probably molting (loosing their old feathers and growing new) while in their molt all the energy that normally goes into egg production goes into new feathers. They will start laying within 2-4 weeks, depending on the breed and age of the chicken.

Do chickens stop laying when

Do chickens stop laying when the nest get full? We were on vacation for two weeks and returned to 3 full nests. We have not gotten any new eggs since we returned.

Did your chickens start

Did your chickens start laying again, and if so, how long did it take for the laying to restart?
I have 2 hens. Returning from a two weeks holiday we had 27 eggs, just 1 short of normal. Apart from the day after we got back, one of my chickens is not laying. It has now been a week since we got back.

Are chickens still good to

Are chickens still good to eat at 3yr old. They are black sex links which are good for laying and eating. So are they still good to butcher and sell?

my three girls have a

my three girls have a "recycle" set up, I use the split lidded tubs that cat litter comes in, they get shredder paper bits for their nest box, and we use inexpensive solar shed lights to give them that extra bit of light in the winter! My girls laid all winter long! They come when i call and love the fresh sprouts i give them once a week!

Why do all of my chickens

Why do all of my chickens want to lay in the same box? We have enough boxes for all of them but they all want in one box?

I have a chicken question

I have a chicken question that I couldn't find anywhere online. We live in Northern Idaho and the days get short quick in the late fall and winter. We have done pretty good in keeping our chickens laying, as we had a heat lamp and light in the coop. But a couple of weeks ago we lost our electricity to our coop. The egg production dropped off rapidly. They were out of the extended light for a couple of weeks almost. But we did get everything hooked up again. But it has been 10 days and still no eggs. Will we get more eggs this winter do you think or is it a lost cause until the spring?

It may be a lost cause until

It may be a lost cause until the spring, rest assured they will lay eggs in the spring

Happy New Years to all and I

Happy New Years to all and I just joined today. As other members have posted my 6 hens only produce 1 or 2 eggs a day. 4 are cochin (with one cochin rooster); 2 are silkies, and a Rhode Island red. They went through molting about 2 months ago and I live in central PA; getting colder of course but have good size pen and protection from cold. I feed them mash, corn, and provide grit; always plenty of water. Should I try a different food? I give them some scraps but not a lot. I keep straw in their nests and they like some around the ground area. Any suggestions are most appreciated. They are nice pets but I'm still buying eggs!

When I was a boy, I had

When I was a boy, I had chickens for a 4H project. they quit laying in the winter and my grandmother, (part Native American) told me to go out to the hay manger and gather up some alfalfa leaves. She put them in a pot of water and warmed it up. I took it out to the chicken house and placed it in the middle of the pen. Bingo, they started laying again I continued this for the duration of the cold weather.

Please keep all comments on

The Editors's picture

Please keep all comments on topic, folks, or they will be deleted. And many thanks to the members of our community who have helped answer questions on this page!

I recently got my hands on

I recently got my hands on six Rhode Island reds, The previous owner said they would lay about 3-4 a day, and at first they did. Well now they have completely stopped laying all together! I went to feed them earlier today and they didn't even want to eat! Im worried, I live in louisiana. Could it be the heat? But they have also lived in louisiana there whole lives. Could it be the move? But they were laying after the move! I need help!!

Hi we live in Florida and

Hi we live in Florida and have several golden comets. They molted a few months ago and a few of them are not regaining their feathers. The skin color is pink on the back and a bright red on their bottoms. Is there anything we can do to help with this process. As far as I can tell they are still laying with no problems.

When we recently moved I

When we recently moved I adopted two bantam hens, coop and all. They are about 5 years old. They had been using nothing but straw for their coop and nesting area all their lives. The urban farm store around here convinced me to try special, non-dusty pine shavings made specially for hens. I cleaned the coop thoroughly and replaced all the straw with the shavings. They are extremely suspicious of the new digs. They don't even want to go in there. Any suggestions?

Yeah, give them back their

Yeah, give them back their straw. Store owners make their money selling stuff that most of our animals don't need, don't want and won't use.

Straw can get moldy when wet

Straw can get moldy when wet and mites seem to like it because it has hollow stalks. Hay is better, however they will get used to the shavings. Try putting down some treats with the shavings, like dried mealworms. I think mine would walk through fire to get them!

I have an old bantam we got

I have an old bantam we got from rescue. It was in fairly bad state but is so much better now. We are almost certain we have seen it lay eggs. I say it as it is now crowing and have not had any eggs for month any where near it. Any ideas. Hen or cockerel. Thanks.

i have 21 hens. they are

i have 21 hens. they are laying eggs about 8 months. now a days they go to lay the eggs in cage but after 15 to 20 mint they get up without laying a egg. this routine is about of 1month. only 2 of thems are laying regularly. and few of them try to lay an egg but he cannot lay egg. i dont know why. i think they have eggs production but cannot lay. i live in mountainy area. here my hens can wander here and there all the day. i think they took a long flight due which eggs get broke in there body. my hens are n0t the white colored. they are brown and red in color. ....

my hen has been sitting in

my hen has been sitting in the same coup box for 3 days - when i lifted her she was sat on 2 eggs i removed them but she wont move from her spot any suggestions?

You can remove her from the

You can remove her from the nest holding her for awhile away from the nesting box this I heard works some time she will complain when u remove her she is in a brooding mode I do asume you have no rooster so removing her might work or put her so she can not get back in the nest go to backyardchicken.com thats where I read it

My dad told me that when they

My dad told me that when they had a broody hen, they would dunk her in cold water. He said sometimes they had to do it twice, but it always broke their broodiness.

She has gone broody.Usually

She has gone broody.Usually the hen will lay on other chickens eggs.Her system shuts down and she stops laying and prepares for hatching babies.If you keep taking the eggs usually they'll stop this after awhile or you can isolate them so there won't be eggs to lay on and she should snap out of it sooner.Some hens are more broody then others mine I just let them go through it and remove the eggs.If you do let her sit on them and you have a rooster she may hatch you some chicks.

I was wondering if someone

I was wondering if someone would tell me how to clip the wings I have 11 RIR they are 51/2 months old but seem to want to wonder to next yard and I have to go round them up each night even though I live on an acre fully fenced yard they seem to escape now and agan so any help for my wayward girls

Only clip one wing so their

Only clip one wing so their flight will be off balance. You don't need to clip a lot off, maybe about 1 1/2 - 2 inches. If the ends of the feathers are black, that is what you want to clip off. They will grow back when the birds molten but not before unless they lose a feather for some other reason.

My broody hen sat on 11 eggs

My broody hen sat on 11 eggs for 21 days and only one chick hatched out. She continued to sit for two more days...nothing more hatched. On the third day she pecked one egg open and there was a fully formed chick inside but it was not alive. The remaining eggs feel heavy so expect they also have chicks. Why are they not hatching? Any help would be appreciated.

I have a 3 year old

I have a 3 year old roadisland red that wants to go to the nesting box, but no egg, i have checked and she is not egg bound, could she just be at the end of her laying cycle at 3?

Hello Elizabeth, I have 3

Hello Elizabeth, I have 3 Barred Rocks hens that are just over one year old. They all started laying at 6.5 months old last October with increasing regularity. As the length of day decreased, I supplemented with artificial light on a timer, and they kept laying. Then in December one pullet stopped laying. Her eggs always had a slight blood smear on the shell. She has not laid an egg since then and has gotten fat. Here it is May, she's a full-grown hen, and a nonlayer. Do you think she will ever lay again? Or, is she destined for the stewpot? Please advise, and thank you.

My 6 month old hens suddenly

My 6 month old hens suddenly stopped producing. I have 4 production reds. I was getting 3-4 everyday. The last week I am getting 1-2. I feed them 20% protein pellets but they free range my 1/3 acre lot and eat a very modest amount of feed. Days are getting longer not shorter. Any ideas?

I have 1 leghorn 2 sexlinks 1

I have 1 leghorn 2 sexlinks 1 barred rock. Every night i take all the left overs from the day, I call them they come running they go in the run and wait for the food they also get chicken feed. I also heard cat food has alot of protein so they eat the cat food. They will produce again be patient

I have 4 hens a year old and

I have 4 hens a year old and get 3-4 eggs everyday they are free range but they have wondered to far lately so i bought a dog run and put the coop in the run across the yard away from the pourch and kept them in the run for a week letting them out in short sperts thinking they will stay home. Now I get 1-2 eggs. Did I blow it by moving the coop.. Are they unhappy now

Is it possible that they are

Is it possible that they are laying their eggs somewhere other than their Coop? Assuming their coop allows plenty of space, we would suggest that you only let them out in the early afternoon for a couple weeks. Then, do not let them out until 10 am or so--as chickens usually lay early in the day once they get established.

Sense the last time i wrote.

Sense the last time i wrote. My girls have started laying again. I spoin my chickens i also give them table scrapes being careful not to give them spicy foods.. They love cooked rice. They run to me when i come outside. I may one day get more, I heard they will pick on chicks or new chickens so I guess i will wait.

I live in North Florida,

I live in North Florida, which is beginning to feel - temperature wise - like living in Central Florida. Which breeds of chickens do best in very hot temperatures with high humidity?

I live in sunny north

I live in sunny north queensland austalia and I have 8 chooks. The chooks are not a year old and we are getting very few eggs. I thought maybe they were laying elsewhere so I have locked them up till 5 pm and have got no eggs. Why is this?

Hens need a lot of light to

Hens need a lot of light to lay eggs and light in your area is decreasing. The usual issue is that the hens are moulting and may not lay again for a few months...but they will eventually start again.

Hi, I wonder if my hen

Hi, I wonder if my hen hatches her own chicks, will they be safe in the pen or ranging free with the rest of the flock or do I need to keep her in a separate area?

The baby needs to be kept

The baby needs to be kept separate and safe from other hens who can get jealous and might kill the chick. Also: When the baby is ready to hatch do not assist!

i have 8 female chicken but

i have 8 female chicken but no egg what am i doing wrong please

Hi Eyenader, If you aren't

Hi Eyenader,
If you aren't giving your chickens extra (timed) light in the winter, they won't lay eggs. Or, you may not be feeding them the right kind of food. Talk to the chicken expert where you buy their food.

I am thinking about raising

I am thinking about raising chicks! I read all your information but I was wondering if you have any advice for me? I am planning on getting my chicks from Wilco. If you have any advice it would be greatly appreciated i have never had chickens before but I think it will be a great experience!Thanks!

I have 18 hens. They are

I have 18 hens. They are divided into three seperate coops-the way I bought the groupings. I do spoil mine, more so in these colder months. I give them all the table scraps. I have heat lamps in all three coops. I have coops wrapped with clear plastic on all the wire area's in order to let the natural light in. If day is over cast I do turn on just regular 60wtt light for them to get that "sunlight" feel. Have been getting 11-12 eggs daily. Five of my "ladies" are 2yrs plus. I will also say they do enjoyed being talked to, so if you even leave a radio on for them-could possibly help. Good luck to you.

Oh, Kim! I've never heard of

The Editors's picture

Oh, Kim! I've never heard of hens being so incredibly stubborn!

A couple of things come to mind. Are you feeding a layer mash or pellet? Hens need calcium for shell production and the muscle tone to lay - you might want to give them some chicken grit (crushed oyster shell). Are they getting actual sunlight?

Are the hens suited to your climate? Some breeds want warmer weather, and some cooler.

If it's any consolation, my hens aren't laying up to expectations either this year. I have Harcos, which should be laying at 75% - nine eggs per day per twelve hens. I've had them before and got that kind of production. This year I'm getting two to four eggs from eleven hens.

If all else fails, you may want to start with new chickens.

Good luck - let me know how it goes!


I've heard that sometimes

I've heard that sometimes hens will find a spot to lay eggs out of the pen somewhere. I wonder if this is what is happening?

I have a question, I have

I have a question, I have read your info about chickens that have stopped laying, I'm not sure if winter is my issue or not. I have 10 females ranging in age from 2 yrs to 1 yr old, they free range get plenty of feed but I only get 1 eggs every few days from my oldest 2 yr old hen the 9 others nothing, I got a couple here and there during summer but most eggs I got at any one time was 4 and that was only 1 or 2 occasions. I have 4 nest boxes in coop, 1 rooster, but after the youngest were 1 yr I just thought I'd be getting more eggs per day. All were picked as breeds that were supposed to be heavy egg layers too. Not sure what may be going on. If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them! Thanks

This may not apply to your

This may not apply to your problem but I had a thought or two to share to possibly help you. First, since they are free-ranging...Are you SURE that some are not laying in a nest of their own making somewhere on the property? Chickens, like people, don't always get along so they avoid each other. Maybe there are nests or spots they are using on the land and perhaps, other critters are eating the eggs. Other than that, chicken hens may stop laying if they get yeast, fungus, and/or bacterial infections or get mite infested or sore around their vents. Any kind of stress including fear of other animals (like snakes, etc.) could stop the laying. I recommend looking for things that might be stressing them if they truly seem to not be laying or laying less.

I really like your

I really like your information, Elizabeth! My parents grew up on farms but lived in a small town where I was born. We moved to a farm when I was 12. My dad had some small variations on your suggestions: he had a wide shelf with small trees on shallow wedges for the perch. That made it easy to just remove the perch and use a hoe or shovel to scrape the manure into a bucket and carry to the garden. Because of the shelf, we didn't have any flooring - the coop was built on top of concrete foundation. (Wear shoes when walking inside!) He also had a smaller coop than you recommended, but we had a larger area for the chickens to roam as well. One thing you didn't mention is that the owner might need to trim some wing feathers to keep chickens from flying over fences when chasing grasshoppers or other insects! I can say that I enjoyed the chickens as a kid -- I learned to imitate all of them -- cluck, crow, and peep, so now my kids just think I'm weird!

LOL, my kids and their

LOL, my kids and their friends think I am also, yes, I clip the wing on each bird to prevent the grass is greener on the other side issue. But yes, I lvoe my birds, watching them, the kids love them it is such a great way to teach them about life and all, we homeschool also. But beep cock and crow away, they will laugh with you remembering the good ole days soon.


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