Egg Laying Problems
Egg laying problems come from several things, stress, diet, and environment. If you are having problems with your fowl laying properly, look for some of the signs listed below.
Stress can occur from lots of different things, but is mostly caused by change in the fowl's surroundings. Moving the bird to a new pen, adding birds to your flock, moving the roosts or nests, are examples of this. Typically, this kind of thing will cause your birds to quit laying for a few days, but they will soon adjust, and start laying again. Stress can also come from extreme weather conditions. Extreme heat, cold, dampness, and dryness can all stress out a chicken. Most of the time, there isn't much you can do about this, just do your best to keep your fowl comfortable in these conditions.
Diet is a big factor to solid egg production. Laying hens need extra Calcium, and Vitamin D in their diet to produce strong egg shells. They also need a good supply of clean water, as eggs take a lot of water to make. To get the calcium they need, you can feed them laying pellets, which has extra calcium in it, or provide oyster shells for them. Vitamin D will be naturally produced by lots of sunlight, but if you are having soft egg shells, you may need to try to increase the bird's exposure to sunlight, or treat them with a Vitamin D supplement.
The length of the exposure to light has a direct effect on how well a chicken lays eggs. Along with helping synthesize vitamin D, it works on their internal clock, forcing them to lay. You can even put a timed light on your hens in the short winter days to get them to start, or lay better. Lack of light will certainly drop your egg production.
Health issues can also make a bird quit laying, or lay poorly. If your hens aren't healthy, it doesn't allow them to produce eggs like they should. Even things like mites can cause them to lay poorly. Moulting also drops egg production, it will pick up again after they are through the molt. Diseases can affect this also, you can find out more about diagnosing, and treating them in our Poultry Disease section.