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Why do hens stop laying eggs?

If laying hens are receiving proper management, the most common reason for reduction of lay is a reduction of light. The reproductive state of all birds is strongly regulated by the amount of light that they receive each day. If hens are to maintain a constant state of egg production, they must be subjected to at least 16 hours of light every day. This light can be provided from sunlight, artificial light sources, or a combination.

When the day length is increasing between December 21 and June 21, the birds are stimulated into an increased reproductive state, but between June 21 and December 21, the reverse occurs and the birds cease to produce eggs. These effects produce the natural breeding seasons for birds in a natural environment. The recommended rule of lighting for pullets and hens is: "Never increase light on growing birds, but never decrease light on mature laying hens." A violation of this rule results in undesirable hens that do not lay eggs.

A good lighting program for hens requires that light be provided at:

  1. The proper length of time every day.
  2. A minimum intensity.
  3. The proper color.

The recommended day length is 16-18 hours daily. The minimum light intensity is 1 foot-candle or sufficient light to clearly see the level of feed while standing over the feeder. The stimulatory color of light is a yellow or orange that approximates the spectrum of sunlight. Artificial light fixtures that provide excellent light for laying hens are incandescent bulbs, warm-white fluorescent tubes, and many of the halogen lights that produce a yellowish colored light.

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Dressed in a pink T-shirt and blue jeans, broiler grower Teresa Dyess stands next to two wagon wheels in front of a barn on her family farm.
Filed Under: Women for Agriculture, Poultry October 20, 2017

In three days, Teresa Dyess shifted her business focus from produce to poultry.

The change began two years ago with an offhand remark from her husband, Joe Dyess.

 “He told a broiler grower in Wayne County we wouldn’t mind building pullet houses because we wanted to diversify our farm,” she said. “We didn’t think any more about it, and then the next day a poultry processor called and offered us a contract. A banker came the next day, and everything fell into place.”

Lanette Crocker, coordinator for the MSU Extension Service in Wayne County, said Teresa Dyess’ adaptability has helped her maintain success through the farm’s transition.

Hen flock inventories grew after the poultry industry recovered from the 2015 avian influenza outbreak, increasing the number of eggs on the market and driving down the price. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
Filed Under: Poultry August 4, 2017

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Mississippi's poultry industry remains healthy with a strong demand for broilers and a positive outlook for the remainder of 2017.

Filed Under: Avian Flu March 30, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- All Mississippians who raise any species of poultry are being urged to follow strict biosecurity practices and review new requirements regarding sales and exhibitions.

Tom Tabler, poultry specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said that while avian influenza is not a threat to human health or food safety, an outbreak would endanger backyard flocks and the state’s nearly $3 billion commercial poultry industry.

Choosing the right breed of chickens for a backyard flock is an important decision. From left, Tripp, Luna and Charlie Sanders examine chicks for sale March 8, 2017, in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kat Lawrence)
Filed Under: Poultry March 16, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Families willing to host a flock of feathered friends reap the benefits of fresh eggs delivered daily just outside the door.

What started several years ago as an underground "urban chicken" movement has become much more common and widely accepted. Today, raising backyard chickens has gained popularity nationwide, boosted by interest in locally grown foods that avoid the energy use and carbon emissions typically associated with transporting food.

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