Why Have My Chickens Stopped Laying Eggs in Summer?
You should be concerned when your chickens suddenly stop laying eggs. This is due to the fact that the sight of empty nest boxes can be disappointing. Especially, when you are about to collect the expected number of laid eggs in a day.
So, if you have ever experienced your hens stop laying eggs, then you certainly know how extremely frustrating it can be. In most cases you may go through several days, weeks, or months of bountiful egg production on your farm, only to wake up to a handful of eggs in the nest boxes.
Such cases are more common in summer than at any other time of the year. The question is, why do chickens stop laying eggs in summer? During the summer months, your chickens will stop laying eggs due to extreme heat. They will focus their energy to cool their body instead of egg production.
Best Temperature for Hens to Lay Eggs
Now that you know why chickens stop laying eggs in summer, your next question should be about the best temperature for your hens to produce eggs.
The best temperature for chickens to lay the maximum number of eggs is between 50-75 °F. This temperature range is the ambient temperature that your layers require to stay productive during their egg production phase. Below or above this ambient temperature, egg-laying diminishes or stops.
On the other hand, hearty winter chicken breeds keep on producing eggs provided that they have access to enough water and food.
Temperature plays an integral role in egg production among different breeds of chickens. It can affect the production of eggs at different seasons of the year. Cold weather conditions can as well cause your layers to stop egg production.
When it is too hot, egg production among your flock of layers declines drastically. Extreme cold or hot temperatures are likely to determine the number of eggs you can collect on a given day.
Once your birds start laying eggs, they require around 14 hours of light and optimal temperature to lay continuously. However, in the Northern Hemisphere following the summer solstice in June, the light decreases as winter approaches.
If you are a chicken owner in this part of the globe, you may assume that your hens stopped laying due to colder temperatures. While low temperature can negatively impact egg production in chickens, light can also cause a drastic decline of eggs produced per day. You can remedy this problem by providing enough artificial light to compensate for the minimal hours of daylight.
Overall, temperatures exceeding 90℉ can increase the risk of heat-related illnesses and stress in your chickens, including death. Long durations of temperatures coupled with high humidity create an uncomfortable environment for both chickens and human beings.
Apparently, the degree of heat stress in your flock of birds depends largely on several factors such as the diet, breed, and chicken’s living quarters. The size of your chicken breed is yet another factor that contributes so much to heat-related problems in chickens.
For instance, heavier chicken breeds are likely to become overheated at a temperature of about 85℉. On the contrary, lighter or smaller chicken breeds generally thrive better in heat conditions.
Here are common signs of heatstroke and heat stress in chickens during hot summer days:
- Decreased egg production when hens are subjected to prolonged heat exposure
- Breathing heavily through open beaks while moving their tongues
- Wings drooping slightly away from their bodies
- Lethargic behavior
- Decreased appetite
- Pale combs and wattles
When you notice the above-listed signs and symptoms in your chickens, you should take drastic measures to keep them comfortable. Such measures make it fairly possible to keep your flock of layers and even other chickens cool in hot summer weather conditions.
Keeping Your Chickens Cool in Summer
If your location is known for hot summers, you should consider finding ways to keep your flock of chickens cool. In other words, you must design and set up your chicken coop or run with reliable cooling measures at the back of your mind.
Check out these simple modifications to give you a slight idea of what you need to do in order to make your hens continue laying eggs even in hot summer months:
– Provide Shade
Providing some shade to your chickens can help them cool during hot summer days. This is actually one of the most affordable, simple, and crucial measures that you can take to save your birds from excess heat.
The shade can be in the form of trees where your birds can easily retreat on hot, sunny days. As a matter of fact, chickens love hanging out under the trees or even perching on the branches when roaming the yard.
If your chicken coop or run is situated in an area that is mostly sunny, provide additional shade. You can achieve this fit by draping a large piece of black shade cloth overhead.
A better option would be to string cool shade canopies between trees, fences, or posts to create a large area under the shade. Those shades can help your chickens feel secure not only from the hot sun but also from predators.
– Cool Clean Water
Just like other land animals, chickens need water. For that reason, make sure to supply them with enough cool clean, and freshwater. Especially on the hottest days of summer, your birds will need cool water to refresh themselves several times a day.
The addition of ice cubes to your chickens’ water will also help them cool off and hydrate themselves to stay comfortable in hot weather conditions. Frozen treats such as frozen vegetables and frozen fruits can do better in place of ice.
Keep your chickens’ waterers in shady and accessible locations but not inside the coop. The addition of electrolytes to water may help your birds stay hydrated, active, and healthy throughout the summertime. Also, adding electrolytes helps minimize signs and symptoms of heat stress.
Good ventilation will ensure that your birds stay comfortable and cool even during the hottest days of the year in your area. In this regard, you should provide good and efficient ventilation inside the chicken coop. Ensure that each coop has a screen with fully predator-proof openings to allow free circulation of air that can provide a nice cross-breeze to your chickens.
In any case, your coop is buttoned up for winter conditions using solid walls and doors, you can easily swap these structures with wire fencing. The wire fencing option will make ventilation easy and effective throughout the summer months.
Installation of a fan inside the coop is also a good option. However, you may require a source of reliable electricity to power the fan. Solar-powered fans can be a great choice to save money on electricity bills.
Avoid overcrowding within the coop or run. Crowding on hot days can be detrimental to the well-being of your birds, especially in hot conditions. At least 4 square feet of space inside the coop and 10 square feet of outdoor space per bird can help reduce overcrowding.
The decision to provide ventilation to your chickens will depend solely on how much time your birds spend inside their coop. The evening temperatures will also help determine the type of ventilation your chickens need.
Is Misting Good for Chickens in Hot Weather?
Yes! Misting is a great way to keep your chickens cool on hot days. You can use misters or sprinklers to supply enough moisture inside the coop to cool off your birds when it gets hot.
Since misting provides airborne water droplets, it helps cool the air inside the coop. Therefore, misting is one of the most effective ways to cool your chickens in places that experience regular hot days.
When Will My Hens Start Laying Again?
If your chickens stopped laying eggs in hot summer, they are likely to resume egg production when the fall/autumn sets in.
This is the time when temperatures are reducing to create a conducive environment for layers to focus on producing eggs rather than cooling themselves.
The environment in which you are raising your chickens can determine their productivity both in eggs and meat. So, your hens may stop laying eggs in summer due to soaring temperatures.
Instead of laying eggs, they will try to find ways to keep themselves cool and comfortable. You may help them by creating a conducive environment that will allow them to produce eggs without interference.