ISA Browns are popular among backyard chicken keepers because they are prolific egg layers.
But what if your hens start laying fewer eggs? Or maybe some have stopped laying altogether.
So what causes ISA Brown chickens to stop laying eggs?
Hybrid chicken breeds, like ISA Browns, continue to lay eggs during most of the fall and molting. ISA Browns are unlikely to go broody and stop laying. However, many factors can decrease egg production. Examples include old age, poor nutrition, illness, less daylight, and a stressful environment.
ISA Brown Chickens
ISA Browns are a popular chicken breed born in France.
As reflected by their name, these birds are brown, and so are their eggs. ISA Brown chickens were initially a commercial breed intended for the poultry industry.
However, because of their friendly and quiet nature, this low-maintenance breed is now popular among backyard keepers.
In addition to being an affectionate chicken, this breed of bird is highly desirable because it can lay lots of eggs. At its best, this prolific layer can lay over 300 eggs in one year.
Hybrid Breeds Like ISA Browns Lay Through Most of Fall
Once a year, starting in the fall, adult chickens undergo molting. During molting, chickens will shed old feathers and replace them with new ones.
Chicken molting can take up to 12 to 16 weeks to complete.
Molting and egg-laying both require a lot of energy. This is why many chicken breeds take a break from egg production during molting.
A benefit of hybrid birds, like the ISA Brown, is their ability to continue laying eggs during most molting periods.
ISA Browns Are Less Likely to Go Broody
Another reason chickens stop laying is broodiness.
When hens go broody, they mistakenly think their eggs are fertilized. Thus, broody girls will stop laying and instead sit on their eggs for up to 21 days.
Another advantage of hybrid breeds, like the ISA Brown, is they are less likely to go broody.
Read more: Can ISA Brown chickens go clucky?
Reasons ISA Browns Don’t Lay Eggs
Egg Production Decreases With Age
An unavoidable cause of decreased egg production is old age.
Hens start laying when they are 18 to 22 weeks old. As hens age, they lay fewer eggs of lower quality. Therefore, many hens are culled at about 2 to 3 years old.
However, because ISA Browns lay lots of eggs essentially year-round, their lifespan tends to be shorter than other breeds.
When the hen is done laying, consider butchering her to eat to get one last use out of her.
Related Post: Eating ISA Brown Chickens: Is It Worth It?
Illness Can Interfere With Egg Production
Any health issue can prevent your hen from laying eggs.
Sick hens tend to be weaker and use more energy to cope with their illness.
For example, intestinal worms take nutrients from chickens, leaving less energy available to lay eggs.
Other possible issues include external parasites (e.g. lice, mites) and infectious diseases (e.g. avian influenza).
Hens may also stop laying if they are egg-bound.
This occurs when an egg gets stuck in the vagina and is a life-threatening emergency.
A Stressful Environment Can Hinder Egg Laying
Any form of severe stress can temporarily halt egg production. While illness causes physiological stress, stress can come from the environment.
Potential environmental sources of stress in chickens:
- Overcrowding due to insufficient space per chicken
- Aggressive behavior issues due to the pecking order
- Fear of predators
- Excessive mounting of hens from too many roosters
- Recent transportation or changes to the coop
- Introduction of new chickens
Poor Nutrition Inhibits Egg Laying
Improper nutrition can make your chicken sick, but it also connects to egg production.
The best way to provide a complete and balanced diet for your beautiful birds is to feed a commercial feed.
A commercial high-grade feed is designed to provide specific amounts of proteins and vitamins a chicken needs.
It is tempting to offer your chickens tasty morsels, like scratch and table scraps.
But treats must only be fed in moderation. At least 90% of your flock’s food must come from an appropriate complete feed.
Laying hens have different nutritional requirements than non-laying chickens. Most notably, these hard-working girls need a lot of calcium.
Thus, egg-laying hens must be fed a complete layer feed. If your hens’ nutritional needs are not met, they may stop laying eggs and develop other health problems.
Seasonal Changes Like Daylight and Temperature Affect Egg Production
Daylight plays a big role in egg production.
Chickens need at least 14 hours of daylight to lay.
But 16 hours of daylight is optimal for egg production.
With shorter days during the fall and winter, insufficient daylight hours may cause a decrease in egg production.
Fortunately, it is easy to address this by providing artificial light.
Supplemental light is easy to incorporate into your chicken coop, like with these Solar Light Bulbs on Amazon.
Another environmental factor that influences egg production is temperature.
If the environment is too hot or too cold, your hens will expend more energy to regulate their body temperature.
This means your hens will have less energy available for egg production. Fortunately, ISA Browns are fairly hardy birds compared to other breeds.
However, we still recommend regulating your backyard flock’s environment by insulating their coop during the winter and changing their water more during the summer.
Further Reading: Are ISA Brown Chickens Cold Hardy?
Tips to Motivate Your Chickens to Lay Eggs
If your ISA Browns are not laying, evaluate your flock’s environment, age, health, and nutrition for possible problems.
These are ways to improve your backyard chicken flock management and promote a high egg yield.
Tips to encourage egg-laying:
- Provide multiple nesting boxes
- Collect eggs frequently
- Monitor egg production for early recognition of any drop in egg production
- Introduce new chickens slowly
- Separate aggressive chickens
- Monitor your chicken coop’s temperature
- Provide enough indoor and outdoor space based on the size of your flock
- Maintain a secure enclosure, so your chickens feel safe from predators
Do Not Panic!
There are many reasons your ISA Browns may be laying fewer eggs. If one of your hens is not laying, she is not necessarily a “bad egg.”
While old age cannot be avoided, some causes of decreased egg production are easily solved by adjusting management practices.
Want to become an expert on ISA Brown care?
Check out our guide to ISA Brown chicken eggs.
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