You may have noticed your hens laying their eggs at night. This can be a worrisome event, as I am sure most of you know it is abnormal for seasoned laying hens.
But why are your hens laying eggs at night? This behavior is typically observed in battery hens that have been forced to lay eggs around the clock, causing their body to be out-of-sync with natural daylight.
Soft eggs are usually due to poor calcium intake in the hen’s diet, though there can be other hidden reasons.
If you have bought your hen from a battery farm at a bargain, but notice this abnormal behavior, it is still possible to regulate your hen back on track with proper treatment. Continue reading to find out more!
Three reasons why your chickens may be laying eggs at night
There are several reasons why your hens could be laying eggs while roosting at night. Below is a list of reasons, including some workable solutions.
Young Immature Hen
If your hens have just started laying, it is common for them to lay soft-shelled eggs in the beginning while they are sitting on their roost at night.
These are called ‘pullet’ eggs. The pullet eggs are typically smaller than regular eggs and are often slightly deformed.
This happens because their reproductive system has not yet fully matured. This can cause them to lay their eggs without much effort while roosting at night.
A hen’s first 2-3 eggs may be produced this way, and there is typically no need to be concerned if this does not continue.
The only thing you need to do to help promote healthy egg-laying during this period is to ensure your hens receive a balanced diet that includes a healthy amount of calcium.
They should begin to lay healthier eggs after the first two soft-shelled eggs once their body gets used to laying regularly.
Too bright at night
Have you ever forgotten to turn off the light before you fall asleep? Did you sleep well that night? Can you function well without proper sleep? Well, neither can your chickens.
If you leave their coop light perpetually on, it can cause unneeded stress, which in turn will cause a decrease in egg production.
It tricks the hens into thinking it is daylight hours, even when it is nighttime outside. If you need a heat lamp, you should get a low-wattage red light lamp.
Chickens typically only need 14-16 hours of daylight. During the winter, the days are shorter, so you can provide your hens with artificial lighting to help mitigate the lack of natural sunlight.
If you feel your hens may need a lamp to provide them with longer daylight hours during seasons of shorter days, fall and winter, there are also lamp options that allow you to put timers on them.
That way, they can automatically shut on and off when you need them to.
Poor living conditions at previous farm
If you have bought fully grown hens from another farm, it is vital to know the conditions in which they were raised. This is especially important if you are looking to ensure they will produce healthy eggs.
Battery hens are hens that have been confined to battery cages on farms that produce mass amounts of eggs.
These farms will push their hens to their egg-producing limits by keeping them under lights 24/7, forcing them to lay eggs that are uncoordinated with natural daylight, or ‘out of sync’.
After you adopt chickens from battery farms, you may also notice them sleeping on the ground or not roosting at night.
Can my hen adjust itself back to normal routine?
It takes time for chickens to adjust to their new living conditions. It is important to remember that these hens are used to sleeping in cages and laying eggs at all hours.
These chickens are often forced to lay for 18 months (about 1 and a half years) straight without a break. As a result, this can cause a hen to burn out early in the egg-laying process.
After they have reached their 300-320 egg production limit, these hens are sold off by farmers for low prices.
This stressful environment can also shorten the lifespan of these hens, which is why it is essential to know where your hens are coming from when you buy them.
It is possible for these hens to get back coordinated with the seasons and with daylight, but it takes time after adopting them from farms with those conditions.
Providing these hens with calcium supplements and good vitamin-rich food can also encourage their reproductive systems to begin laying regularly again.
Giving these newly adopted chickens a spacious, safe chicken coop is also a great way to help them adjust to their new home.
This will help reduce unnecessary stressors, and it will help encourage them to begin adopting normal chicken behaviors, such as roosting at night and laying during the day.
Signs that my hens have ‘out of sync’ laying habits
Hens have hormones that their body produces by their pituitary gland at the back of their eyes. These hormones are what their bodies use to regulate their egg production.
It is important to notice changes in behavior right away so that you can figure out the issue to help your little ladies.
If these signs are caught early enough, it can make adjusting their laying, feeding, and sleeping hours much easier.
Laying soft eggs
If your chickens are laying soft eggs, this can result from complications in your hens’ reproductive system, which may cause them to lay uncoordinated with daylight hours.
They could be lacking the amount of calcium and vitamins that are needed to produce healthy eggs.
Your hens could be suffering from a mite infestation at night while they are sleeping. Mites are blood-sucking parasites that live in the small cracks and bedding of hen houses.
They are extremely difficult to expel and have severe adverse effects on the health of your chickens and their egg production.
Mite infestations present themselves as irritation of the skin, stress, and lower production of eggs.
These infestations may also present themselves as hens lying in odd places or lying during the night.
Mites can also cause them to not lay at all or lay unhealthy eggs at night while roosting. In extreme cases, mite infestations can also cause your chickens to become anemic and die.
Lethargic behavior is also a sign that your hens are uncoordinated.
If your hens are up all night laying or sleeping during the day or not eating and drinking, this behavior could lead to malnourished hens that will not lay healthy eggs, or they will quit laying eggs altogether.
How to regulate egg-laying cycles ensure healthier hens
It is possible to regulate egg-laying to encourage healthier, more regular egg laying from your hens.
Promote longer daylight when days are shorter
During the months when the days get shorter, you can leave your lamp on in your hen house longer to promote longer daylight hours for your hens.
It is highly encouraged that you use a lamp with a timer so that you do not forget to unplug your lamp and risk throwing your hens uncoordinated with the daylight hours.
Be sure if you are using a lamp in your henhouse, and it is not near something flammable, especially if it is on a timer.
It is vital that you make sure your chickens are receiving the proper nutrients. There is a special type of feed called “layer feed” that is made to provide hens with the proper amounts of vitamins.
If you notice your hens are laying abnormal eggs, misshaped, soft-shelled, you can also try calcium and vitamins. Chickens require no less than 4 grams of calcium a day to produce hard-shelled eggs.
Feed eggshells and oyster shells
Another way some people provide their chickens with extra nutrients is they will compost eggshells, oyster shells, etc.
They will feed this to their chickens. Feeding your hens old eggshells helps return some of the calcium they lose when laying eggs back into their bodies.
Regulate meal hours
Feeding your chickens right after their light is turned on in their coop or right after the sun’s natural light starts coming through is also a great idea to help encourage your little ladies to lay coordinated with the daylight.
When you are woken up by light, aren’t you typically cranky and in need of your daily dose of caffeine or breakfast? Well, so are your hens.
By feeding them in the mornings, right as they start to wake up and get ready for their day, your hens will be happier, healthier, and altogether less stressed, with fresh food and water.
If your chickens are laying eggs at night, it is imperative to look at the age of your hens, their habits, diets, and their surrounding environment for stressors.
Contact your veterinarian right away if you think they may be infected by an infestation or require antibiotics.
Suppose you find that your chickens are laying uncoordinated due to habitat or diet.
In that case, they can be resynced by supplying the proper amount of light and dark using a timer lamp and ensuring they receive the proper vitamins and nutrients from their chicken feed.