We are still relatively new at keeping chickens (we got our first in September last year) so we are still learning about keeping them. Recently we have gone from an egg mountain to a big drop in production. We are getting only 2 or 3 a day where previously we were getting 5 or 6. We thought the hens were possibly laying in a hidden location on the allotment as they did recently, but a thorough search turned up nothing. Yesterday I kept the hens in the chicken run until the mid afternoon to see if they were actually laying or not. Again, we ended up with just 3 eggs. They also disliked being kept in the chicken run and complained loudly until I let them out in the late afternoon.
We speculated that perhaps some of them were not laying because they were getting a bit fat. Yet they have plenty of exercise and though they are a good weight, obesity does not seem to be affecting them. Today we think we found the solution. The hen house contained a large number of feathers when I opened it this morning. And this afternoon, the hens were sitting near the greenhouse and were surrounded by feathers. It appears some are moulting and this can temporarily stop egg production. I'm not sure how long it will be before moulting is over and they start laying again. The moult is affecting only a couple of birds but we could do with them getting back into egg production as soon as possible.