Do Chickens Lay Eggs in The Winter?
We all know that summer days are longer than winter and have more sunlight. The northern hemisphere has the highest peak hours of daylight around June 21 and the lowest hours around December 21. As you go about your day, you probably don’t notice the changes in the days.
The difference is often so slow that it goes unnoticed. But not for your hens! Hens closely monitor these things, and they adjust their egg production accordingly. The peak season for chicken egg-laying is when there’s almost daylight. So summer is their best season.
As winter draws near, the number of eggs laid by hens decreases. Your hens may stop laying eggs for a time during winter. Sometimes they will use the “resting” period as a time to molt or regrow new feathers. Molting takes a lot of energy. It’s difficult for hens to manage multiple tasks and regrow feathers at once.
See Also: How Cold Can Chickens Tolerate?
It Happens Because:
Are the hens paying attention to the number of minutes that the sun shines each day? It’s not true. Their bodies naturally do this, much like breathing.
Baby chicks must hatch in warm weather. Hens will begin egg production when there are at least 14 hours of daylight each day. They will slow down when the daylight drops.
Improve Your Chances:
Do chickens lay eggs all year? The short answer to this question is no. The long answer is: Maybe. This is not a new path for chicken keepers.
For years, chicken breeders have chosen specific traits to make excellent egg layers. Start with an egg-layer breed to increase your chances of getting fresh eggs all winter.
Some serious chicken keepers use artificial lighting to encourage their chickens to continue laying eggs in the fall.
This is done to increase the speed of summer egg production. Some chicken owners prefer to keep things more natural and enjoy the eggs while they still can.
See Also: How Long Do Chicks Need a Heat Lamp?
Good Nutrition For Year-Round Egg Production
Do Chickens Lay Eggs in The Winter? Your hens won’t lay if they don’t get enough nutrition. They will use the nutrients in their food to stay healthy. They need more calories in winter to keep warm. For a carb boost, try adding corn or black-oil sunflower seeds to your diet in cold weather.
To ensure that eggs are produced, make sure they have good quality layers. If their egg production is declining, adding protein can be a great option.
Your hens will cease laying if they are in a molt. It can take between 2 and 3 months. You can find feed formulas that provide the extra nutrition they require to help them get through the molt fast. If your molting chickens are getting old or you don’t want to feed them, you can cull them. [Learn More]
You Must Often Gather Those Eggs
If you don’t keep your chicken coop warm (which is not a good idea), check for eggs several times per day and then bring them home. The eggs should not freeze as they can crack, become hard to beat, and have a rubbery texture once cooked.
You Can Plan Ahead To Get Eggs All Winter From Your Laying Hens.
Before the hours of daylight decrease and your egg production slows, make sure you have all the necessary supplies. It may take several weeks for your hens to come back into production.
Here’s a list of things you need to do to produce winter eggs.
1. Light fixture and LED light bulb
3. Water Tank De-icer
4. Corn or Sunflower Seeds for Extra Calories
When setting up, make sure the timer, light fixture, and water de-icer are suitable for your barn.
Slowly add some corn or sunflower seeds to the chickens’ food and increase as needed. It is not a good idea to suddenly change their diet.
Do Chickens Lay Eggs in The Winter? Chicken Breeds That Lay Eggs During Winter
New Hampshire Red
This breed of hens can produce up to three large eggs per week, even in winter.
For colder climates, another heavy-bodied chicken with small combs makes excellent egg layers.
These colorful birds can also be productive, even in winter, if you are okay with having blue and green eggs in the coop.
Rhode Island Red
This breed is extremely cold-hardy. This chicken can wander even in severe winters due to its tight feathering and fluff. To prevent frostbite, breeders should regularly inspect the wattles and comb of these fowls.
This large, dual-purpose chicken can withstand severe winters and could even scavenge well. They are warm due to their thick plumage and lots of fluff underneath.
This chicken breed can withstand frosty conditions because of its thick feathered coat and lots of fluff beneath. To prevent frostbite, be sure to check their wattles and combs during winter.
This chicken is also great for urban settings because it has lots of loose feathering. They keep them warm even in the coldest months. But, a hen may die from a chill if its insulating feathers become wet.
They are cold-hardy because of their dense feathering. Their wattles and combs need to be looked after, just like other hardy chicken breeds.
This breed produces robust, cold-hardy hens that can withstand harsh winters. Their dense, loose feathering keeps them warm during winter nights and days like most other breeds. Make sure that their rose comb doesn’t become frostbitten.
The Dutch breed is extremely winter-hardy and can lay beautiful terracotta eggs with just a few speckles.
The best hens for egg production in cold climates are the hens. They produce four large, brown eggs per week, even in winter.
Because of their thick plumage, these chickens can withstand cold.
Do I have to force my hens to lay eggs in winter?
Before we get into making chickens lay eggs in the winter months, we should first ask ourselves: Should we allow chickens to lay eggs in the winter months?
Many backyard chicken owners ask this question.
Is It Ethical To Force Our Chickens Into Laying Eggs in Winter?
Do Chickens Lay Eggs in The Winter? As backyard chicken owners, it is obvious that we don’t raise chickens to make a profit. Many times our backyard chickens are like our household pets!
Nevertheless, backyard chicken owners often raise them for eggs and need enough eggs to last through the winter.
My hens are my pets, and I love to give them a break after a long summer of hard work.
It is extremely strenuous work to produce and lay eggs. After a while, it can cause severe injuries.
It can be very harmful to their bodies if they are forced to lay eggs for an extended period without any rest. In extreme cases, it may even cause permanent damage.
Let nature do the rest and let my girls enjoy the winter!
But I understand why some people keep their chickens warm during winter.
As with many things, the answer is not always right or wrong.
There are many grey areas.
If you are allowing nature to take its course and not forcing your hens into laying during the winter months, you should read this article to learn how to preserve eggs during summer so that you have enough for winter.
See Also: Chicken Coops For Sale Near Me
Artificial Lighting in the Coop
Do Chickens Lay Eggs in The Winter? Most commercial chicken farmers and poultry keepers keep their flocks under lighting throughout the winter. This allows the chickens to produce eggs at their best for twelve months.
To keep their production going, chickens require twelve to fourteen hours of daylight. Artificial lighting is the only way to supply this light during winter.
A 40w lightbulb is sufficient to light a 10×10 coop.
Make sure the lightbulb is properly fitted. I recommend a second fitting in case the first fails or the light drops to the floor. Use wire or chain mental to fix the lightbulb. Rats and other pests can chew through strings.
Make sure the light source is kept out of reach for the chickens.
After the lightbulb has been installed, you can set the timer to turn the lightbulb on between 4, and 8 am.
To avoid stressing birds, artificial light should be added in the morning rather than the evening.
To ensure that your hens have consistent daylight, you must match the sunset times to your artificial lightbulb clock timer during winter.
As winter progresses, the time you leave your lightbulb on will be longer to keep it on for 14 hours per day. As February approaches, the natural daylight gets longer, and you’ll need to leave your lightbulb on for longer periods.
Every morning, make sure you test the lightbulb. Lightbulbs can fail during cold nights.
You can accidentally force your chickens to molt if your lightbulb breaks and isn’t replaced.
If you are replacing a broken lightbulb with a new one, ensure that it is the same color.
Broken lightbulbs aside, it is essential to have a backup plan in case of power outages. You should anticipate at least two power outages per winter.
As a backup, I have found that battery-powered camping lanterns work well.
See Also: Solar Heat Lamp for Chicken Coop
What is The Minimum Temperature That Hens Need to Lay Eggs?
Do Chickens Lay Eggs in The Winter? The temperature can have an impact on chicken egg production. Hens can stop laying eggs if they are exposed to cold weather. Many other factors can lead to your chickens not laying eggs.
Too Hot to Handle
Your chickens may stop laying eggs if they are exposed to extremes of cold or hot temperatures. Chickens produce more eggs when they are hot than when they are cold.
Chickens can lay eggs when the temperature outside is between 11 and 26° Celsius (or 52 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit). Below this temperature, egg production decreases. But, winter breeds that are strong and healthy can continue to lay eggs as long they have enough water and food.
Chickens need 14 hours of sunlight to lay eggs once they start laying eggs. The Northern Hemisphere’s summer solstice in May sees a decrease in light levels. This continues until the winter solstice of December.
Chicken owners often believe their hens stopped laying due to the colder temperatures rather than the lack of light. This can be fixed by providing enough artificial lighting to compensate for the lack of daylight.
How Cold is Too Cold?
Mother Earth News experts claim that chickens can withstand temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This only applies if the chickens have been accustomed to these temperatures.
Egg production will also be affected by a relative humidity greater than 75 percent. Your chickens will be more unhappy if exposed to higher temperatures than -20 degrees if you live in high humidity areas.
However, heat mats or heat lamps can be helpful if there is a sudden drop in temperature.
Cold Hardy Hens
Some chicken breeds like the Ameraucanas and Buckeyes, Chanteclers, and Australorps are known to handle freezing temperatures.
Larger birds with lighter bodies and combs are less suited to cold weather because their combs can become frostbite-prone, and their bodies cannot retain warmth.
You can use a good thermometer to check everyday:
See Also: What Should Be Inside a Chicken Coop?