My main question: Does egg production dramatically decrease in winter even WITH supplemental lighting?
I'm a first time flock owner of 13 laying hens which include golden comets, easter eggers, barred rocks, black australorps and a welsummer. They were born on 2/9/15 and have been laying like champions since they started laying in June of this year. Throughout the summer we were averaging 10-12 eggs a day. A low production day was considered 7-8 eggs and that happened maybe once a week at the most.
We added supplemental lighting to our 8x10 coop and 8x12 adjoining fenced run about 8 weeks ago and egg production remained high. This supplemental lighting comes on at 3am and goes off about an hour after sunrise. Sunset is around 5:30 pm so this provides the hens 14 hours of daylight.
About 2 weeks ago we had a STEEP drop in egg production resulting in only 4-6 eggs per day. I know reduced light in the winter causes a decrease in production, but I thought adding the supplemental light would head this off. Given the age of the hens, I don't believe this could be the start of molting. The drop in production does coincides with our weather turning cold enough for coat and gloves (high 20's at night, 40's during the day) but I didn't think weather had an effect, only the decreased hours of light that accompany winter. Does anyone know what else could be causing the drop off in production? I sell egg subscriptions and I am going to have to refund customers' money since this reduced level of egg production is too low to provide my promised quota of eggs.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience with a newbie. Tricia