Can they start laying in fall/winter?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chickenlover09, Nov 26, 2014.

  1. chickenlover09

    chickenlover09 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi all, i'm in a rush so sorry if this sounds, well rushed.

    Well, I went to a feed store where I originally got my chicks a few days ago, and asked the lady there when she thinks they'll start laying (they are laying breeds, and they are already between 5-6 months old. I also have two silkies that are about 7 months old). She told me that they wouldn't start laying until springtime, because they were born in spring.

    I live in CA, so the weather is always warm, and very sunny (their coop is located in a light spot, and they are running around about 5 hours a day or more, where they love sleeping in the sun). I was shocked at this statement she said, but I wanted to see if she was correct. I always thought hens only needed light and calcium to lay eggs, I didn't know it had anything to do with the season.


    And should I switch them to layer pellets when I see the first egg? Or should I switch them to layer pellets before I see the first egg?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated! :)
     
  2. TaraBellaBirds

    TaraBellaBirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sometimes a pullet that is of age won't lay until Spring, but this is not always the case. Most of the pullets that I have had that are hatched in the Summer start laying in the winter just fine. Watch for combs reddening, squatting, and interest in the laying boxes, these are signs that they are getting close to lay. If you can post a picture of them we can tell you if they are close by the comb (although it is impossible to tell exactly when!). If they are close to lay, which it sounds as if they are, it won't hurt to switch them to a layer feed. I would use up what you have first, and offer crushed oyster shells on the side. That will be another sign they are close, a pullet won't touch oyster shells until they need it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    The not laying could be because of the short days/long nights.
    Sometimes first year layers will lay all winter without supplemental lighting, sometimes they won't.
    Older layers need 14-16 hours of light to lay regularly thru winter. Last winter I used a 40 watt incandescent light(this year I am using a CFL) that comes on early in the morning to provide 14-15 hours of light and they go to roost with the natural sundown. Last year I started the lighting increase a bit late(mid October), the light should be increased slowly, and the pullets didn't start laying until late December. Here's a pretty good article on supplemental lighting. Some folks think that using lighting shortens the years a hen will lay, I don't agree with that theory but I also plan to cull my older hens for soup at about 3 years old.


    I like to feed an 'all flock' 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat and have calcium available at all times for the layers, oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.
    The higher protein crumble offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer.
     
  4. chickenlover09

    chickenlover09 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay thanks.

    I'm currently feeding them an "all purpose mash". I don't have any roosters (and can't), but I may add a few younger birds to the flock ones these girls start laying.


    I'll try to attach a picture of my chickens.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    What is the protein and calcium levels of the 'all purpose mash'?
     
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Not supplementing calcium won't keep a bird from laying. It may make for softer shells, but lack of calcium won't effect egg production itself. Plus, a new layer has a nice store of calcium in her body already and can do fine for a while without supplementing. Layer feed isn't magical at all. I feed an all-in-one, similar to All Flock, and just offer egg shells and oyster shell on the side.

    My experience with production birds is they'll start laying around 6 months, regardless. My birds this year are the first time that's not happened, but I have some less production-based breeds (barred Hollands, mostly). They then lay until the next fall, when they molt and take the winter off (I don't supplement light). Not everyone's experiece, but it's been pretty steady for me. In fact, this pretty lady

    [​IMG]
    laid her very first egg for me on the winter Solstice last year!
     
  7. chicksurreal

    chicksurreal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What a beauty!
     

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