Heat/light egg laying

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by rollo4, Nov 29, 2013.

  1. rollo4

    rollo4 Out Of The Brooder

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    I've been informed that hens don't lay much during the winter. I don't live in a cold climate (San Francisco bay area) so heat isn't as serious an issue as cold/snow areas. However, I do miss a (somewhat) steady flow of eggs (I have only 3 hens).
    What can I do that to my coop/roosting area that might encourage them to lay?
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    Temperature in most climates has little to do with egg laying. Day length is the primary operative.

    One must choose whether it is more important for their hens to lay without a break or to molt, rest their reproductive system and lay for many years or to force them to kick out all the eggs at once.
    They aren't egg machines but chickens that lay eggs. We can manipulate their systems with light and feed but every benefit comes with a cost.

    I understand that when one makes a labor and financial commitment to do this thing and only has 3 hens that it is disappointing when we don't get breakfast.
    That said, planning ahead and even perhaps hoarding eggs for fall/winter - healthy birds usually lay like gangbusters in spring and summer - sometimes for many years.
     
  3. rollo4

    rollo4 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the upfront and honest response.
    I have plenty of other foods to choose from for breakfast.
    When I embarked on the journey I probably was overly enthusiastic about getting one egg per day per chicken or 21/week. I thought I could share with my family those that I could not eat because of an over abundance. Wrong! Sometimes I'm lucking if I get one egg per day. My family and friends think I spoil them with good table scraps in addition to the chicken feed I give them. So stockpiling is not an option when you have lazy hens.
    Any suggestions in that department?
    Thanks,
    Rollo
     
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    What I expect for egg laying out of ordinary chickens during peak egg laying season (summer) is about 1-2 eggs less than the count of layers, up to ten birds, after that it can be about 3-4 eggs less than the count of layers. So yours are about average.

    Pullets generally lay, once they start to lay all through the winter, but anything older than 1 year, will be sharply effected by the day length. I am myself, waiting for the pullets to kick in, and they are slow this winter, so I am feeding 6 and getting nada as I write.

    So, you can add new birds each year, to get through the doldrums of winter, or add some light to extend the daylight hours..... or you can do without.

    Mrs K
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Supplemental light does not shorten the years a chicken can lay, they don't use up all their eggs sooner if they lay thru the winters, they are born with way more ova than they could possibly turn in breakfast throughout their lives.
    14-16 hours of light a day thru winter will keep egg production up, older hens will still slow down when molting tho.

    Good article by avian vet on supplemental light.
     
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    Theoretically, you're correct. By the same token, theoretically, given the optimal light, optimal nutrition and unstressed a bird will go through those ova in their lifetime.
    There seems to be conflicting information on this. I've seen studies have shown that an 18-week old POL pullet has less than 1,000 ova. They can't make more nor can females of any species I'm aware of.
    Would it make sense that a jungle fowl that produce in the neighborhood of 60 eggs a year and a life expectancy of from 10 to 20 years to be born with hundreds of thousands of ova?
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Do you have a link to a cited study? Would love to read it.
     
  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    Well I did more research and found conflicting information. So I stand corrected. I just read something from the University of Kentucky that says the ovary is made up of 13,000-14,000 ova. I still haven't seen the actual studies.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Conflicting info is not hard to come by, that's for sure.
    With all the reading I've done I most often saw the hundreds of thousands of ova numbers cited rather than the thousands.
    I link that article because I thought it was pretty clear and the easiest for layfolk to read....tho I still wonder how the supplemental light might effect molting.
     
  10. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Overrun With Chickens

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    As far as light keeping them from molting and "resting" I have never found that to be the case in 20 years. They always molt on their own schedule, with some molting & some laying at any given time even with the light.
     

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