Helping Chickens lay in Winter

ChloeSilkie08

Songster
Sep 10, 2020
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Arkansas
If you can rig up heating, it might be a good thing to do. Is this your first winter with that coop? Maybe just try extra shavings first....
It isn't my first winter. I think it's my third. Lol loosing track of the years now. The only problem is that my main laying flock is hitting 4 years old this spring. My other flock has a couple of layers but I mainly have silkies in that one.
 

humblehillsfarm

Crowing
Mar 27, 2020
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Southwestern Pennsylvania
Would more shaving help with that or should I just put a radiant heater in there?
Where are you located? Most folks on here are in agreement that chickens don't need supplemental heat in the winter. Of course some breeds are more winter hardy than others. My girls have survived temps down to 10 degrees without heat, but I do have some smaller, large combed breeds (leghorns) that I worried about frost bite, and added a heat lamp a couple times when nighttime temps were -5, which is very rare.

My neighbor is old school and uses a rickety old uninsulated and unventilated coop with about 40 chickens and she has never used heat, nor has she lost any to the cold that I am aware of.

Chickens molt (lose their feathers and grow new ones) to prepare for winter. After molting, their body takes a break from laying. Light triggers them to start laying again. When there are 12-14 hours of daylight, a hen will usually resume laying. Some breeds may start a little sooner than others.

A pullet hatched in the spring may start laying for the first time in the fall. I've had them start as late as November laying when they hatched in May.

A broody hen who reared a fall hatch may also start laying again. Broody hens usually molt after each hatch, although not as dramatically as a fall molt, and so she won't begin a fall molt. A broody will also go without laying for a minimum of about 7-10 weeks from the point of beginning to sit on eggs, to the end of weaning herself from her chicks.

If you want to trigger your hens to lay, light and not heat is how you do it. It is important that you give a minimum of six hours of darkness. This is the standard by the commercial poultry industry for ethically sourced eggs. It is also important that the supplemental light be given in the morning, and not the evening. If they try to go to bed at night and you flip on a light, in affects their sleep, and can also created issues with returning to the coop at night.

If you provide light and your hens start laying, you will shorten their lifespan. Statistically speaking, hens who lay more, die sooner. There are reports of hens (Google Matilda, the world's oldest chicken) who have never laid but lived to be 16.
 

ChloeSilkie08

Songster
Sep 10, 2020
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Arkansas
Where are you located? Most folks on here are in agreement that chickens don't need supplemental heat in the winter. Of course some breeds are more winter hardy than others. My girls have survived temps down to 10 degrees without heat, but I do have some smaller, large combed breeds (leghorns) that I worried about frost bite, and added a heat lamp a couple times when nighttime temps were -5, which is very rare.

My neighbor is old school and uses a rickety old uninsulated and unventilated coop with about 40 chickens and she has never used heat, nor has she lost any to the cold that I am aware of.

Chickens molt (lose their feathers and grow new ones) to prepare for winter. After molting, their body takes a break from laying. Light triggers them to start laying again. When there are 12-14 hours of daylight, a hen will usually resume laying. Some breeds may start a little sooner than others.

A pullet hatched in the spring may start laying for the first time in the fall. I've had them start as late as November laying when they hatched in May.

A broody hen who reared a fall hatch may also start laying again. Broody hens usually molt after each hatch, although not as dramatically as a fall molt, and so she won't begin a fall molt. A broody will also go without laying for a minimum of about 7-10 weeks from the point of beginning to sit on eggs, to the end of weaning herself from her chicks.

If you want to trigger your hens to lay, light and not heat is how you do it. It is important that you give a minimum of six hours of darkness. This is the standard by the commercial poultry industry for ethically sourced eggs. It is also important that the supplemental light be given in the morning, and not the evening. If they try to go to bed at night and you flip on a light, in affects their sleep, and can also created issues with returning to the coop at night.

If you provide light and your hens start laying, you will shorten their lifespan. Statistically speaking, hens who lay more, die sooner. There are reports of hens (Google Matilda, the world's oldest chicken) who have never laid but lived to be 16.
Wow! Thank you so much for all the information! I think I'll just leave them be and if I think they need the heater I will give it to them.
 

bobbi-j

Enabler
Mar 15, 2010
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On the MN prairie.
Wow! Thank you so much for all the information! I think I'll just leave them be and if I think they need the heater I will give it to them.
Unless you have some froo-froo breeds of chickens, they won’t need heat if you have them in a dry, well ventilated coop. Heat will not help them lay in the winter, it’s the light. They need 12-14 hours of light to trigger laying. Sometimes I have light in the coop, sometimes I don’t. Depends upon the year. I just use a regular light bulb on a timer, not a heat lamp. I have read that some people will string white Christmas lights in their coop. If your light is secure, it’s safe. I don’t believe an LED light would put out much heat.
 

jreardon1918

Songster
Jul 13, 2016
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Southeast, MA
My Coop
Unless you have some froo-froo breeds of chickens, they won’t need heat if you have them in a dry, well ventilated coop. Heat will not help them lay in the winter, it’s the light. They need 12-14 hours of light to trigger laying. Sometimes I have light in the coop, sometimes I don’t. Depends upon the year. I just use a regular light bulb on a timer, not a heat lamp. I have read that some people will string white Christmas lights in their coop. If your light is secure, it’s safe. I don’t believe an LED light would put out much heat.
Our Christmas lights in the run are to encourage the girls to start laying again. They provide no heat. And none is required. And It looks nice when we wake predawn.
 

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aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
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Our Christmas lights in the run are to encourage the girls to start laying again. They provide no heat. And none is required. And It looks nice when we wake predawn.
Not sure that's enough light to stimulate the pineal gland....
...but I like too see my coop lights(inside over roost) on in the dark mornings.
 

jreardon1918

Songster
Jul 13, 2016
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Southeast, MA
My Coop
Not sure that's enough light to stimulate the pineal gland....
...but I like too see my coop lights(inside over roost) on in the dark mornings.
I think it works. :fl They come out of the coop 5-15 minutes after the lights turn on. That picture is from last year. They started laying about 3 weeks after we started lighting last year. We turned the lights on about two weeks ago. We'll see. And of course I will report out findings. Not that this is very scientific.
 

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