How much down time should a chicken have during the winter?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Luv4chickens17, Mar 15, 2017.

  1. Luv4chickens17

    Luv4chickens17 In the Brooder

    Mar 14, 2017
    Hi all,

    I live in the Pacific NW where we have very long winters full of lots of rain and very dark grey skies. My new flock will be starting to lay around late August but our winter will probably be starting around October. I know chickens need down time to allow their body to rest after laying eggs but does anyone have a recommendation as to how much down time?
    I'd like to put my ladies under lights for part of the winter since it stays pretty dark and grey from October-April.That's a good part of the year. Any other Pacific NW chicken owners have any insight as to what they do?

    Thanks for your advice!
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    They are all individuals and need as much time as they take.
    When pullets of most breeds start to lay in August, they usually lay right through the first winter without a break.
    However, since they will be at POL as days are getting shorter, there is no guarantee when they'll start.
    If you don't get eggs by 24 weeks and you are already inclined to do so, add 2 to 4 hours of light to their coop. It is best to turn it on before dawn rather than after dusk.
    The following autumn and each subsequent one, they'll molt and take a break from laying. After fully recovered from molt, they may begin laying again or they'll wait till after the winter solstice as days lengthen to start up again.
    As I said, they're individuals and unless you have a strict lighting program like egg farms do, there is no predicting how long the winter break will last.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2017
  3. Chickenmanjim7

    Chickenmanjim7 Chirping

    Sep 16, 2015
    Aberdeen, Washington
    most of my chickens lay unless they are molting. Then they take a month or two. Occasionally a week off here or there. It really is the individual bird.
  4. Luv4chickens17

    Luv4chickens17 In the Brooder

    Mar 14, 2017
    Great, thank you!
  5. maryann momhen

    maryann momhen Chirping

    Jun 24, 2014
    new jersey
    My two 3 year old barred rock hens stopped laying from November when they started molting and they just started back up again a few weeks ago. I must say this was the longest they didn't lay and I was starting to worry. But now I'm getting at least 8 a week from the two of them. I'm still hoping it gets better. Naturally their first year they layed straight through with hardly any break at all, and last winter I think they took 2 months off, but this year it was nearly 4 months. We got 4 pullets last spring so we had nearly 4 eggs every day from the new girls, so they helped us to wait patiently for a 6 egg day. But most days it's 5 eggs. Hopefully come spring well start getting 6.

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