If chickens are not laying during winter, do they ever start gain.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sasnak45, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. sasnak45

    sasnak45 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have 2 white leghorns 20 months old. I haven't gotten an egg from either one in a month. If they don't begin laying soon, they might be for the pot. They are really nice looking hens, but no eggs. Has anyone ever had this problem. I know egg laying slows way down in the winter, but is this normal?
     
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    Yes this is normal.
     
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Yes, normal. No chicken can just lay everyday for years and years, nonstop. Impossible. They are past their pullet year, so they slow a bit, especially their second winter. They moult, they take a break and re-charge. With February's longer daylight hours, they will likely start up again. Chickens react to daylight hours and lay accordingly. Some folks use supplemental lighting to get them going and keep them going. It's a choice.
     
  4. sasnak45

    sasnak45 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks, these leghorns are the most flighty hens of the 20 that I am raising. I don't want any to go to the pot, but it is costly to continue to feed and nurture the ones that are not laying. When they do lay eggs, they are really big and oval shaped. I hope they start again soon.

    Since this is only my second year raising chickens, a question. How long do they lay generally? Do you eventually cull all your hens and start over? I have all the hens and one rooster I ordered from the hatchery last spring, and I would like to order more this spring, but it is hard for me to use any of them for meat.
     
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    These questions are flock management decisions that only you can make, based on your desires, needs, goals, finances, etc.

    A modern bred layer has been the focus of the poultry science's efforts to provide the very best layer to the commercial egg industry. Most of the birds sold by hatcheries as layers are the result of this research. These birds mature quickly, convert feed well, lay up a storm. The down side is that these strains are "flipped" in the commercial world at either at first moult, or at the end of the second laying season. Birds are virtually never kept for more than 2 laying seasons.

    Your choice is to mimic the commercial industry and replace these birds every 2.5 years or go with the reduced production of their older years. Again, this is a choice and a decision you must make.
     
  6. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    Fred's Hens is right, these are personal decisions. I can only tell you how we do it and let you make your own decision.

    We always have some commercial Leghorns, so this will be relevant to your breed.

    We allow our hens to moult hard in the fall, with no supplemental light until late November. Then we trick them into thinking it's spring by adding a 100 watt light bulb on a timer to come on at 4am and go off at 8am. You want to get them up to 14 hours of light, and you want to add the light in the morning. We don't have nearly as good luck with lights if they're on in the evening. This kicks their laying into high gear. Before we added light, we were getting 3(!) eggs a day from 50+ hens. Currently, we are getting 41-48 eggs a day with those same 50 hens.

    We keep hens three years. After three years, we find that they are laying fewer but much larger eggs, and as those eggs are too big to fit in the cartons, we can't sell them. We also see a lot more meat and blood spots in the eggs, and our customers don't like that. So we always have a cohort of new pullets in the spring, and we rotate out a three year old cohort in the fall just as the spring pullets begin to lay. We put our hens on Craigslist, and usually get $5-$10 per hen. I have a group of Red Sex Links right now that are laying super Jumbo eggs (30 a week all told) and I can't sell them and can't donate them and we can't eat them all either, so I might be selling those ladies this winter. We don't just want any old egg, we want saleable eggs.

    We have three roosters, and we do keep some older hens for breeding purposes if they lay particularly well or have a particularly lovely colored egg or I just really like the bird for some reason.

    Now, we are set up for egg production, not pet birds, or heritage bird preservation, etc. If you want to keep your birds for their natural lives, you may want to skip the supplemental light and let them take the winter off. I would never do that, 1. because I'm not sure I believe that the hen will burn out that soon, 2. because a hen has many more eggs in her body than she can ever lay, whether she takes the winter off or not, and 3. (most important) I feed those chickens in return for eggs. My cost-per-egg gets really ugly if I am feeding them for extended periods with no eggs in return. Chickens on our place that don't lay don't stay around long.

    Hope this helps. It's just one philosophy. I'm sure you'll hear others. [​IMG]
     

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