Molting, Lose egg production every year for months?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by robbiebobbie, Oct 9, 2016.

  1. robbiebobbie

    robbiebobbie Out Of The Brooder

    52
    1
    31
    Sep 6, 2014
    I thought chickens layed eggs all the time. I never knew they would stop laying eggs for months every year. How does one keep customers if this happens every year? Not sure if I want to sell eggs anymore. What can one do?
     
  2. trudyg

    trudyg Chillin' With My Peeps

    337
    31
    119
    Jun 3, 2013
    If you have enough birds who are not molting at the same time and have sufficient light, you can get a fairly steady supply of eggs. They don't molt, except minor juvenile molts, until they're a year old. So, try to have hens of different ages and plan to provide supplemental lighting. I only have 5 hens and molting + lack of daylight has reduced us to 1-2 eggs/day, where in the height of summer we got 5 a day.
     
  3. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    20,341
    3,441
    401
    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    This is why people tend to sell older birds and they buy and raise a few pullets every spring. This way, they have a steady supply of eggs year round. Younger birds don't molt their first winter, and they usually continue to lay despite the shorter days.
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

    15,961
    3,555
    436
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Chickens aren't machines. We have bred them to lay more eggs than nature ever intended, but in the end they still need down time and need to put energy into staying alive and healthy. A molt gives a chicken a rest, and allows her to rebuild her reserves.

    If you want to have a continuous supply of eggs you need to raise replacements, and have them start to lay as older hens are quitting, and get rid of hens after their second season just as large producers do.
     
  5. robbiebobbie

    robbiebobbie Out Of The Brooder

    52
    1
    31
    Sep 6, 2014
    Once all birds are all a year and older, do they all molt at the same time?
     
  6. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    20,341
    3,441
    401
    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    They aren't machines. Most will molt in late summer and early fall. Some won't molt until the middle of winter. Some molt in the spring. Just like they don't all start laying at the exact same time.
     
  7. robbiebobbie

    robbiebobbie Out Of The Brooder

    52
    1
    31
    Sep 6, 2014
    I know they aren't machines. Just asking a question about chickens.
     
  8. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

    15,961
    3,555
    436
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Most of my birds that are over a year of age will start molting in the end of August and go to about December. Poor layers usually molt first, with better layers waiting longer. Keeping up the protein in their feed or switching to something higher in protein during the molt can hasten it.
     
  9. robbiebobbie

    robbiebobbie Out Of The Brooder

    52
    1
    31
    Sep 6, 2014
    ok, thank you
     
  10. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,522
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    My birds tend to follow this cycle....

    I get chicks in spring 16. Those chicks start laying in fall 16. They lay all that first winter, straight through until fall of 17. At that time, they molt and take a break. Some high production bred birds start laying again a bit, but most take the winter off. They start laying again in spring 18, laying say 1-2 fewer eggs a week. Fall of 18, they'll again molt and take the winter off. That cycle then repeats each year, with a slight drop in production each year. I've had hatchery birds still laying a few eggs a week at 7-8 years old, but I don't keep most that long.

    You can research supplemental lighting, to try to boost production during the winter. They'll still molt and take a break, but lighting will bring them back to lay sooner.


    This is a good reason to get new chicks every spring [​IMG]. That way, the new chicks are coming into point of lay when the older hens are hitting molt. The new girls take up the slack.

    It's up to you if you want to feed the non-producing birds over the winter or not. Lots of folks sell off birds around the 18 month mark. You just need to balance the cost of feeding a hen over the winter, vs feeding a pullet chick to point of lay.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by