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Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by SandJmom, Oct 23, 2012.
Someone told me that hens will not lay eggs in the winter. That seemed absurd to me. Is this true?
Some truth, some confusion.
First year pullets will lay very well their first winter, even without supplemental lighting. However, older hens typically moult in the fall of the second year and do indeed stop laying for weeks. They'll rest and re-charge their bodies for the following lighter days of spring. Without artificial lighting? Many older birds will indeed lay little to nothing from November through February. This is natural for them.
Chickens, especially hatchery bred birds, are much more inclined to be better layers than many chickens of 100 years ago. Back then, the statement was much more likely to be valid. Folks did not look for much, by way of eggs, until mid to late February when the days grew longer and brighter.
Yes and no. Laying slows way down in the winter for a couple of reasons. First is that the shorter days tell their body to slow down on laying. Second is that starting in their second fall, hens go into a molt. Growing feathers is a highly intensive process and while their body is focused on growing in the new feathers (about 6-8 weeks), they have no reserves left over to produce eggs. So, you will find that laying slows down considerably in the winter.
That said, I have never been without eggs entirely. Pullets in their first season of laying will often lay right through the winter since they don't need to molt until the following Fall. I add new spring chicks every year - that way I always have some pullets who are laying while the older hens are molting.
Haha - I started my reply while Fred's Hens was writing his I guess, and didn't see his response until after I'd posted mine. I'm glad we're in agreement....
Oh okay. Now mine are not yet old enough to lay. I'm thinking a couple of more months, they will be old enough. So, when she told me that, I was thinking I wouldn't get eggs for six months now. So, since their age to start laying will be right in the middle of the winter, do you think we may get any at all this winter?
Yes, they will still lay for you this winter.
Yes! I got my first group of chicks in mid-July, and got the first egg the day after Christmas. I always thought it a shame she didn't lay that first egg just one day sooner....
I offer all of my layers (ducks and chickens) a 25 watt light every night once the light drops below 12 hours a day. They need that much light to produce well, after the initial laying (pullet age) period. This will keep even 2 year old laying pretty well, if they are good layers to begin with. They will stop laying pretty much when they moult, regardless of light. As they age, they lay fewer but larger eggs, but by age 3, they won't lay much.