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Reduced quality of eggs...is it a winter thing?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mommabird, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. mommabird

    mommabird Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 6, 2012
    Freeland, MD
    We have 5 white leghorns, all of which have continued to lay throughout the winter months. We don't use any artificial lighting but they do have the ability to come and go from the coop to the run as they please (it is completely enclosed) so there are mornings that they are already up, well before the sun...they soak up as much of the sun as they can it seems.

    Anyway, I had assumed that they would stop laying when the days got shorter and then for sure when the temps dropped into the teens/twenties as they have been for a few weeks now. But, they didn't. We are getting a few less eggs each week but overall there are still usually at least 3-4 eggs in the nesting box every afternoon when we collect.

    What I have noticed is that the quality of the eggs has decreased (thin shells mainly, which is causing more broken eggs in the boxes) and they seem to be smaller now. Is that a normal thing that happens during the winter?

    We don't use a heated waterer but we do replace frozen water with fresh water a couple times a day (although they seem to have fun pecking at the ice) and they always have a full feeder of Layena crumbles. I do supplement with kitchen scraps - mostly produce, occassionally carby things like slightly stale bread or the crusts off of my daughter's sandwhiches. About a month ago I did pick up some scratch and have been giving them a bit of that a couple times a week. Because of the drop in temps, I read that it was good to give them some of that to keep them busy and "fuel their furnace" - don't know if that is true or not.

    Anyway, I guess that is a really long post for a simple question - is it normal to see a decrease in egg quality during the winter months?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    It’s not unusual for a pullet to skip the molt her first fall and keep laying until she molts the following fall whether you supplement the light or not. Not all do that but a surprising number do. They will all molt and quit laying next winter. That is practically guaranteed. Toward the end of that long laying period egg quality can drop some but it should not drop this early in that cycle. During severe weather in the winter or the heat of the summer production can drop. Getting fewer eggs when the weather is extremely hot or cold is not unusual at all.

    I don’t know what is going on with yours but I suspect it has something to do with what they are eating. The thinner shells are almost certainly from a shortage of calcium in their diet. If Layer is all they eat, they should get enough calcium from that for the egg shells. But I’d suggest offering oyster shell on the side to supplement the calcium. It’s pretty inexpensive and if you offer it on the side it won’t hurt a thing.

    Egg size is another mystery. One thing that can influence egg size is the amount or protein in their diet. If you up the protein the egg size can go up a bit. I’m purely guessing here, but maybe with the shorter days they are just not eating as much so they are not eating as much protein. You might try adding more high-protein treats and eliminate some of the low-protein treats to see if that helps.

    Good luck!
     
  3. mommabird

    mommabird Out Of The Brooder

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    41
    Apr 6, 2012
    Freeland, MD
    Thanks so much for the response. I've stopped giving them the scratch as regularly and things seem to have worked themselves out. I think I was probably giving them too much which was causing them to eat less of the Layena...hence, not enough protein.
     

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