Should great layers take a break now and then?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by mom2jedi, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. mom2jedi

    mom2jedi Songster

    Aug 12, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    For the breeds I'm considering (see sig), should I be concerned that my hens will burn out? Should I encourage them to go broody once in a while? I just read on another post that high productive layers can burn out early. Especially if they are hatchery chicks which is where I'm planning to get mine from. It never occurred to me that they naturally would need a break - DUH! As this will be my first venture into having chicks, I was liking the idea of getting my varried flock all from the same place.

    So I suppose my real question is this: how would I encourage a rest period? Since I'm in San Diego, our winters are pretty mild but the days do get shorter. Should I let the coop get dark to give them a break or only give them a little extra light?

    Our flock will be pets as well as egg producers and I would hate to cut their lives short or have reproductive problems just because we want more eggs. [​IMG]
  2. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator

    Sep 25, 2007
    Everything needs a break now and then! Yes, the shorter daylight hours will decrease laying. It's nature's way of giving them a break. They "need" 14 hours of light each day to make an egg...well, most chickens do. I've got one that lays all through winter, and when the days begin to get longer, she seems to take a break of a few weeks at that time. Also, when they molt, they will decrease or stop laying; also nature's way (IMHO) of giving them a break.
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    It's my own belief that if you don't alter their enviroment in any way, by adding wintertime light, adjusting temps., etc., then nature is going to take care of the hens getting a rest period. Sure, you may get a few less eggs but the hens will be better off.
    ETA: Before anyone can jump in to correct me, when I say adjusting temps I am referring to temps for grown hens, not newly hatched chicks which of course need the special temps.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2008
  4. mom2jedi

    mom2jedi Songster

    Aug 12, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Thanks, so if I just let the normal light we get be enough, I should be fine then. Cool, I was worried about the electrical side of it anyway.

    Does anyone have experience with production layers taking a break? I think most of the breeds we're planning on will be fine but I'm worried about the star. Most of what I've read about them (most of it here) says they are great birds. I would hate to have my nicest hen burn out just because she's been bred for production. Do they ever slow down naturally?
  5. Cuban Longtails

    Cuban Longtails Flock Mistress

    Sep 20, 2007
    Northeast Texas
    They will slow down after their first 2 or 3 years. [​IMG] Heat and moulting affects egglaying too. No worries, just let'em be chickens and they'll take care of the rest. [​IMG]
  6. mom2jedi

    mom2jedi Songster

    Aug 12, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Quote:Heat is definitely a factor here. I wouldn't mind them slowing down their egg laying because of it but I still would want them to be comfortable. There's a fine line between staying cool enough to get a break and being so cool they keep laying. Now that I've read more, I really want them to be able to rest. It's amazing how much I'm learning here!!!
  7. dacjohns

    dacjohns People Cracker Upper

    Quote:There is a lot that I don't know all the particulars about so you are getting my opinion without any research or first hand experience to back it up, just a consolidation of what I have learned over the years.

    I don't think that going broody is really giving them a rest. True, they are not laying but being broody puts a lot of stress on the bird. They eat and drink very little so the body gets worn down. I don't know that you can encourage a hen to go broody.

    They may not lay during the molt but I wouldn't really wouldn't call it a break from laying. I believe it is because energy is going into feather production instead of egg production. There is still stress on the animal because of increased energy requirements. Replacement of the feathers is necessary because the feathers offer protection and they basically wear out.

    Winter slow down of egg production is part of the natural cycle also. If chickens are like humans and only have a certain number of eggs then keeping egg production up using artificial lighting will cause egg production to end sooner. With the winter slowdown you will still get the same number of eggs, they will just be spread out over a longer period of time. What this gets me wondering about is chickens in the tropics where the light is close to 12 hours all year long. What is egg production like there.

    It looks like San Diego gets about 10 1/2 hours of daylight in the winter. Whether you want to supplement light for laying is up to you.

    Encouraging a rest period would be to let nature take its course rather than manipulating conditions to keep them laying.

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