Topic of the Week - Winter Egg Laying

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sumi, Dec 18, 2016.

  1. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Winter is a time of the year when eggs are in short supply for many of us, though some troopers, like two of my hens, are laying like it's Spring still. Many find though that their hens slow down or stop laying completely, when the days get too short. And the eggs that do make it down the tubes are sometimes frozen before we get a chance to collect them! This week I'd like to hear from you all about winter egg laying and egg dilemmas. Specifically...

    - Do or don't you supplement light to keep your hens in production over winter?
    - Are there other ways to ensure your flock stays productive, for example by replenishing the layers with young hens yearly?
    - What do you do to prevent the eggs from freezing in the nest boxes, especially the folks that can't collect them in a timely manner.
    - Tips for keeping winter layers happy and healthy?




    For a complete list of our Topic of the Week threads, see here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/topic-of-the-week-thread-archive
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2017
  2. chuckachucka

    chuckachucka Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My pullets born this summer haven't started laying yet, but I have one older hen who has just started laying again this week after mothering through the autumn, which surprised me because I didn't expect her to start laying again until early spring. She is an aseel breed, which are known to be poor layers, and I don't add light in the coop. It gets light here at around 9am and dark by 4pm and I think she has actually been laying the eggs in the early evening in the dark. On the other hand it has been quite mild weather this past couple of weeks after more severe cold in November, so maybe that has helped? It rarely goes below freezing here anyway so I'm not really worried about frozen eggs. I've been feeding the girls layer pellets with mealworms as treats for extra protein and they have a few hours a day to roam and eat the grass. They seem happy and healthy enough.
     
  3. jtn42248

    jtn42248 Overrun With Chickens

    All of my older hens have stopped laying completely. We do get one egg each day, light brown, so probably one of the Rocks or Wyandottes. That is the 19 older hens. We also have 15 young pullets that have not started laying yet. They are red sex links and EE's so I do expect them to start in another week or so if the weather improves a bit. We do not supplement light but we do adjust feed to higher protein and things like corn and oats added for warmth.
     
  4. MasterOfClucker

    MasterOfClucker Chillin' With My Peeps

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  5. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Supplement light? Yes

    Rotate out 2 and 3 year birds for pullets each year? Yes

    Winter eggs and freezing? Yes some do but not often. I only toss the eggs that froze solid and broke open from expansion. All others go to egg skelter on counter.

    Happy birds in winter? Biggest thing is not to heat coops so they go outside. We provide wind shelter and a small 10x10 roofed area for them to hang out in for cold days and rest of winter they walk the shoveled path through the snow to their favorite shrub that has hay put under it. The outside shelter also has a wood ash in basin dust bath.
     
    2 people like this.
  6. BantyChooks

    BantyChooks Frozen Premium Member Project Manager

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    - Do or don't you supplement light to keep your hens in production over winter?
    No, I don't. It lets them have a break whilst keeping my electricity bill lowered.

    - Are there other ways to ensure your flock stays productive, for example by replenishing the layers with young hens yearly?
    I suppose you could replace them yearly, though that seems terribly cost inefficient. The 6 months it takes for them to start laying is spent consuming feed... When compared to a month or so break in laying, it really seems counterproductive. I do replace the layers every three years though....

    - What do you do to prevent the eggs from freezing in the nest boxes, especially the folks that can't collect them in a timely manner.
    I'm fortunate enough that I can collect often throughout the day, so I don't do anything else.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    - Do or don't you supplement light to keep your hens in production over winter?

    Normally, no. But this year I had three new pullets that are at point of lay just as the shortest days of the year arrived, and I and my egg customers are anxious for those eggs. I installed a length of rope lights in their coop and two of the three are now beginning to lay.

    - Are there other ways to ensure your flock stays productive, for example by replenishing the layers with young hens yearly?

    I do add chicks every other spring, as a matter of practice. But I allow my "retired" old girls to live out their lives without being culled.


    - What do you do to prevent the eggs from freezing in the nest boxes, especially the folks that can't collect them in a timely manner.

    I am around full time so I pick up my eggs soon after they're laid. But a solution to eggs freezing for those who are away all day, would be to install a heating pad under the nesting material and leave it on. I use a heating pad in this fashion to stimulate layers that are having a hard time passing an egg, and they do really enjoy a heated nest box, let me assure you.


    - Tips for keeping winter layers happy and healthy?

    I feed fermented feed to my flock. It's kept them healthy and laying well into their sunset years.
     
  8. FlyWheel

    FlyWheel Chillin' With My Peeps

    @MasterOfClucker: Your chickens have a radio? What do you play them?

    Bluegrass, perhaps...
    [​IMG]

    Or maybe Classical?
    [​IMG]


    Or are they into electronic music..?
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    - Do or don't you supplement light to keep your hens in production over winter? I use supplemental light, but not according to the normal protocol. I let my flock go w/o light until they stop laying. They take a 6 - 8 week or longer break. When I'm getting low on eggs, I give them a light, and ramp it up 1/2 - 1 hour/week to get them laying about 6 - 8 weeks sooner than they otherwise would. It's on a timer, on at 6:30 AM, ramping up to 8:30 PM. And, no, they've never been caught on the floor of the coop when lights go out. Always have been up on the perch. They just seem to know. This year, I gave them a solar night light (one of those 99 cent solar landscaping lights), placing the solar panel in close proximity to the 9 LED bulb, so that it gets charged daily. That is working good, and I'm hoping that the night light is not a distraction to their beauty sleep.

    - Are there other ways to ensure your flock stays productive, for example by replenishing the layers with young hens yearly? I love to hatch chicks, so do so every spring. I usually sell my older layers, and have always had ready customers to take them. My laying flock is anywhere from 16W to 3 y.o. Choose breeds that are known for winter laying. Though they don't have a reputation for that, my best winter layer was an EE, who laid 3 eggs/week through her first winter.

    - What do you do to prevent the eggs from freezing in the nest boxes, especially the folks that can't collect them in a timely manner. I work per-diem, short days, so frozen eggs are a rarity for me, even when we have weeks on end of below 0*F weather. It's helpful to have lots of hay in the nest boxes, line them with cardboard. Also, design is important, the "side car" style nest boxes are more prone to freezing. My flock almost always all lay in the same nest. So that helps as later entries keep the earlier eggs from freezing.

    - Tips for keeping winter layers happy and healthy? My flock gets FF. Also get sprouts frequently through the winter. Have a "sun room". On decent days they are fed outside, and have scratch tossed in the DL to encourage them to get outside. Lots of ventilation in the coop. Hay bale mountain in the coop, lots of natural lighting, plenty of room.
     
  10. MasterOfClucker

    MasterOfClucker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Classical.They love it
     

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