What breeds lay during winter with NO additional light source?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by IdahoPrepper, Dec 6, 2016.

  1. IdahoPrepper

    IdahoPrepper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2015
    When we first started with chickens(black sex-links, red sex-links, barred rocks) we got 1yr old "used" chickens off craigs, it was a sweet-n-sour experience. The chickens laid all winter and gave us a ton of eggs without artificial light. The bad was they came with leg mites and we never could get rid of them despite 9 months and 200 dollars in supplies. We finally gave the birds away for soup chickens and sprayed the coop leaving it open all winter to freeze.

    Next spring we bought fresh chicks from our local farm store (red sex-links, sussix, RiR). The new chicks laid eggs during the winter the first year. This year they molted and shutdown. No eggs, well maybe 1 or 2 in a month. They also saw one of thier partners get taken down and eaten by a hawk right in their own yard. Now they sit in the coop all day and dash out at first light and last light to eat and drink in a hurry. Then rush back into the coop. They refuse to come outside. Its been 5 weeks now.

    We are hobby farmers and dont have a lot of money. If I have to buy eggs I cannot afford to also buy expensive organic-non-gmo feed for the hungry chickens. They are getting close to becoming soup chickens and I will start over in the spring. The birds are 1.75yrs old now. So close to the 2 year mark when things start slowing down.

    Are there any birds that will just keep laying all winter? I know I may e asking too much. We survive off this food so I need my animals to produce. We are off grid and dont have extra power for lights.

    This years harvest:
    2 500lb pigs
    2 turkeys 50-60 lbs
    12 meat chickens (11 the dog ate one)
    A ton of eggs
    (no elk this year)
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
  2. IdyllwildAcres

    IdyllwildAcres Overrun With Chickens

    Hmm, maybe you should plan some new girls each Spring and cull 2 year olds in the fall, keep a rotation so you always have winter layers?

    IDK, I am new here [​IMG]

    Gary from Idyllwild Ca here
  3. 1plus1makes5

    1plus1makes5 Just Hatched

    Apr 5, 2016
    That's what we do and we always have eggs in winter.
  4. First year laying Pullets always lay all winter......The next year they Moult so laying stops......Birds Moult at 18 months old.........No EGGS......They then start laying again two months after moult.......Make sense?

  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    First year pullets don't always lay all winter. Lots of factors can come into play, for example: hours of daylight when pullet reaches sexual maturity. Lattitude of the flock.
    1 person likes this.
  6. Pullets in my area do...........Thanks though........

  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Short answer is ...no.

    Gary got it right...new chicks every year as early as possible so you have winter layers.
    Slaughter the older ones as soon as the youngers start to lay...but they'll probably be molting, not fun to pluck a molting chicken.
    High production hybrid breeds are more likely to lay all thru their first winter, not all pullets will.

    Wonders... why you didn't eat those birds you gave "away for soup chickens"?
    Wonders ...what is the protein percentage in that "expensive organic-non-gmo feed"?

    Also wonders what you spent $200 on to treat leg mites that did not work?
    They are pretty easy to get rid of by suffocating them,
    with about any kind of oil or petroleum jelly based product spread on the legs up into the raised scales.
    It does take several applications and time(months) for scales to completely shed and regrow.
    1 person likes this.
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    There is no breed that will lay year round, year after year, with no break.

    Most production bred birds will lay through their first winter, and then next year. At the 18-ish month mark, they molt and take a break. Some birds can be lit back into production after a molt, some can't.


    plan new chicks each spring, so you have fresh layers for the next laying cycle. Age out 18 month old birds each fall.

    plan new chicks each spring. Carry over older layers, feeding them as non producers over the winter. Sounds like you'll want to make a different feed choice at that point if the birds aren't producing, but that's a personal decision.

    Maybe research solar powered lights for the coop? If you want to try to carry over older birds through a winter.

    Myself, if a hen is a decent layer, I'd rather feed her resting self over the winter than invest in a chick to replace her that first break. She's on break less time than the chicks would take to reach point of lay, and her second laying cycle is usually just as strong as the first. Maybe a touch fewer eggs, but they seem to be larger overall in most cases.

    Not really something we can tell you what to do, just toss out options for you to decide what's going to work best for your situation.

    I will say you're on the right track, breed wise. Picking production breeds is the way to go for what you're wanting....my only caution is the Sussex. Not sure what color/variety, but my (admittedly limited) experience with the speckled is they're not going to pull their own weight, egg wise. Meh layers of medium sized eggs. they do add some size and heft to the next generation if you're looking at hatching out future meals, though.
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    That's a very good point.......either feed a growing chick for ~6 months until POL or feed an older birds for 2-4 months.
    There will always be 'eggless' times.
  10. tcobbs

    tcobbs Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 16, 2016
    My plan is to buy 6 pullets every 3 months for the first 18mo. That way they will be molting at different times and hoping I get a couple broodys in each set. I suck at hatching in an incubator...

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