What's the best way to keep hens laying during cold months

L.J. Hitchcock

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Oct 14, 2018
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I have 2 golden comets and 2 road island reds. Was getting 4-5 eggs a day. Now I'm only getting 1-2 a day. I know it's mainly because the temperature change here in Ohio. Curious on ways to keep them laying like normal during the cold months
 

Pyxis

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Egg laying has nothing to do with the temperature, but rather the amount of light they're getting. If you want them to keep laying, set up a light in their coop on a timer to make sure they're getting about 14 hours of light a day.

They also don't lay when they're molting, so that also could be why they've stopped, as this is also the time of year that chickens molt.

Keep in mind that by forcing them to lay through the cold months you're not actually getting more eggs. A hen has a finite amount of eggs. Adding light just makes them keep laying instead of getting break, so they go through their supply of eggs faster and stop laying altogether sooner.
 

hillbilly91

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Egg laying has nothing to do with the temperature, but rather the amount of light they're getting. If you want them to keep laying, set up a light in their coop on a timer to make sure they're getting about 14 hours of light a day.

They also don't lay when they're molting, so that also could be why they've stopped, as this is also the time of year that chickens molt.

Keep in mind that by forcing them to lay through the cold months you're not actually getting more eggs. A hen has a finite amount of eggs. Adding light just makes them keep laying instead of getting break, so they go through their supply of eggs faster and stop laying altogether sooner.
That sums it up in my opinion. Couldn't have said it better. :goodpost:
 

chickengeorgeII

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Oct 15, 2018
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Most of the commercial eggs produced today in the USA are produced in the Northern states mainly because of the cooler temps. While most meat chickens come from the warmer Southern states. Why is that?

I agree with the view that your hens don't lay enough because their penial gland is getting insufficient Sunlight to stimulate egg laying.

https://animals.mom.me/effects-sunlight-laying-hens-1392.html

Chickens can and do produce body heat that the whole flock shares.
 

aart

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You can put a a heat lamp in the coop to increase heat and light.
They don't need heat and the red light will not stimulate the pineal gland.

Keep in mind that by forcing them to lay through the cold months you're not actually getting more eggs. A hen has a finite amount of eggs. Adding light just makes them keep laying instead of getting break, so they go through their supply of eggs faster and stop laying altogether sooner.
They are born with thousands more eggs than they would ever lay,
but,
constant laying without a break can be detrimental to overall health and that's what can shorten their laying life...or their life.

I have 2 golden comets and 2 road island reds. Was getting 4-5 eggs a day. Now I'm only getting 1-2 a day. I know it's mainly because the temperature change here in Ohio. Curious on ways to keep them laying like normal during the cold months
It is 'normal' for them to stop laying when the days shorten.

How old are your birds?
Pullets (chickens under a year old) will sometimes lay thru winter without supplemental lighting.....older birds will stop laying and molt.

Here's a pretty good article on supplemental lighting.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

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I find feeding a higher protein ration will help to optimize laying. I recommend 18-20%. Cold, especially sudden drops in temperatures can cause a halt in laying because it's a stressor. Birds require more calories in winter too. They will stay warm first, and produce eggs secondly.
I don't think adding heat helps that though, but I've never heated. I do have hens that lay through winter at a decreased rate. I believe I see more now on an 18% ration as opposed to a 16% of the layer I used to feed.

Laying is dictated by light and whether it's increasing or decreasing. You can add extra lighting to mimic the increase in production you see in spring. I believe by doing so you will eliminate the normal surge that is seen in early spring and you don't really end up ahead. Improper lighting can cause things like out of season molts. I personally have never done extra lights, so I don't know from experience.

And as mentioned the older the hens the less they lay. You can't really change that either.
 

aart

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I believe by doing so you will eliminate the normal surge that is seen in early spring and you don't really end up ahead. Improper lighting can cause things like out of season molts.
I've seen both of these scenarios...first year I used lighting, had birds molting in spring.
 

chickengeorgeII

In the Brooder
Oct 15, 2018
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Improper feeding and watering will bring on a "FORCED" molt at any time of the year.

It is not necessary to completely withdraw food or water from your flock to effect a forced molt. It can be done by a novice chicken keeper if he or she feeds a ration low in certain necessary minerals or vitamins. This is one very good reason for the backyard chicken keeper to cut back on, or even avoid feeding so called "treats"

There is a small increase in flock mortality during a forced molt. This mortality is usually between 1/2 to one percent. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your point of view the most unhealthy or disadvantaged birds are the ones most likely to die. On the other hand you can slaughter all of your older hens and replace them with POL pullets. Any way you look at it you have to break a few eggs to make a frittata.

The physical act of molting rejuvenates a hens' reproductive organs and either with or without your help she sets out on a new round of egg laying.
 

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