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When to expect eggs or if at all in winter?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by billdane, Nov 13, 2015.

  1. billdane

    billdane Out Of The Brooder

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    Hey guys I'm new to all this and not sure if my question went through. I have 24 and 16 week old chickens that are not laying yet. It is starting to get colder here in Alabama and just trying to figure out if I am going to get any at all or should just wait till spring. I have them on grower feed bc of the younger ones with calcium on the side free of choice.
    Thanks
    Billy
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    How do the older birds' combs and wattles look. If they are growing and turning red you may be close.
    You can also check the space between the pelvic bones. If it is 2 fingers width or more, laying is imminent.
    The only reason winter has anything to do with it is the length of day. Once lay commences, it will continue regardless of temperature unless well below zero causes stress.

    I wrote the following in another thread that explains the science behind light and egg laying.

    Light exposure to the retina is first relayed to the nucleus of the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that coordinates biological clock signals. Fibers from there descend to the spinal cord and ultimately project to the superior cervical ganglia, from which neurons ascend back to the pineal gland. The pineal gland translates signals from the nervous system into a hormonal signal.
    The gland produces serotonin and subsequently melatonin, a hormone that affects the gonads for sperm production in males and ovulation in females. An increase in melatonin causes the gonads to become inactive. Since photoperiod in relation to day vs. night is the most important clue for animals to determine season. As it lengthens, the gonads are rejuvenated. The duration of melatonin secretion each day is directly proportional to the length of the night because of the pineal gland's ability to measure daylength. Besides reproduction, it also affects sleep timing and blood pressure regulation.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  3. billdane

    billdane Out Of The Brooder

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    I can post a picture when I get home this afternoon but the older hens that are 24 weeks have a red comb and wattle. Just wasn't sure if it was normal for them to be this old and not laying or if the winter would keep them from laying at all till spring. Thanks for the reply!
     
  4. junebuggena

    junebuggena Overrun With Chickens

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    Pullets that mature in the fall can take a bit longer to start laying, but they will start laying eventually. 24 weeks is still within the normal range for most breeds.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    You are feeding them correctly.

    I could go into some of the science but that’s only theory. You’ll find that in practice about anything can happen. Different chickens react to different stimuli. Actual length of day is relatively unimportant for the majority but it does affect some. The biggest effect is whether the days are getting longer or shorter, but again many ignore that. They will lay when they are ready, but adding light to increase day length can really kick start them. That’s where science can really help. Adding lights works the majority of the time.

    I’ve had pullets hatched in March start to lay in July at 16 weeks. Many of those laid throughout the first fall/winter without stopping to molt. I’ve had some stop laying to molt that started laying later than that in the year. Normally if my pullets start laying in late summer or fall, they skip the molt their first winter and keep laying until they molt the following fall. But I have an 18 week old pullet that has never laid an egg that is obviously going through a full blown molt right now. Chickens are just not consistent.

    You are talking about pullets and this time of year. Since you are kind enough to add your location in your profile I at least know you are in the northern hemisphere. That helps. I’ve had pullets hatched in March lay their first egg in early December. They were nine months old. Early December is the shortest day of the year with days marginally getting shorter, the time of year the science says they will not lay. I do not add supplemental light. I’ve had pullets six months old lay their first egg in early December. I’ve had pullets from the same broods wait until the days are getting longer, generally February, to lay their first egg.

    If you have production breeds they are more likely to start up sooner, while the decorative breeds tend to wait longer. But again, you will find plenty of exceptions to this.

    For future reference when you are dealing with hens and not pullets, I’ve had adult hens molt in the fall and start laying whenever the molt is finished, even in the heart of winter. I’ve had hens molt then wait until the days are getting longer to crank back up with laying. I’ve had some hens start the molt fairly early in the fall and get over it. I’ve had hens in the same flock in the same lighting conditions wait a couple of months longer to start the molt. Normally they are fairly close together when they molt but not always. They are just not consistent.

    Without knowing a lot of your details I think you have a reasonable chance of at least some of yours starting to lay pretty soon, especially with the combs and wattles turning red. That’s a good sign.

    Good luck with it.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. billdane

    billdane Out Of The Brooder

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    [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]
     
  7. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    I doubt that cockerel will ever start laying. Basically once the pullets combs get nice and red like your cockerel's they are going to drop an egg any day. The combs of Barred Rock and production red pullets shown are close.

    That far south you must still have near 12 hours of day light. I'm a bit over 10 hours from dawn till dusk up here spitting distance to Canadian border marker.

    All hatchery birds I had started laying 22-27 weeks. Some folks get earlier maturity with red sex links but typical is right around 24 weeks for hatchery layers like you have. The older birds will be laying this year, younger pullets likely January 2016.

    OK, I just looked up your sunrise-sunset for Dec 22 (darkest day) in Birmingham 6:47-4:43. Not as sun soaked as I thought but still much more than the 7:24-4:10 here. I get depressed just thinking about it let alone living it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    I’m surprised at you Egghead. You are usually better than that. Probably having an off day. North of the equator the days start getting shorter after the summer solstice. The further from the equator the shorter they get, but they cross that magic 12 hour line at the fall equinox. Before the fall equinox the days are longer than 12 hours, after they are shorter no matter where you are located north of the equator.

    Smilies are not displayed today so I can't use one to show I'm teasing a bit. But you are usually really good at this stuff.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    That top photo looks like a BR pullet with pink comb, not red.
     
  10. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Wilsonville, AL has a half hour more daylight than I do now.
     

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