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Winter egg laying questions

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by pebble, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. pebble

    pebble Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 8, 2010
    Spokane WA
    Our Flock of three has started laying eggs and it is wonderful. We currently have a light on a timer providing several hours of morning and evening light.

    Q 1 Does egglaying during cold winter days take energy that would otherwise help them warm themselves?

    Q 2 If we taper back on lights now and egg production slows. Will the total amount of eggs they lay over their lifetime diminish?

    Q3 Again if light is tapered back can that force a molt in 7 month old hens. Subjecting them to the cold more?

    Thankyou.
     
  2. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:To Q1: Probably but you can increase their energy by adding a little scratch grain to their diet to increase it so it'll be a wash.
    Q2: No--there is a predetermined number of ova in every hen so sooner or later all will be laid. What it may do is shorten their laying life but not the number of eggs they can produce. Besides, given they are young birds reducing the light may not slow down production that much anyway.
    Q3: I doubt it'll force the moult. Chances are they'll hold off moulting until next fall regardless of what you do it is as much an age/breed related thing as light.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Q 1 Does egglaying during cold winter days take energy that would otherwise help them warm themselves?

    I don't know what your climate is, but as long as they get plenty to eat, it should not be a concern. What I am going to say is pretty simplistic and not 100% absolute, but they generally use protein to make the eggs or grow new feathers if they molt. They use foods higher in calories (think fats or carbohydrates, not protein) to keep themselves warm. It is different things. They do use energy to make and lay the eggs, but them staying warm and egg laying are not something I concern myself with. They will usually eat more to get enough calories to stay warm and get enough protein.

    Q 2 If we taper back on lights now and egg production slows. Will the total amount of eggs they lay over their lifetime diminish?

    Depends on how long their life is and other considerations. A hen is hatches with a set number of ova that become egg yolks. She lays most efficiently the first couple of years of her life. Then after her second adult molt (usually around 2-1/2 years) and every adult molt after that, her production drops an average of 15% each molt. They may still be laying at age 7 years, but it may only be one egg a week or maybe one a month. This is an average which does not mean a lot when you are talking about one individual hen, but if your flock is big enough for averages to mean anything, this is about what to expect. Very few hens actually lay every single egg they are capable of. They just don't live that long and the production rate slows down to almost, but not quite, nothing.

    If they go a long, long time without a molt, the egg production slows and the egg quality can drop some. They do need to go through a molt occasionally.

    Q3 Again if light is tapered back can that force a molt in 7 month old hens. Subjecting them to the cold more?

    It can. I find that if they are laying before the days get shorter, my first year layers like your 7 month olds tend to keep laying throughout the winter even though I do not provide any lights. I won't say that it won't trigger a molt, but I doubt it will if you taper off instead of all of a sudden shut it off.
     
  4. pebble

    pebble Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 8, 2010
    Spokane WA
    Thankyou Ridgerunner and Woodmort, Your timely and lengthy replies show you really care about birds and the success of others. greatly apprieciated.
     

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