winter egg production

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sezjasper, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. sezjasper

    sezjasper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've seen lots of threads about adding artificial light during the winter to increase egg production, but I'm wondering if the "off-season" for egg laying might be nature's way of giving their bodies a break. Don't get me wrong, it's great getting eggs every day, but I love my chickens more than I love their eggs, and if that annual vacation from egg laying gives them a longer and healthier life, then I don't want to do anything to change what nature intended. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Thanks!
     
  2. StarLover21

    StarLover21 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You are totally right; it is a way of giving their bodies a break, and they will be much healthier if you just let nature take it's course. I feel a bit sorry for the poor hens who are forced to pump out an egg every day; it's not what their bodies are meant for.

    Even if you do give light to hens, it doesn't mean they're going to lay longer- all chickens have a number of egg cells they are born with; forcing them to lay in the winter just means that they are going to stop laying completally sooner.

    I agree, I love my chickens more than I love their eggs. Perfectly worded :)
     
  3. Double Laced

    Double Laced Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Adding light is fine as long as your hens have gone through a natural moult in the fall/autumn, this normally takes between 3 and 6 weeks depending on the breed.

    My Barnevelders lay naturally all year , it is very slow in winter, 1 or 2 eggs a week with no artificial light. They even lay whilst moulting, barnies seem to do everything slowly, from growing up to moulting.

    Commercially hybrids are kept under light for up to 20 months and are then disposed of as it is not financially viable to moult them and they are of little future use as eggs layers. keeping them under lights will shorten their life and impact the quality of the eggs in the long term.
     
  4. sezjasper

    sezjasper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you StarLover, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one to feel like this...lol... It's interesting to learn about the number of egg cells...I never knew that but it does make sense!
     
  5. sezjasper

    sezjasper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My girls are only 5 months old, do they moult in the first year?
    I've actually had people ask me if we are going to eat our chickens when they stop laying eggs. I'm sure there are people who do that, but that's not going to happen to my girls!!!
     
  6. JackE

    JackE Overrun With Chickens

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    I don't add any light in the winter to force more eggs out of them either. That's what they do on egg farms looking to maximize production/profit. I still get plenty of eggs for my family, I just don't have extras to give to anybody else. The chickens have the easy life around here.
    Jack
     
  7. Double Laced

    Double Laced Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chicks go through three partial and one full moult before they mature and start to lay,

    Giving young birds some extra light might be a good idea especially if you live far north and have very short winter days. Even full grown hens can struggle to eat enough food if the days are shorter than 8 hours. young birds can lose condition and even die over the winter if they are short of food, or even just short enough time to eat what they have.

    I keep all my hens and we have a few around seven years old that do not lay any more. I dont give any extra light to the full grown hens, like most people who keep their own chickens we prefer to do things the natural way and suffer a bit of a shortage in winter.
     
  8. sezjasper

    sezjasper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So I've actually missed all of their moulting periods so far?? Oh lord do I have a lot to learn...lol...thankfully my chickens are thriving in spite of having me for their human...lol...

    Good point on the food issue, Double Laced. I'm the only one who fills their feeder so it will be easy for me to keep track of how much they are eating. We're not too far north here in Maryland, so I'm not going to worry about it unless I see them slack off on their feed.

    I really appreciate everyone's input on this!
     

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