BigBlueHen53

We will get through this... together!
Mar 5, 2019
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SE Missouri, USA
We put a light in the hen house the first of December. We had been getting one egg every other day for about six weeks at least. And before that, for a few weeks, maybe two eggs. Out of 24 layers. I'd say production seriously dropped about late September, early October, but I'd have to check my records to be sure. Ten are pullets hatched last March, the rest are a year older. Anyway, I could see this not improving for another month or two at least, so we put the light in, as I say, on or about Dec. 1. It's a heat lamp housing with a regular household bulb. We turn it on about 4 pm and off at 7 pm. This gives them a couple extra hours of light every day, giving them a 12-hour "day." For a couple of weeks nothing changed. Then one day we got two eggs. Gradually we have been getting more eggs. Now, a month later, we are getting 10 or 11 eggs a day. We feel that we just jump-started the winter solstice by about three weeks.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
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SW Michigan
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Just odd that this is not what I experienced my first two winters with chickens. Is it safe to say that was due to them being pullets?
Were the birds laying over winter less than 10-12 months old?
What breeds were they?
Some high production hybrids will lay and lay and lay and lay and lay.
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
13 Years
Nov 18, 2007
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Florida
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I agree with @aart. Breeds do have something to do with the number of eggs layed. Often time the younger birds will lay throughout the winters and also hybrids. My birds older birds lay during the year don't lay as well in the winter but I do get a few eggs for the number of birds I have. Come spring everyone will be laying. My Leghorns and Rhode Island Whites are good layers pretty much year around. They do slow down when they are molting. Some friends who raise bantams have told me that their birds don't usually lay in the winter months. They may get an eggs now and then but rarely.
 

Offshoreorca

Songster
Apr 15, 2020
752
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Nova Scotia
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We have mostly Cochins (which typically aren't thought of as the best layers) in our flock of 20. They often start molting around mid October here in Nova Scotia, Canada. At that point, our egg production drops drastically if there are no new pullets to lay through the winter - this is why I like adding a few new hens every year, but as I have heritage and slow maturing birds, this means that they have to be started early as most don't begin lay until well after 6 months. This year I missed that bus and our pullets only began laying towards the end of December (four

For us production starts ramping up again as soon as the Winter Solstice has passed and continues to increase until about the end of January when we start to get inundated with eggs. Last spring with 11 hens (including the silkie plus our Cochins) we were getting a minimum of 56 eggs per week. I'm already up to eight eggs a day now and climbing. They lay great February through June and then drop off a little for the summer months in the heat (but lay more than enough for everyone) and continue like this until the fall molt.

Our silkie hen is broody most of the summer, but she lays really well in the buffer months which helps us not have to buy eggs. We just cut our egg consumption in the lean months and rely on eggs we have preserved to augment this.
 

Onyxflock

Chirping
Jan 25, 2020
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aart (or anyone else for that matter), are you saying that sometimes pullets will lay through their first winter but then shut it down completely in subsequent winters?


I have a mixed flock of fifteen 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 year olds. They all slowed slightly through their first winter, but still remained productive. Now they're on their second and third winters, and we get a total of one egg every other day - and I suspect it's from the same one hen. I can check off all the other boxes for reasons that 14 of them seemingly have stopped:

* clean water
* diet of mostly layer pellets, very little treats
* California winter mild compared to other parts
* no stress
* no overcrowding
* no visible signs of parasites or illness
* heavy molt started three months ago, new feathers came in a month ago

I basically went from 8-11 eggs a day to 1 every other day. Should winter make THAT much of a difference?
A lot of California areas experienced unusual darkness last summer due to the smoke from wildfires. For Aug. - Oct, it was grey & hazy and felt like winter, but it was hot. Here in So. Sierras it was dark & no sunlight. I really believe that threw my hens off and they molted early & shut down laying. They're still off, but laying an egg here and there finally. Hoping Spring they'll ramp back up and at least earn their keep 🐣
 

stavo

Chirping
Were the birds laying over winter less than 10-12 months old?
What breeds were they?
Some high production hybrids will lay and lay and lay and lay and lay.
Yes, the winter layers were less than 10-12 mos old. I guess what I'm hearing is that their molt is not as bad the first year so it doesn't affect production as much.

Among the 15 the main layers are an orpington, 2 americaunas, 4 swedish flowers, 2 blue isbars, 2 easter eggers, and a cream legbar.
 

Sally PB

Songster
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
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Belding, MI
I'm hoping that the redder looking comb on one of my girls means she's thinking about laying again. She was the first layer, the first molter. She looks like her feathers are pretty much back. :fl

I have the fake eggs in the next box arranged in a certain way so that I'll know if anyone has been in there.
 

NickyPick

Songster
Sep 18, 2010
767
189
221
Cypress, TX
Completely normal, unless you are providing supplemental light. Hens shut down on the shorter light days of winter. It's good for their longevity, if that matters to you. I have 60+ hens this winter and in the last 4 weeks, we've been in the single digits. I added 7 hens in April, who are pretty much the only ones laying right now, and another 20 hens in September. They'll start laying in March. Basically, if you want winter eggs, get chicks in April/May. They won't be molting in September and will be more likely to lay in the short days of winter as it's their first season. Older hens will shut down, but, for me, I'm fine with that, because it means they will live and lay longer.
 

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