Merry Christmas from the Garden: Winter Egg Production
Winter Egg Production
Jingle bells, batman smells, our chickens have quit laying eggs! If you raise laying hens, you will notice that egg production slows down dramatically during late fall and the winter months. Some of this can be attributed to colder temperatures, but the cause for this decline is less daylight hours.
Chickens are fairly routine oriented, so any change in routine typically throws off their egg laying pattern. A hen needs a minimum of 14 hours of daylight to release an egg. This means that if you want your birds to continue laying during winter, you will need to add some supplemental lighting. To reach the minimum 14 hours you will need to add 2-3 hours of lighting during the winter.
While supplemental lighting will certainly help boost egg production in the colder months, your hens will not be as productive as they are in the warmer months. They are expending a decent amount of energy keeping warm, and thus aren’t as productive. Another time your hens will stop producing eggs is when they molt.
Molting generally occurs in the fall. There is no quick fix to this natural occurrence as you have to let the molt run its’ course. You can stimulate regrowth of feathers by adding additional protein to your birds’ diet.
In order to get maximum, year-round egg laying potential is to keep them warm, ensure proper diet, keep water available at all times and supplement lighting.
Enough about eggs though, Christmas is almost here!
Holiday Dinner from the Garden
This is the time of year when many let their gardens fall by the wayside as the holiday season gets busy. People are kind of like chickens in this regard as they tend to not pick as many vegetables when it’s winter time!
Most of your hearty fall crops like cabbage, broccoli and collards will be just fine through some pretty good frosts. You will definitely want to try and protect some of the more tender crops like lettuce and Swiss chard.
By all means, if you are cold and tired like your backyard birds this month, then take a load off because you’ve earned it this year. Happy Holidays!