Do Chickens Lay Eggs in the Winter
Yes, chickens do lay eggs in winter. However, the conditions must be right to help them keep laying eggs throughout this cold season. This means you need to be on alert whenever seasons change to ensure that your birds, especially layers, are as comfortable as possible. In other words, subject your chickens to the right conditions no matter the time of the year.
Bear in mind that one of the reasons for raising chickens is to collect eggs regularly. Unfortunately, this may not happen depending on different factors. Key among the factors that may stop you from collecting eggs throughout is a change of season. Often, chickens lay more eggs in summer than in winter.
Wintery conditions make your hens slow down on egg production and this can interrupt your supply of eggs. So, how do you ensure that your layers produce eggs continuously regardless of the time of the year? Read on to find out easy tips that make your hens keep laying eggs even in winter.
Chicken Egg Production in Winter
As stated above, chickens tend to slow down or stop laying eggs in winter. During this period, the weather becomes colder and days get shorter than nights. So, your chickens are exposed to less light and more hours of darkness which ultimately affects their egg-laying ability.
These weather changes signal your chickens’ bodies to rest from vigorous activities such as roaming the yard, running around, and laying eggs. By so doing, your chickens conserve energy to stay warm and alive in such extreme weather conditions.
Typically, a reduction in daylight is the main reason your hens stop laying eggs in winter. Chickens need an average of 14 hours of light a day to lay eggs. Sadly, daylight is severely reduced to around 9 hours in winter in most places that experience four seasons.
Such a reduction in daylight must be compensated by additional hours of artificial light to make your chickens keep laying. A proper diet and a healthy environment are also factors that can promote egg production in winter as explained in the following section.
Basic Conditions Needed for Winter Egg Laying
Your chickens can lay eggs in winter when you provide them with the basic conditions necessary for egg production. These conditions range from sufficient light to a nutritionally balanced diet and a conducive environment for backyard chickens during the winter period.
1. Sufficient Light
Light is essential for your chickens at any given time of the year. Even in winter, light is needed to make your chickens active and productive. Sufficient light helps maintain egg laying at optimum levels despite changes in weather conditions. With that being said, make sure to keep your flock under lighting during the winter season.
Remember, your chickens need 12 to 14 hours of daylight to lay eggs as usual. The only way to ensure they are receiving enough hours of light is to install artificial lighting in their coops. In this case, 40 Watts lightbulbs can act as their main source of artificial light.
For instance, a 40-Watt light build can provide sufficient light for a coop measuring 10 by 10 inches. Factor in this amount of space covered by one light bulb with the number of chickens you have to know the exact number of bulbs you need to install.
2. Proper Diet
A well-balanced diet is a must during winter or any other time to boost egg production. Keep in mind that your chickens need more food during winter to stay warm, energetic, and productive than they need in summer. Besides, your chickens need a lot of nutrients to lay good-quality eggs.
Add some extra protein to your chickens’ feed to enable them to get through the winter molting season. Give them plenty of commercial chicken feed and a few treats such as nuts and sunflower seeds to act as their source of essential nutrients.
Provide them with enough calcium (from crushed oyster shells) to help them lay eggs with strong eggshells. Calcium will also allow them to create much-needed contractions when laying eggs. Don’t forget to supply them with clean fresh water during the day to help them digest their food and stay hydrated throughout.
3. Healthy Living Environment
Artificial light and a proper diet are not the only requirements to make your chickens lay eggs through the winter months. A healthy and conducive living environment is also a basic need for your chickens to lay good quality eggs during the cold weather season.
Ensure that your chickens are living in a clean and spacious coop to make them feel comfortable and safe. The coop should be well-ventilated, warm, and secured from predators of all sizes. The nesting boxes and bedding inside the coop should be warm and free of pests.
In this case, you must maintain proper cleanliness of the coop all the time. Clean the coop by taking away the bedding, getting rid of the debris from roosting spots, run or nesting boxes, and keeping the vermins out. Insulate the coop using an extra layer of dense but fresh bedding material to keep the cop warmer.
Common Problems for Chickens During Winter
Winter season comes with its share of problems for chicken owners. These problems are the reasons why your flock of layers may experience a sharp decline in egg production.
Cold weather, shortened days, predator threats, and lack of foraging are some of the factors that cause chickens to stop laying eggs in winter. So, if you can solve all these problems, you will stand a great chance of collecting eggs all around the year.
Help Chickens Stay Healthy and Lay Eggs in the Winter
You should always be prepared for extremely cold winter conditions. Your preparation list must include the well-being of your backyard chickens, especially layers. In order for you to achieve this feat, you must consider improving the following areas:
– Warm Shelter
Just like human beings, chickens need a warm, dry place during the start and end of the winter season in your region. Consider installing heated resting pads, heated perches, and heated waterers to keep your birds comfortable.
If possible, add a safe but effective ceramic wall heater to the chicken shelter to keep the surroundings warm.
– Proper Nutrition
Chickens need the right type of food to stay warm and produce eggs during the bad weather months. Their food should be nutritionally balanced with the right amount of proteins, carbs, vitamins, and minerals.
Feed your layers foods rich in calcium to help them produce top-quality eggs in winter. Include a few tasty treats and other supplements to enable your flock to survive the winter season.
– Additional Heat Source
An additional source of heat is necessary during the bad weather months to keep the coop warm throughout. A wall heater can come in handy to save the situation. In some cases, you may use special bulbs to act as both a source of artificial light and heat. Set the additional heat source up to only a period that most freezing happens to overcome frostbite.
– Artificial Lighting
Provide artificial light to your flock of layers to help them continue laying in the winter season. Several 40-watt bulbs (avoid using fluorescent lightbulbs) can keep the coop well-lit throughout the cold season. All you need to do is to ensure that your source of artificial light is securely fitted.
Use either a chain metal or wire and not the strings (rodents such as rats and mice can chew or cut the string) to fix the bulbs at strategic positions. Also, install the bulbs at a reasonable height that is out of reach of your chickens. The builds should as well be away from potentially flammable materials or dry bedding.
Once you have successfully put the artificial light sources in place, use a timer to monitor and control the hours your flock is exposed to light. Most importantly, add this source of artificial light in the morning hours particularly between 4:00 am and 8:00 am to avoid stressing your chickens.
Apart from that, your source of the artificial light timer should be in sync with the sunset time to ensure that your birds are getting around 14 hours of light consistently.
– Heated Nesting Boxes
Your layers need special types of nesting boxes during the extreme winter time. The nesting boxes should be heated to a temperature that keeps your flock comfortable.
These special structures will prevent eggs and their content from freezing. In this sense, make sure the heated nesting boxes maintain a temperature of up to negative 15 degrees celsius all the time.
– Water Heating Systems
Install water heating systems to prevent drinking water from freezing. Remember, water freezes at zero degrees celsius and this can be tricky for your chickens.
That is why you need to invest in several water heating systems to ensure that drinking water for your birds does not freeze to the point of making it difficult to drink.
It is true that chickens lay eggs in winter but not as much as they do during summer. Their decline in egg production is caused by changes in weather conditions, especially hours of daylight and temperature.
These factors play a key role in egg production. Therefore, you must always ensure that your chickens are subjected to the right basic conditions to keep them laying eggs throughout the year.
Sufficient light, a proper diet, an additional heat source, and a safe environment are all the basic needs your hens require in winter to lay eggs. Aside from that, choose the most appropriate chicken breed that can withstand wintery conditions.
Chicken breeds such as Buckeye, Australorp, Orpington, Plymouth Rock, Dominique, Wyandotte, Delaware, Welsummer, New Hampshire Red, Araucanas, and Sussex are highly recommended for you because they can comfortably lay eggs during winter.