Tales from the Animal Whisperer: My Chickens are on Winter Break!

Why don’t your chickens lay eggs in the winter?? Maybe they did the first year, but after that, nope, no eggs!

There are a couple reasons your birds don’t lay in the winter. Don’t be so hard on them, as other birds don’t lay eggs either. You don’t see eggs in the robin’s nest or the hummingbird’s nest, so don’t expect any in the chicken nesting box.

Reason #1: A chicken needs 18 hours of sunlight to make an egg. Well, that right there tells you why you’re not getting eggs every day, but you should still get some every other day or every third day, don’t you think?

Reason #2: Chicken usually begin their molt in the late fall/early winter. It take a lot of protein to grow feathers back. Hens can’t produce feathers AND eggs at the same time.

Reason #3: If your winter is a cold one, your hens need to use their energy just to keep warm.

Reason #4: Chickens need water and lots of it to produce an egg. When it’s cold out, they drink less.

Reason #5: Chickens don’t lay when they’re stressed. The cold weather and lack of sunlight stresses them.

Some folks like to use a heat lamp and a light on a timer to try and keep their hens laying throughout the winter, but a heat lamp is nothing but a fire hazard. Your hens don’t need heat. They just need a dry, draft-free enclosure. And the light on the timer works, but if I were a hen, I’d like to enjoy my winter break!

So, what do we do for eggs in the winter?

That’s where you learn to store your summer eggs while you’re swimming in them. Pre-bake quiches and egg-baked goods. Freeze eggs. Learn to pickle eggs. And if you’re like the rest of us, you shuffle down to the market with your tail between your legs, and a pout on your face, and you buy a dozen eggs. 😦

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