Anyone who owns backyard chickens knows what Winter means. The change in sunlight mixed with winter weather cause a drop in egg production. It can be discouraging to watch your egg-laying hens close shop during the cold season, especially while feeding them isn’t exactly cheap. But there are some ways to help them.
Hens stop laying eggs because during the freezing cold nights of Winter, your chickens are using most of its bodily resources on keeping warm. Chickens then go into a “rest” mode, which is normal for them. It is perfectly fine to let nature take its course and wait until warmer months to see your production of eggs become more steady. But there are a few tips you can utilize to encourage your chickens to continue laying.
Give your chickens more food and water
They need it anyway. Chickens need about 1.5 times more food water in the winter months. This is recommended for more than just the purpose of increasing egg production ─ although it does help. Their bodies need more energy to keep warm during the bitter cold days.
Chickens don’t tend to overeat, so you can’t go wrong here. At worst, you will wake up to find some leftover food in their feeders.
Try supplementing their normal feed with more carbohydrates and protein. Many chicken owners add chicken scratch to their meals. You can also try a cup of oats, mealworms, fodder and vegetable/fruit scraps.
Daylight is key
The amount of daylight your chickens see determines how many eggs they lay. It can vary, but as a rule, hens need 14 hours of light in order to produce. This is a survival instinct among chickens, because their offspring wouldn’t have a good chance of surviving in the freezing months.
The warmer Summer months typically provide an adequate amount of daylight. If the Winter days aren’t offering enough light, you can install a 250-watt bulb in your coop. This wattage won’t be too bright and has the added benefit of providing warmth for your girls. Place the light above the watering container and feeder, and make sure there are no shady areas of the coop.
Be Patient and Observant
Even if you practice these tips, your chickens may still wait until Spring to produce. But keep an eye on them, and make sure that their decreased egg production is because of the weather, not because of sickness. Watch out for cold and flu symptoms, and check with an avian veterinarian if you suspect an ailment.
Also, keep in mind that a hen’s age plays a factor in how many eggs it lays. Above all, make sure your hens are happy. As a result, you will enjoy a healthy egg production.