It’s absolutly crazy to think that we’re already into the second month of 2017, but time ‘flies’ when you’re keeping chickens! Okay… Enough of the bad puns. Though, the lack of daylight and cold weather can really affect their egg laying.
I’ve definitely noticed the evenings staying lighter for longer and so have my girls. I believe that they noticed the change in the day length very shortly after the shortest day (December 21st) as I started getting eggs again just a few days after. This makes total sense given that they spend plenty of time exposed to daylight so they’re able to have a well calibrated circadian rhythm. It was ever so exciting to collect that first egg after months of none at all.
Buying eggs when you’ve got a flock of birds can seem paradoxical, but it is completely natural for hens to reduce or cease their egg laying during the cooler winter months when the amount of daylight diminishes. This makes sense as hens are less likely to hatch chicks successfully when the days are shorter and temperatures are low.
I remember my girls going into a moult around the end of September and they only just stopped moulting a week or two before Christmas.
Nutrition is always important for your hens, but when the days are still relatively short and the temperatures aren’t regularly in double digits, and can even be in the minus digits, I would suggest a supplement such as Poultry Spice and perhaps the occasional treat of mixed corn or kibbled maize to give them some additional carbohydrates for warmth. It is also quite nice to make a warm, wet mash from your laying feed and give this to them for their breakfast.
If you do decide to give corn to your flock, keep it to an amount that they can consume so that it isn’t left lying around to attract rodents. It is also important to mention that this treat is best given in the evening as your hens should be eating their laying feed during the day.
It won’t be long before your girls get back to egg laying, if they’re not presently, as the days are quickly lengthening. I’ve gradually been getting more and more eggs. I’ve got thirteen hens and the daily maximum so far has been eleven.
My flock is a mix of pure breeds and various ‘hybrids’ I’ve hatched myself over the years so their ages vary as much as their laying patterns. I get a lovely variety of egg colours and over time I’ve come to know which hen lays
Now that they’re laying regularly, I’ve been filling up several of my white egg trays. I find they’re a lovely way to see what’s been laid and they stack nicely if you have more than 30 eggs at any one time.