Fewer Eggs in Autumn?
As the days get shorter you are likely to notice lower egg production in your laying hens. It’s one of those facts of life to take into account when deciding to keep chickens for eggs. Although we have bred chickens for larger size, increased egg size and numbers, quieter temperament, and showy feathers, we haven’t been able to breed chickens that will lay eggs year round without making some adjustments in their environment…namely an increase in their daylight hours.
Turn the Lights On, Please!
A hen’s natural rythem tells her body to stop laying eggs as the days shorten in autumn. In the grand scheme of things, it makes no sense for a chicken to raise a clutch of babies when winter is on the way. When daylight hours dip below 14 or 15 hours per day, our laying hens slow down production and will stop laying completely if they don’t have a light on a timer in their coop. If you wish to continue collecting those precious orbs, set up a nice, bright light to come on for at least 14 hours each day. Make absolutely sure that your setup is safe and won’t cause a fire hazard. You should notice an increase in egg production within a few days.
Folks who keep chickens as pets and wish to mimic the natural order of things may wish to let their hens take a break for the winter. Doing this will allow them to lay the same number of eggs over a longer lifespan. These hens will continue to lay eggs later in life, although you will need to feed them while they’re on winter break. I don’t choose to do this, because my chickens are kept as livestock, not pets, and I process them when their production gets too low. Of course, it’s completely up to you how you choose to manage your flock.
If you would like more information about increasing flock production, check out my post How to Get More Eggs From Your Laying Hens