Friday, December 6, 2013

Keep hens laying in winter

Q: "I have never had a problem with chickens laying. Since the time change, they've stopped. Are they too old to lay?"

A: Don't retire those ladies quite yet. You need to install a light in your chicken coop.


Seasonal Affective Disorder? Try Seasonal Eggfective Disorder!

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Winter's shorter days and cold weather here in the Upper Midwest affect your poultry, too. Hens need 14 hours of light a day for egg production. (They don't need a rooster, though, to just produce your breakfast eggs.)

That's right: fourteen hours of light. 
The tried-and-true way I've found is to put a light on a timer in the chicken barn. It doesn't have to be a spotlight, or a flood light, or anything that will wake up the neighbors. A 40-watt bulb will do. 
Set the timer so the light turns on at 2:00am, then turns off at daylight. It will help ease the ladies into the day, instead of leaving them in the dark at night. That could actually stress them out. 

Imagine walking around at night and the lights suddenly go off, plunging you into darkness.  It can startle you, and cause stress.

Your hens might not stub their toes, but going from light to dark to light could lower egg production.

As always, post further questions in the comments section.

--Dale aka Turkeyman