No matter how much a backyard chicken enthusiast loves chickens, the most common reason to have a flock is for the fresh eggs. That being said, many egg layers slow down (or completely stop laying) during the winter cold months.
However, it doesn't have to be that way. Here are some tips to get eggs year-round from your chickens.
Get the right type of chicken.
There are many breeds of chickens and some lay better than others. Traditionally, there are meat birds, laying birds, and those who are dual-purpose (they are good egg layers and can be used for meat). The egg layers have been bred to lay eggs throughout the winter, more than meat and dual-purpose birds do. There are also breeds, such as Leghorns and Sex Links, which are bred to maximize egg production, even in the winter.
Use artificial light.
Most chickens require fourteen hours of daylight in order to lay eggs. Unfortunately, for most of the United States, we are looking at only nine or ten hours of daylight during the winter months. For that reason, many chicken farms add artificial light to make sure that their chickens have the required amount of daylight to continue to produce eggs during the winter.
That being said, chickens need six to eight hours a night to rest and stay healthy so you can't just leave the light on all day and night long. Your best bet would be to get a timer to make sure that your chickens get enough light to keep laying, while still being able to get enough sleep at night.
Maintain a healthy diet.
It is important that you feed your laying hens properly to ensure good egg production. This is even more important in the winter when they can't forage for bugs and other things in their yard.
The best way to keep your chickens laying in the winter is to buy chickens that are bred to be good egg-layers. These are more likely to keep laying, even as the weather gets colder. You also need to think about using artificial light. Hens need fourteen hours of light in order to lay eggs. However, you can overdo this because they also need a good night's sleep to stay healthy and productive!
And as always, treat your egg layers with PopWorms! to help keep them healthy and happy!