Many of us backyard chicken raisers have probably noticed that our chickens are laying fewer, if any, eggs this time of year. This is not an uncommon occurrence, and there are several factors that can cause this.
First, even though we are in Texas it still gets pretty cold during the winter months. During this time of year chickens will limit egg production due to the shorter daylight hours we have to allow them to focus on resting and conserving energy to stay warm. Adding additional light in coops can help simulate longer day time hours. Most studies have found that keeping a light on in the coop until about 10 pm can help egg production. Also making sure we have a good heat source to keep our chickens nice and warm can help.
The next thing we need to look at is water and nutrition. Eggs are made of about 85% water, so if your chickens are thirsty or don’t have access to a reliable water source eggs are just not going to happen. Ideally chickens need a balanced diet of around 16% protein for optimal egg production, but during the winter months it is a good idea to up that to 20% protein since they are going to use more energy to stay warm. Also, adding leafy forage for them will also help with egg production. Lettuce, cabbage, and other vegetables all work.
Age is another factor in egg production. Our younger chickens will have an easier time during the winter than the older chickens will. Older chickens tend to slow down more during this time because it is harder for them to regulate their body temp than it is for the younger ones.
These are a few things that we can do to help promote egg production during the winter. Be keep in mind, while we may try our best, nature will still take its course, and we can expect egg production to at least slow down.
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