Monday, September 17, 2012

How to keep your Chickens laying Eggs through Winter without the use of Laying Pellets!

It can be frustrating and disappointing come winter time when you go out into the coop to get a nice dozen or so home grown farm fresh eggs for breakfast omelets and find that your hens are sitting together in a huddle with no eggs beneath them. Here are some tips to help your girls keep on laying through Winter and giving your family those delicious deep yolked eggs you love so much- without the need for laying pellets!




Light. A hen’s laying is influenced by her pineal gland, which in turn is controlled by daylight. Sixteen hours of light each day, supplemented by a 60-watt incandescent light bulb or two on a timer, is ideal for keeping birds active – and laying eggs. Also, this can shorten their egg laying lifespan.

Roosts. By nature, chickens like to roost at night. This is also their way to stay warm: with feathers fluffed, they share body heat by roosting close to each other. Make sure your chickens have comfortable roosts with 6-8 inches of roost space per bird. 

Heated water. Depending on how cold it gets where you live, you might need to keep the hens’ water supply from freezing. Feed stores sell heater bases that fit underneath the typical galvanized metal chicken waterers.

Deep litter. The deep litter method is low-maintenance, and it keeps hens warm through winter as the litter and manure slowly compost and release heat into the coop. Just start with a clean coop and about 4 inches of litter (hay, straw, wood shavings, or a mix) in the summer or early fall. Simply add more litter throughout the season as needed to keep the bedding fairly dry and clean. By winter, the litter should be about 8 to 10 inches deep. It will be composting nicely and giving off heat. The chickens’ scratching will keep it aerated and turned, especially if you throw scratch grains in the coop for them, but you can give it a hand with a pitchfork every once in a while.


Additional Notes:
You can also make a "sun room" for your gals in winter, like a green  house addition to the coop where they can get out and stretch their legs and not be smushed together over the cold months and spred a bit of straw or hay on the snow or icy ground, chickens don't like getting their feet cold below the 30 degree mark.

   Also, you can add a cabbage "ball" to the pen for them to play with and keep from getting bored, just tie the cabbage from the rafters and hang it low enough that your chickens can peck away at the ball and have a little fun too. Will keep the girls from going stir crazy- happy chickens = laying eggs!

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