You may have noticed that your girls have slowed or stopped egg production starting later in the fall. Although this is annoying, especially when you want all of those eggs for holiday baking, it is all part of Mother Nature’s plan. Because they are not laying, they are able to put that energy toward new feather production and overhauling their reproductive system to be able to produce more eggs in Spring. You will notice around this time that your chickens are starting to look crazy from loosing feathers. This is called molting and it’s your chickens’ way of shedding old feathers and growing new ones.
If you would like eggs through the winter, you can put a light or white heat lamp inside the coop. This will trick your chickens into thinking it’s Spring or Summer with longer daylight hours. You don’t need to add heat if you just want to use a regular light bulb to save on the energy bill. Commercial poultry operations have lights on a timer to make sure the chickens are laying pretty much year round.
If you do choose to put a light in the coop, we recommend that you use a timer so that it does turn off for a few hours to give your chickens a rest. Set the timer for about half an hour before it gets dark until 8-9pm depending on how many hours of daylight you are getting. You want them to get between 8-10 hours of light to keep laying.
Remember that your chickens will need to go through a molt at another time of year if you have them laying through winter. If they go a year without molting, egg production will decrease and general health can decline as well from too much stress. Most backyard chicken farmers let their chickens go through their natural cycles, but if you want eggs in winter you can follow these steps!
If you have further questions about this or have successfully tried it, please let us know in the comments!