Thomas Cobb column: Keeping chickens laying

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 26, 2014

As the winter months come upon us, it will continue to get colder and colder.

For those that have laying (egg) chickens, you will probably see your birds stop wanting to lay eggs. However, there are a few things that you can do to encourage egg production and keep your birds laying eggs.

One thing that affects laying for chickens is light. When daylight length shortens in winter months, one thing that can be done is to put lights in your coop and set them on a timer so that they stay on for a few hours after dusk. Chickens need approximately 12 to 14 hours of daylight.

Another key factor is housing. Make sure that the coop isn’t allowing a lot of cold air in and that no water is able to get to the birds. Cold and wet birds can develop respiratory issues if left untreated.

Some people put heat lamps in their coops. There are some positive and negative sides to this. Heat lamps on cold nights will keep the birds warm and willing to move about. But, during the day, heat lamps can cause birds to get too hot, depending on how high the temperature is outside. Also, running a heat lamp will increase your power bill.

The final issue is feed. During the winter, birds will use feed as an energy source to stay warm. If the birds are not given enough nutritious feed, all of their energy will be used to keep warm and maintain body condition, instead of on producing eggs. Also, egg birds need a higher protein feed.

Finally, birds get stressed from being moved and sudden feed changes. This can cause them to stop producing for a short time. Hopefully, these tips will keep your birds laying eggs throughout winter. Just keep in mind that you won’t see the same production as you do during the warmer parts of the year.

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