How to Keep your Chickens Laying
Through the Winter
It is a common fact that chickens slow down or even stop laying during the cooler winter months. This can be a bit disconcerting especially when you still have to purchase the same amount of food to feed them.
But does it always have to be this way? Is there anything you can do to keep your hens laying through the winter?
There are a few things you can do to that will help. You may not have spring time production but you can have more eggs than you might otherwise.
The first thing to do is to make sure you chickens have a light on in their hen house. They need about 14 hours of light to lay. We have our lights set on a timer to come on around dusk and stay on for a few extra hours to insure our chickens get their 14 hours.
The next thing to keep in mind is that chickens require a good deal of protein to lay eggs. If you notice your egg production is down then you can add a bit of extra protein to their diet. There are many options for adding extra protein to their diets such as wheat, corn, oats, alfalfa, sunflower seeds, etc… But what we have tried and found the best success with is adding a few cooked soybeans along with their regular rations.
To prepare soybeans for your chickens is very easy. Soak a few cups of dried (organic is best) soybeans over night in several cups of water. The next day bring them to a boil and let them boil and cook for 20 to 30 minutes. This is very important. You should not feed your chickens any kind of bean without the soaking and precooking.
Then you can drain these beans and store them in the fridge. We feed these every couple of days at a rate of about 1 cup for every 10 hens. I have read that you can also buy roasted soybeans or soybean meal at feed stores but have never been able to find this.
A few other things to keep in mind if your chickens have slowed down or stopped their egg laying:
1. Are your chickens protected from the elements? Is you coop drafty and/or damp. They can handle a lot during the winter months as long as they are not damp and in a draft.
2. If chickens become stressed by predator problems, drastic feed changes, moving to a new location they will stop laying for a time.
3. Illness or bugs. If your chickens are sick or there are problems with lice or worms then they will not lay.
4. Finally remember that chickens do go through a season of molt after about one year of laying. They stop laying and will loose many of their feathers. This lasts from 2 to 6 weeks.
On the Homestead
Crystal Miller, 2007 All Rights Reserved
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