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    7 Tips for Winter Egg Production

    Authored by Jemma Petts

    Chickens take a break from laying eggs in the fall and winter months – it’s their bodies' time for a little rest and relaxation. If you are a poultry owner who would like to have fresh eggs year-round, there are some tricks that can stimulate egg production during these cooler seasons. Read on for 7 tips for winter egg production.

    1. Artificial light

    Simulate longer daylight hours with an artificial light source. Your flock needs 12 to 14 hours of daylight to keep producing. Properly fit your lightbulb away from chickens and bedding, and make sure to install the correct kind of bulb. Add a timer so you can provide these extra light hours in the morning, matching the extra hours throughout winter to give chickens a consistent 12 to 14 hours of light. Be prepared with backup bulbs of the same color and wattage and perform safety checks on your light source regularly. Do not give more than 16 hours of light a day.

    2. Add heat if necessary

    Keep coop temperatures above 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Install insulation and cover entryways and drafty spots. Put in windows to gather heat from the sun. If you are adding a lightbulb, a 40W bulb is enough to raise the temperature a few degrees. Other options are flat panel heaters and infrared heaters that can be hung overhead. Keep in mind a flat panel heater will only warm a small section, so place near roosting areas for best results. Always perform safety checks on your heating elements and have a warmth backup plan in case the power goes out – birds can be in danger with a drastic change in temperature.

    3. Proper feed and protein

    Keeping production going through winter requires extra attention to feed. Adding extra protein to a chicken’s diet can help boost energy for laying. Double check you are using the correct mix of feed – layer feed to laying chickens and the correct ration. Too much scratch grain can also have an impact. 

    4. Extra hydration

    Make sure chickens have plenty of water, especially if you are installing artificial light and/or heat. Don’t let water freeze. If you can’t check on the water source regularly during cold months, consider a heated waterer. Chickens tend to drink more water in the colder months if it is warmed. If you are adding heat, maintain humidity in the coop.

    5. Clean the coop

    Give chicken coops a big clean before the cooler weather arrives. Plug any holes that could allow drafts or predators in and install or repair insulation. Clean up nesting boxes and add fresh bedding, giving extra warmth. Nesting boxes should be offered at 1 box per 4 hens. Be sure to add more if needed. 

    6. Remove stressors

    Coop stress and outside-the-coop stressors can cause egg production to slow or stop. Create a calm environment for chickens by predator proofing their coop. You can use wire and metal screens on doors and windows to keep unwanted visitors away. Remove aggressive hens. Provide enough indoor space for your chickens with at least 4 square feet for each one of your birds.  Listen for any surprising or loud noises that may occur around the coop and remove if possible.

    7. Provide entertainment

    Birds need enrichment and play time just like us, especially being cooped up during these chilly months. Bring in chicken swings, ladders and treat balls to keep the gals busy. You can make your own cricket tubes or hang safe mirrors for hours of play. An easy DIY enrichment is burying seeds between newspaper, let chickens work them out and entertain themselves at very little cost.

    Keeping chickens laying through the winter is a personal preference. Some flock owners prefer to let nature take its course and wait for spring to arrive; others will use these tips to keep hens producing year-round. No matter what your preference is, these tricks are good practice to keep your chickens happy and healthy during the cold months. If egg production is still slow, there could be other problems. Find out more about why chickens stop laying eggs

    More information about egg production

    Chickens can live in cold weather, but there are a few things they need to stay healthy. Learn about proper heating, airflow & nutrition for your flock this winter.
    Properly collecting and storing homegrown eggs will preserve their freshness for future use in a vast variety of culinary dishes. Read more on what makes a good egg.