We’ve made it! It’s December 21, the winter solstice. Although I am not a big fan of the shorter day length and winter in general, the dynamics of how our big Earth is put together never ceases to amaze me. Our days will be noticeably longer a month from now and that makes me hopeful for spring.
How does this relate to chicken-keeping? When the days begin to shorten in the fall, it triggers laying hens to go into a molt. During their molt, they stop laying eggs and spend their energy replacing their feathers. They will then take a break from laying until the longer day length triggers them to begin again as we head toward spring.
Many chicken owners believe it’s the colder weather that causes a hen to stop laying. In fact, it’s all about the day length. Commercial egg producers leave the lights on in the poultry houses around the clock in order to keep the hens laying for maximum production. I personally feel that the hens have worked hard producing all year long, so I am happy to let them take a break.
If you keep chickens, tell me about your experiences when dealing with hens that stop laying in the winter. Have you ever tried to extend the day length to trigger them to lay?