No eggs in the winter....

Discussion in 'Behavior & Flock Management' started by Chicken-gal, Jan 5, 2013.

  1. Chicken-gal

    Chicken-gal New Member

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    Hi every one :)
    Every year with our 5 or 6 different flocks of chickens, they have always stopped laying in the winter... I know plenty of people around us who still get plenty! We have tried a light on a timer, a heater, a heater and a light... nothing works! This year we gave up trying any of it and it kills us to have to buy eggs! Any other ideas??
     
  2. wkboggs5

    wkboggs5 New Member

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    Well...This is our first year with chickens. We have six mature golden comets and four gold lace girls who JUST started laying.
    We get about 5-6 eggs per day. Using light only. Laying mash mixed 50/50 with scratch.
    What and how are you feeding??
    Before I put the light in, our production had stopped and the new girls had yet to start laying.
    Bill
     

  3. haley4217

    haley4217 Junior Member

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    Lots of things come to mind.

    1. Age of chickens....My 3 yr olds take a long time to start laying when I start increasing their light, much more than 2 yr olds, etc.
    2. Molting ... Did your hens molt at the end of the year? As you probably know during the molt most hens stop laying due to the higher demand for protein to replace feathers. Did you increase their protein intake, (dry cat food does work), so that they could build back up after the molt to be able to start producing eggs.
    3. Increasing light... Color of light, white? IMHO I start the light in January with a timer and increase the duration each week. Start in week 1 about one hour before us. Is up and shining well, about 10 days later increase another hour. My goal is to get light on about 4 am by mid-February. Then I'll add an hour or so to light after sun down. All the while trying to let them be out of the coop as long as possible.
     
  4. wkboggs5

    wkboggs5 New Member

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    I leave my light on 24/7.
    What's your thoughts??
    I never heard about dry cat food. I've relied completely on the laying mash and scratch.
    How much do you feed? Cat food at is...
     
  5. jen3910

    jen3910 New Member

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    This is my first winter. Our barred rocks are still laying almost every day. Our blond EE hasn't laid for a month and our red/brown EE has slowly petered off - cant wait for my pretty green and blue eggs again. We don't use any supplemental light.
     
  6. haley4217

    haley4217 Junior Member

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    Realize that you'll read a lot on the net about feeding cat food to chickens, both pro and con. So, realize the following about my flock.

    1. My girls are spoiled, as to the quality of dry cat food, I buy very good quality food paying attention to the ingredients and protein level.
    2. My girls are spoiled, did I mention that? They get to free range almost every day and get some access to protein through bugs, worms, etc.
    3. I mix the dry cat food with their grain and corn scratch mix in the afternoon. My goal is to get a feed protein of about 20 - 25%. So, I need 4 cups of feed..... 2 cups of 40% dry cat food plus 2 cups of 10% grain mix = 4 cups with an average of about 25%. [40+10=50/2=25]. I think that I told you they were spoiled, they don't like large pellets so I break the dry cat food down into small pieces like the crumbles in their feed.
    4. This is a protein treat during the molt and only if they aren't getting added protein from somewhere else. Occasionally, I'll sprout some oats to give them protein instead of dry cat food. Bugs and worms from the free range are the best.


    I recommend that you try a "Flock Block" from Purina Mills. 8% Protein, plus calcium and minerals. I keep this out free choice for my flock at all times. They seem to know when they need it as when there is plenty of free range food available the block will last a month or more. Less bugs or worm and heavy laying the block will be gone in 10 to 15 days. Really minimized the molt time this year, in my opinion.

    As to light, I live in an area where we have a fairly good day length even in December. I believe I resting the girls and want them to stop laying for a month or so, so I usually don't give them too much light. But, as long as you don't have any problems with the flock fighting or pecking on each other because they have too much light, then I'd say keep the
    Ought going 24/7.

    Do you discontinue light when your days reach 12 hours plus?
     
  7. haley4217

    haley4217 Junior Member

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    As to winter eggs, I try to add 3 or four girls to the flock by March. This means they will start laying by October and will lay through winter without any light. This lets the rest of the girls rest, but I've still got a dozen eggs a week. This also means that as the older girls cut back to >30 hours between eggs due to age the summer count of eggs stays up to meet demand.
     
  8. wkboggs5

    wkboggs5 New Member

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    I will turn it off once the days lengthen. Only turned it on as they quit laying and even then it was a good ten days or so before they went back to laying.
    Curious, I tried a flock block a few months ago...turned rainy and was mostly, partly wasted.
    I need to make some notes as to how much I'm feeding, I can tell by some of these posts.
    I keep my feeder about half full for them. One of those galvanized feeders. 3 gal???
    Any more than that and they throw out too much on the ground. Maybe from over the top??
    New today to this forum, but I can see it being a great help to me.
    Thanx
     
  9. fuzziebutt

    fuzziebutt Flocker

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    Just an FYI, chickens are born with all the eggs they will ever lay already in them. If they don't lay in the winter, they rest their bodies for a while, and lay for a longer life period. It just seems to make for happier, healthier gals. At my house, anyway!! :)
     
  10. haley4217

    haley4217 Junior Member

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    If you try the flock block again in the future, I got a 12"X12"X1" paver block and then put the flock block on top of it. Rain, although we don't get a lot here, runs off with minimal damage to the block. Because it is kept up off the wet ground the block doesn't absorb moisture and lasts longer.

    I made a feeder two years ago because of the same problem with the ground feeder. Used 4" PVC, 2 caps and 1 Elbow. Cut a notch in the top of the PVC for flock to get to feed then a piece of PVC extending up to hold about 8-12 cups of feed. Attach to wall or post where opening is about 4-6 inches above the ground. Keeps them from doing what they like to do, scratch feed from what they're eating out of.
     
  11. haley4217

    haley4217 Junior Member

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    Agree whole heartedly! I believe that the hens should rest for a couple of months each winter. My goal is not to produce massive quantities of eggs, but is instead the longevity of the flock. I want the girls to produce their limited number of eggs over their maximum production years. This way I get eggs that can be hatched each year from the original hens that can be added to the flock or sold as chicks at a spring farmers market.
     
  12. Chicken-gal

    Chicken-gal New Member

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    Wow! Thanks for all the replies!
    4 of the 9 we have are older and don't lay much any more... We took them from a friend who was having a fox problem. the other 5 we got last spring so they are still young.
    As to their feed, they are getting a few cups of Egg Layer Pellets 2X's a day and a lot of our table scraps.
    They are not molting, nor do I remember them molting LOL! (My little sister takes care of them.. I don't spend much time with them in the winter...)
    I am not looking for them to be mega producers... we just don't wan to buy eggs... that is why we have them! LOL!
    Thank you all for this info!!
     
  13. stu-hens

    stu-hens New Member

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    i have 6 hens, 3 over 2yrs old and 3 9mths old, they are all laying through the winter i dont believe in giving extra light,stick to layers ration and dont be tempted to give to many scraps/treats as with the shorter days its best they eat as much layers mash/pellets as possible and keep them out of the mud if possible and they will keep laying,as they get older they can take longer to come out of molt and lay less during winter but should keep going:)
     
  14. TheLazyL

    TheLazyL Member

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    The 8 Ladies (Buff Orpingtons) were hatched in May so this is their first winter.

    Coop light comes on 1/2 hour before dawn, off at dawn. 1/2 hour before dusk, off at dusk. Total light about 9 hours a day.

    Fill the feeder and waterer Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings.

    Averaging 5 to 6 eggs a day.
     
  15. BuckeyeChickens

    BuckeyeChickens New Member

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    Try "floating fish pellets" instead of dry cat food to boost your protein level....dry cat food has things in it that is NOT suitable for human consumption and since I wont eat cats i wont eat eggs from chickens that are fed cat food!!! The "fish food" is available where you buy your chicken feed and it is SAFE to feed to your chickens....it is mainly fish meal and I add about a coffee can to 50# of layer for my hens to boost protein.