This is the keep back hatching clutch of mixed eggs from this spring and a fine group they are, could not be more pleased with them. The purebreds are in their own group at this time and one of the hens is currently sitting on 14 confirmed eggs on day 8. We will see if she hatches anything if so they will be moved to their own area for her to raise them.
I will not be putting any extra light on the pure girl flock, they will lay or not lay is more likely and have a nice winters rest.
On the other hand my new flock of up an comers will have full light hours and I want them laying though the whole winter until spring for me 🙂
Here is a short version of a longer post I have done on keep your hens laying in winter..
Light: Yup, just like everyone else, I am going to say if you want your girls to lay thought the winter, you need to add light, but do not be afraid to think outside the box.. some folks are very successful at moving their hens to their unheated greenhouses during the winter, this helps you get every light bit you can, and keeps the heating (if you choose to heat) to a min and has the added bonus of them both cleaning and adding to the soil. but I recommend that if you can, take your chicken light needs to solar, We have a solar powered light that collects during the day (when the birds have light) turns on in the evening as it gets dark and runs for about 4 to 5 hours on a winter charge, this is the best of three worlds, I use what natural light there is at all times, The light turns on by itself as it gets dark and the extra hours means that my birds get at least 12 hours of light even in the dark of winter and third, I am still on the same solar powered lights for the chickens and the big barn coming on 7 years, given that I got them on sale for 29.. that’s at power cost of 4 dollars per year to power a building.. if I was doing that at my local power costs.. it would be a lot more.
Protein: that simple word that is just not so simple in real life.. you can go buy layer feed, it will have lots of protein in it.. mostly from GMO soybeans but its there.. or if you have a few chickens, you can pay though the nose for organic.. good for you if you can do so.. but most of us are on a budget.. So we are using a basic grain feed that is going to be a mix between 9 to 13 percent protein, it will get your birds though the winter but it will not be great that’s for sure.. and those lower protein will effect your layers. So you can do a number of tricks, you can grow fodder, if you have a small flock, its quick and easy enough to do and it will increase the basic amounts to the need levels, you can hard boil and chop back a egg into the feed to increase the protein count, if you are doing small critter butchering on the farm in the winter ,like rabbits, you can give the leftover bits to the chickens and they will pick them clean, you can grow meal worms or red wiggers and once a week toss a handful to them, crickets are another choice I know that someone grows for her birds, I personally do fodder, meat scrapes and meal worms. In a total pinch, I know folks that just toss them a handful of the dried cat food to give them that boost.
Age: this is a great trick and when done correctly it works like a charm, keep the ages of your flock moving, if you have spring hatched hens that are young pullets that are coming into laying in the fall, early winter, they will start and as long as you meet their feed and protein needs they will continue to lay all winter, but be aware that they will take a spring break and first adult molt. but if you have older hens, they will have done a fall moult, a winter slow down and they will cover for your young girls in the spring..
One more reason to love ducks : LOL, no really, ducks are so good in so many ways, when the hens hit that hard winter slow down.. no I will not lay for you if they are older, the duck hens are out in crazy cold but sunny temps and she will start laying weeks before the chicken will stop looking out at the snow and giving you the eye, that says, make it stop and put another layer of fresh hay out there if you think, I am going to even think about going out of my hen house.
Farm Gal Tip of the Day – Give your girls hay once or twice a week, just a touch will do, they will use it like bedding but not before they find every bit of seed head, and good stuff in it. It will give you a bit of color in your winter eggs a well.. Do you not just love how eggs change all year long in color and texture a bit.. from pullet to spring, to summer to winter eggs, good cooks know that they are not the same