An Eggcellent Solution For Increasing Winter Production

Don’t Get Caught In The Dark. When the clocks fall back and the short dark days of winter are upon us, how do we prevent a drop in egg production? When the day length shortens this results in a lag of production of follicle stimulating hormone in our young females which ultimately leads to fewer eggs produced.

Egging Them On. As poultry owners we can overcome a lag in production through supplemental (artificial) lighting. It is essential for poultry owners to turn the lights on once natural day length falls below 15 hours per day. While a light-day of 11 to 12 hours will initiate egg production it is not sustainable for high production levels through the winter.  When it is time to flip the switch and provide supplemental light it is essential that it be done in an orderly manner and not all at once.  According to Robert Hawes, Professor Emeritus of Animal and Veterinary Science at University of Maine, birds can be given an increase of 15 minutes of light each week (some authorities recommend 30 minutes per week) until they reach 14 to 16 hours a day. It is important not to exceed 17 to 18 hours of light daily as this can result in depressed production as well.

Let The Light Shine. Providing supplemental lighting is an easy task as the problem of diminishing sunlight can be fixed with a simple light. Take the same silver reflector lamp you used for brooding chicks and add a nine-watt compact fluorescent bulb and set it on a time to provide your winter light. Just make sure you set the timer to come on early enough in the morning to give the birds 15 hours of daylight, and egg production will be improved through the shorter days of winter.  With a little extra light and a little extra attention, your chickens will keep up their winter egg production and before you know it, it will be spring! 

For more tips for winterizing your flock check out:

Nutrena’s Tips for Winterizing Your Flock

Other Resources Used:

https://lee.ces.ncsu.edu/2016/08/raising-backyard-poultry/

https://extension.umaine.edu/publications/2227e/#laying-hens