If you raise your chickens for eggs and depend on their production, seeing a drastic decrease in your egg basket is surely going to make you upset and worried!
So if you are wondering how you can fix the issue, read below and learn the benefits of having a light in your chicken coop.
I have around 40 hens right now and I absolutely love them. They are the most wonderful addition to my little farm!
And besides being great farm pets, I really depend on them for producing eggs. So when my hens went from laying about 35 eggs a day, to 20, to 5 or 6, I had a problem!
If this is something you have gone through, perhaps even on a smaller scale. Say from 5 eggs a day to now 1, then you know how I feel.
I have quite a few family members and friends who get eggs from me so it’s always pretty upsetting when egg production decreases. But there is usually always a reason why, which means there are ways that I can help.
Regularly producing hens do not simply quit laying eggs for no reason. There are many reasons why hens quit laying.
So I am going to focus on the two most common reasons for a decrease in egg production around Fall and Winter.
Why You Need a Chicken Coop Light
The first reason for a decrease in egg production is because your chickens need more light. As the days start to get shorter as fall arrives and goes into winter, hens will slow down laying or quit all together.
For hens to lay they need at least 14 hours of light. Where I live it’ll get dark at 5 pm and the sun will come up around 6:30 am. So less than 11 hours per day of natural daylight, which is definitely not enough for my laying hens.
Many tend to think that the cold weather causes hens to stop laying, but it is really due to the decrease in light.
For myself, that is great news because I can fix the problem. I cannot change the weather but I can sure control the amount of light my hens receive by adding artificial lighting to my chicken coop!
So during the time of year when days are shorter you can choose to give your hens a break from laying, which is completely okay! Or you can give them light and let them lay!
Second Reason for a Decrease in Egg Production: Molting
The second reason why hens quit laying is because of molt. Molt is a naturally occurring process in chickens that begins when they are about 18 months old.
During molt chickens will loose their old feathers and grow in new ones.
Chickens usually start molting in Fall as the days shorten, and it lasts anywhere from 8-16 weeks to complete.
During that time hens quit laying eggs because their energy and nutrients is all put toward growing new feathers. Feathers are 85% protein; therefore, it’s too hard on hens to grow in new feathers while regularly producing eggs.
Important Practices During Molt
During molt there are a couple important practices chicken keepers can do. First, your chickens should have a clean chicken coop. Second, your chickens should be fed a high protein feed.
A clean chicken coop is crucial because during molt chickens will have bare skin leaving them more susceptible to health problems.
In order to prevent the chance of bacteria and infection in your chickens, a clean coop is necessary.
Feeding a high protein feed is also very important. It will ensure that your chickens are getting the nutrients needed to help them through molt as quickly as possible.
I specifically feed Nutrena NatureWise Feather Fixer while my chickens are in molt and I have had great results. It has elevated levels of protein as well as a mix of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that help maintain healthy skin and develop strong and beautiful new feathers.
The great thing about Nutrena NatureWise Feather Fixer is that it is sold on Amazon, so if you can’t find it at your local feed store, it can be shipped right to your house!
For more information on molting chickens check out your guide to molting chickens.
How I Add Supplemental Lighting to My Chicken Coop
As the winter months arrive and the days shorten, providing supplemental lighting for your hens is extremely important. If not, you’ll likely see a drastic decrease in egg production.
The extra lighting in your chicken coop is the secret to a continuous supply of eggs throughout the short days of winter.
Best of all, adding the chicken coop light is super easy and the LED light bulb is cost-effective.
This gives my hens around 15 hours of light per day, with the combination of natural light and artificial lighting. Which is just what they need to keep on laying.
Note: It’s not heat lamps that hens need, it is simply a regular light bulb.
I prefer to have the light kick on in the early morning to start the day earlier versus making the day longer by extending light after dark.
The reason is that chickens will naturally start to roost as the sun is setting. Once the chickens start roosting they are ready to sleep. So if the light were to come on shortly after it would throw them off.
Another reason why it is not wise to light your coop after sunset is that when the light suddenly goes off after a few hours, chickens may not be able to find their way back up on the roosts.
During actual sunset, it gradually gets dark which gives the hens time to acclimate.
Results of Adding a Light to My Chicken Coop
After adding a chicken coop light, my hens went from barely laying a few eggs a day to over a dozen in only two days!
And their egg production only improves as more time goes by while receiving the correct amount of light!
Providing supplemental lighting is definitely a personal choice, but it’s a great option if you want to continue getting eggs.
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For more information on raising chickens check out my book The Beginners Guide to Raising Chickens.
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