Green Eggs & Ham
Now that it’s getting dark so early and the number of daylight hours is almost at its annual low, the ladies’ egg production has dropped off significantly. A chicken’s egg laying cycle is related to the number of hours of daylight per day, and during the shorter days of fall and winter most hens will stop laying eggs until the days start getting longer in about February. There are a few exceptions to this rule – a few breeds of chicken are known for being better winter layers than other breeds, and hens in their first year of laying will often lay through the winter. We have a couple of breeds that are supposed to be winter layers, but they seem to be on vacation at the moment. Actually, to be fair most of them are just now finishing up molting and have grown a new set of shiny luxurious feathers to cover up their recently feather-bare bottoms as I wrote about in the Guess What…? post. Now that our winter layers have finished molting, I’m hoping that a few of them will start laying a few eggs a week. Although it is possible to increase egg laying at this time of year by providing supplemental lighting in the coop, I prefer to let the ladies take a well-deserved break from egg laying, as their bodies naturally want to do.
Due to the molting and the short days, for the last two weeks we’ve only gotten a dozen eggs a week, which is dramatically less than the 5 or 6 dozen a week we get in the summer. The silver lining in this story is that our two youngest layers, Grace and Ruby, are both green-egg layers. Since they are 8 and 6 months old, respectively, they will likely keep laying right on through the winter. Even though there are usually only a couple of eggs when I collect eggs from the nest boxes these days, it’s still a thrill to open up the lid and see a pair of beautiful green eggs!