Egg production in chickens is a tricky thing. Lighting plays a big part in how many eggs you get.
One week you are up to your ears in eggs. You are making meals out of them, giving cartons of eggs away to family.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you chose to purchase a recommended product I will receive a small percentage at no extra cost to you. This helps me bring you great content every week and you can build a business and life you love.
There is nothing more frustrating than having a flock of hens and getting nothing out of them.
Lighting is one of the most important things with egg production in chickens. When it comes to keeping your chickens laying throughout the year it does not take a whole lot of effort to increase the lighting hours for your flock.
How Does Lighting Affect Egg Production In Chickens
I don’t want to get all nerdy on your but there are many studies that have proven that, in almost every case, when the light is added there is a significant increase in egg production. This is also true for my own backyard flock.
Hens are given the signal to produce eggs by their endocrine system. As the daylight hours shorten in winter, changes in these hormones shut down egg production. Adding additional light triggers the endocrine system into action, causing them to produce more eggs.
Giving hens light in the winter fools their bodies into thinking that the days aren’t getting shorter at all.
I have heard from many people who think that it is the heat that helps the chickens to continue to lay. That is a good logical theory. But that is not in my experience proven to be true. A regular light bulb works just fine.
Chickens (or any animal for that matter) produce eggs when there is a better chance their offspring will survive.
The chicken is wired to think that there is less feed available in the wintertime. Even if you provide feed daily, this will not change the natural instinct. The hen’s body automatically shuts off egg-laying for the months with 14 or fewer hours of daylight.
When and How To Add The Lighting
When putting a light into your coop keep in mind that lights can also be potential fire hazards depending on the bulb you use. This is one of the main reasons I do not recommend using a heating lamp bulb. The little corkscrew bulbs are the best choice.
Chickens spend more time in the coop in the winter because it, of course, is warmer but that also causes them to get nosy and check things out so if your light is to low or within reach, they will peck at it and possibly knock it down.
This may cause a fire when you are not home. That could end in the loss of your coop and even your chickens.
Items You Need
Energy-saving light bulb (mainly because I want to keep the electric bill at a minimum. A regular poultry heat light bulb will add about $10 to $15 to your electric bill)
You can either leave the light on 24/7 to provide constant warmth (for added heat you would need to get a heat lamp bulb, just be careful of where you hang it) and light. If you hang it too low the chickens can hit it on accident and knock it to the ground and possibly start a fire. I don’t want to scare you but just be aware.
Or you can install a timer that you plug into the outlet (or extension cord) then plug your lamp into the timer. If you choose to use a timed light, you want to ensure that your chicken gets 14 hours of total light per day. I usually set the timer to come on in the early morning.
Just google the sunrise and sunset times for your location to find out what time you need to set your timer to turn on.
Other Issues That Slow Egg Production In Chickens
There are several things that can cause hens to stop laying or for you to not be getting the eggs even if your girls are producing.
- A change in feed or one that just does not agree with them and they won’t produce as much.
- They are laying eggs in a new location you have not found or you have a creeper in your coop taking the eggs for a midnight snack.
- Some sort of illness.
- Molting. You can add a high protein cat food to the feed you give the chickens to speed up the feather growth.
- Or you have an egg thief. Wild animals like skunks and possums will steal eggs. If you have a dog they might be taking them too.
Consider Her Laying Years
With that said, a chicken is born with all the eggs she will ever produce in her lifetime. So the faster she lays them the shorter her laying days will be.
It has been my experience that if your hens lay continuously from the time she starts to lay to the time she begins to slow down will be around her 2.5 to 3-year mark.
A hen that is not laying eggs eats just as much as one that is laying. If a hen dies of natural causes it can live up to 8+ years. Feeding her for 5+ years after she is not producing any more is a really long time to keep feeding something for nothing.
Read the post on how to tell if your hen is laying.
Don’t want to forget this information? Save it to your favorite Pinterest board with the image below so you can find it later.
If you are like me, this is about the time that the hens become a part of the freezer (if you know what I mean). It does not make financial sense to feed a chicken that is not producing.
If you are not a fan of “doing the deed” yourself you can find a butcher that will often do it for you for $3-5 it makes life a whole lot easier and there is no cleanup. They just come to you ready to go in the freezer. Depending on the butcher you might have to wrap them in paper or plastic.
If you prefer to keep your chickens as pets adding them to the freezer may not be a way you want to go. So let the hen lay with the seasons which will increase her laying years by almost double. But keep in mind that you could be buying eggs from the store for six months out of the year.
There is not a right way and a wrong way, just weigh your options and decide what works for your flock.