Most people love the idea of keeping chickens for their bountiful eggs. You can keep these eggs for yourself or sell them at the local markets. But if you’ve never kept chickens before, it might disappoint you to see your hens laying halt in the winter. There are many reasons why your girls have stopped laying. And some of them are avoidable. How do I keep my chickens laying year-round? Let’s take a look, and talk about possible adverse side effects of doing so.
Daylight In Winter
How do I keep my chickens laying year-round? The main reason most chickens stop laying eggs in winter is due to their light source limitations. The sun rules your chicken’s life rhythms, and with fewer daylight hours, your hen’s can’t produce. Most hens need about 15 hours of light for their reproductive systems to stay on track. In most parts of North America, only get 10 hours of sunlight per day in winter.
So how do we combat these shorter days? The best option is to install a light inside of your coop. It doesn’t have to be a bright bulb. Anywhere between 25-40 watts is perfect for giving your hens a little artificial light to kickstart their days. But this is just a tiny portion of year-round eggs.
What To Feed Your Chickens To Keep Them Laying?
One of the best tricks is to feed your chickens so they lay eggs year round is a high balanced. Making eggs is hard work and requires a lot of nutrients like calcium and protein. A hen that isn’t getting everything she needs won’t have the resources to produce eggs. So what is the best feed for chickens to lay eggs?
You should always aim for a layer feed that has 16% protein. Manna Pro is always a favorite layer feed among chicken owners. Along with regular foraging, your chickens will have plenty of vitamins and nutrients to sustain them and several eggs a week.
In the winter months, you will have to make a few adjustments. Winters are tricky because there isn’t any vegetation or insects for your flock to munch on. To make up for this lack of food, you will want to use a layer feed with 18% protein. For this high of protein, we recommend Scratch & Peck.
Do Chickens Need Supplements
What is the best thing to feed chickens for eggs? You might be wondering if you should provide additional supplements for eggs outside of the usual layer feed. And for the most part, you don’t need to buy extra vitamins to give your girls. You might be surprised to know that chickens read their bodies well. They know when they are low in iron or protein, and they have the instinct to go out and find items to alieve it.
Your hens will love to forage for bugs in warm weather and take a few nibbles out of the garden plants. If you have a chicken run, you could always plant a chicken garden. These added nutrients will give your hens the variety they need to control their diets.
And don’t want to forget about oyster shells or grit that needs to be available at all times. Oyster shells are a vital source of calcium for your birds. If you leave it in a dish, they will gladly come up and eat as much as they need. Grit isn’t necessarily a supplement, but your chickens must use it as a digestion aid. Without grit, your hens won’t absorb everything they need from their feed.
Winter months are another topic altogether. Winters in some regions are harsh, with little to eat and forage. To make up for this, you will want to give your hens lots of supplemental feedings. One great way to make up for the lack of protein is to breed mealworms. These little worms are a favorite among every flock. And the fact that they are so good for them makes it worthwhile.
What About Chicken Scratch?
What do I feed them? How do I keep my chickens laying year-round? A homemade chicken scratch is a perfect way to end their day. With this scratch, you can create a treat that rounds out the rest of their diet. In summer, it’s a much-welcomed treat. And in the winter months, it also doubles at keeping them warm.
But the ingredients are also high in more vitamins and nutrients that your hens will need to keep the eggs coming. By manipulating a few key egg-encouraging elements, you could have eggs year-round. Let’s take a look at the most common.
Premium Cleaned Oats
Oats are light on the stomach but packed with nutrients. These whole grains will keep your hens full in the winter and therefore contribute to keeping warm. It isn’t hard to digest at all and makes a great snack in boring times. Feeding a few premium oats to your hens at night will keep them warm enough that they won’t stop laying eggs.
Whole Animal Corn
Many times you will see cracked corn in chicken feed. These are just fillers and don’t add much nutritional value. Whole corn, on the other hand, is high in vitamins and healthy oils. And feeding these to your hens will keep their bellies full during times when food is hard to forage for. We recommend whole corn only for winter to keep your hen’s bellies full. It is a little too heavy on the stomach in the summer, and your hens might overheat by eating it.
How can I improve my chickens laying eggs? One of the best tricks is to keep your chickens healthy. One of the biggest culprits of health problems in chickens is parasites. And if your hen isn’t feeling well, one of the first things to drop off is its egg production. So how do we combat this?
The best option is to feed a little edible Diatomaceous Earth over their food. This supplement is harmless to your hens, and the rewards are outstanding. D.E. will kill any worms that your chickens might already have and prevent any future problems. And contrary to what you might think, worms and parasites are an issue year-round. So sprinkle a generous helping into their feed or scratch.
Black Oil Sunflower Seed
Feed your chickens so they lay eggs year round with black oil sunflower seeds. These tiny seeds are almost magical with all that they do for your hens. Black oil sunflower seeds are high in healthy oils and protein. The oils that contribute to rich eggs.
But there’s more to it than that. These oils also keep the flock’s feathers healthy and strong. This is important to speed up or prevent excessive molting. Hens that go through long periods of molting stop laying eggs, and we don’t want that.
How Many Times A Day Should I Feed My Chickens?
Laying hens require lots of energy, and how many times you feed them depends on many factors. Most hens need feed available at all times. You might even consider adding food and water into the coop at night during the winter months, especially if you have a light. Doing this will keep your hens happy until they are let outside in the morning. Otherwise, your hens will get bored and get loud until you let them out.
Free-feeding hens also have the benefit of reducing your daily tasks. With automatic and self-locking feeders, you won’t have to worry about going out every day at the same time to feed. Your hens can eat when they feel hungry and control much of what their diet is. It can also be a great way of keeping your hens full and warm in winter.
However, there are some cases where hens will overeat layer feed. It is always possible for chickens to become obese if not watched. Your goal should be to have your hens forage for most of their food in the summer. Doing this not only cuts back on costs but also keeps your hens fit.
In these cases, it might be best to have your chickens fed twice a day. By reading the instructions on your chicken’s layer feed, you can make sure that they are getting everything they need.
Can Chickens Lay 2 Eggs A Day?
If you are wondering how to encourage chickens to lay eggs, it always comes with conditions. Laying eggs is hard work. And while you can promote laying with proper diets, most chickens will never lay two eggs in one day, although it is not impossible.
Most people will never have a hen that lays two eggs a day. But you can encourage certain breeds to lay an egg a day religiously. And that is more than we can ever ask for from our feathered friends.
How do I keep my chickens laying year-round? The best tip we can give you outside of everything else is to choose the right breed. If your hens are breeds that don’t lay all year, health problems could come from trying. Shortened lifespans, bone density issues, and deformities are just a few risks you take. There are just some breeds that need that little break for their health. So take great caution in trying all of these tricks.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!